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Cannabis and CBD

The differences between marijuana and hemp and how CBD is present in both.

To say that there is some confusion surrounding hemp, marijuana, and CBD is a complete understatement! This confusion is made even worse because of legislation in the U.S. regarding hemp, marijuana, and CBD.

So let’s try to simplify it. Hemp and marijuana both belong to the class (genus) of plants known as Cannabis. They are actually the same species, Cannabis Sativa. They are the same plant, except that they have been bred differently, so they have different qualities.

Confusing? Let’s look at another example. Take another plant species, Brassica oleracea. This is the scientific name for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and collards. Those vegetables are totally different, but they’re the same plant. This is the relationship between hemp and marijuana. In the same way that you’re not going to call a broccoli cauliflower, you can’t (or shouldn’t) refer to hemp as marijuana and vice versa.

Now, keep in mind that sometimes people interchange cannabis and marijuana, and at other times use cannabis as an umbrella term when discussing both hemp and marijuana. For the purposes of this post, cannabis will refer to both hemp and marijuana.

So what is the difference between hemp and marijuana? Marijuana is bred to have high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the cannabinoid (a chemical found in cannabis) that is most associated with the psychoactive effects of smoking or ingesting marijuana- the “high” feeling. Hemp has very small, basically negligible amount of THC. You couldn’t get high from it no matter how much of it you smoked.

Industrial hemp is a term used to describe hemp that has less than 0.3% THC. In the U.S., industrial hemp is legal to import, purchase, and consume in various forms. Some states now have hemp pilot programs as part of the Farm Bill of 2014. You can visit the Hemp Industries Association for more information.

While marijuana is typically used for its medicinal/recreational purposes, hemp has many more uses. It can be used for food, construction material, paper production, clothing fiber, and fuel. It can also be used medicinally. 

This is where CBD, cannabidiol, comes into play. CBD is a cannabinoid, just like THC, and it can be found in both marijuana and hemp. CBD can be extracted from both plants, and the differences in the quality of CBD will come from the method of extraction, and the production standards of the company performing the extraction. And of course, there is the issue of legality depending on the plant from which it is derived.

Our next post will talk about extraction methods of CBD and its different forms.

Further Reading:

The Differences Between Hemp and Cannabis

What are Cannabinoids?

Hemp vs. Marijuana

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