I previously wrote an article titled Marijuana: A scheduling Nightmare, where I wrote about the confusion and absurdities surrounding the listing of cannabis as a schedule I drug, which is what the Federal government classifies cannabis as. In December of 2018, Congress signed the Hemp Farming Act bill into law, further complicating the entire scheduling aspect, Why?, because Cannabis remains illegal despite Hemp being legal. I know it sounds confusing and a bit strange because it is. The farm bill made industrial hemp legal in all 50 states, not Cannabis. This is important in many ways but one reason, in particular, is because it differentiated hemp from marijuana for the first time since they began regulations on Cannabis. Initially, Congress screwed up in 1937 when passing the Marihuana Tax Act when they made Cannabis (Any form) illegal because they didn’t differentiate between hemp and marijuana. The Nixon administration never corrected this issue when they scheduled Cannabis as a schedule I drug in 1970 with the passage of the Controlled Substance Act and again didn’t differentiate between hemp and marijuana.
All of this is a big deal because most people aren’t Cannabis, Hemp, and Marijuana should not be used interchangeably as the government likes to. There’s a big difference between hemp and marijuana, and now with popular products such as CBD (cannabidiol) which comes from Hemp and Marijuana but primarily in Hemp, it’s even more important to understand the differences. I’ll try to break down these differences below into three main categories: The genetic relationship, Cultivation and Growth, and Cannabinoid content.
Cannabis – Hemp – Marijuana – The Genetic Relationship
I’ll attempt to break this down as easily as I can be based on my knowledge of the subject. While I know a fair amount about the topic, I wouldn’t call myself an expert on Cannabis, not yet anyway, so keep that in mind as you’re reading this.
Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana are not the same thing and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. This is one of the main reasons the federal classification is so wrong because it groups them all under the same umbrella. Most people don’t realize the differences between the names, and some might say it’s a matter of semantics, but it’s not. There really is a significant difference in the names, and the plants themselves.
Cannabis is a family of plants with three primary species — Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis. Marijuana is a type of Cannabis plant and can be indica or sativa, or a hybrid of both. Hemp is another type of cannabis plant but is a member of the Cannabis sativa family. There’s no such thing as an indica version of hemp. Ruderlis is another species of Cannabis and is native to Central and Eastern Europe as well as Russia. Some say is a subspecies of Sativa, but it’s debatable. Even Indica was formerly called Cannabis Sativa forma indica but is now just referred to as Indica or Cannabis Indica. It’s definitely some complicated terminology but basically, just remember Cannabis is the plant, and there are different types of the plant. So just saying Cannabis is not exactly accurate, and this is precisely the reason the federal government really botched it when they made Cannabis illegal. When they did so, it made all forms of Cannabis illegal, hemp and marijuana. This has recently changed as mentioned above. While they are starting to roll back federal regulations specifically on hemp, the Feds have not rolled back regulations on marijuana despite several states doing so.
Because Hemp and Marijuana both derive from the Cannabis family, they do share certain similarities; however, due to each plant’s biological structure, they have several very distinct and crucial differences.
Hemp vs. Marijuana: Differences and Cultivation
The biggest and most significant difference between hemp and marijuana is this. Marijuana gets you high and hemp doesn’t. Marijuana contains high amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) whereas hemp contains trace amounts of THC, but higher amounts of other cannabinoids. There is a significant difference in the way hemp and marijuana are cultivated and grown. Yes, both fall under the species of Cannabis, but the way they are grown and the end result come harvest time is drastically different.
Hemp is often grown in rows that are one to two inches apart. Plants are grown very close together and sprout upwards into the sky until they are taller than full g