Cannabis has been cultivated as an agricultural crop for over 10,000 years and used as medicine for over 4000 years. A PubMed search for cannabis finds over 15,000 research papers!
Cannabis is a family of plants with two primary classifications — Indica and Sativa. While marijuana can be considered a member of either the Indica or Sativa families, Hemp is a member of the Cannabis Sativa family. Because Hemp and Marijuana both derive from the Cannabis Sativa family, they do share certain similarities; however, due to each plant’s biological structure, they have several very distinct and crucial differences. When compared side by side the two plants can each clearly be identified. The second significant difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC content.
Cannabis contains dozens of compounds called cannabinoids, two of the most dominant are Tetrahydrocannabinol type compounds (THC delta 9, THCVA, THCA etc) and Cannabidiol type compounds (CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC, CBDA etc), as well as other active compounds like terpenes (beta caryophyllene, limonene and pinene to name a few) and flavonoids that are plant based antioxidants.
Cannabinoids have been shown to provide profound benefits to the human body; however, THC induces psychoactive effects (gets the user “high”), while CBD does not contain any psychoactive properties. When comparing Hemp vs Marijuana, this is a huge distinction; while Hemp contains a very low concentration of THC (0.3% or less), Marijuana is abundant in THC with concentrations between 15% to 40%. Because Marijuana is abundant in THC, it is naturally grown for its psychoactive properties, whether it be for recreational or medicinal use. Marijuana can be smoked, inhaled, ingested or injected directly into the body. THC is also commonly extracted from the plant and used in a variety of methods including vaporizers, capsules, edibles and more. The presence of THC in Marijuana vs Hemp not only plays a huge role in how each plant is used, but it is also the defining factor in the legality of each plant. Each state/country will have varying laws based on the usage, sales, transportation, and cultivation of Hemp, which will widely depend on the THC-content of the Hemp plant. In most of the United States, the allowed THC-content for hemp to be classified as legal is 0.3%, while in much of the rest of the world, it is 0.2%.
Hemp traditionally has been primarily used for industrial purposes as it is capable of producing hundreds of crucial resources such as paper, clothing, building materials, biofuel, food products, oils and more. With the fast-growing popularity of CBD across the globe, hemp is also used to produce a wide variety of THC-free CBD products.