Hemp, Cannabis and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
Cannabis, hemp or marijuana is our oldest crop, sown for over 12,000 years (1), and may have been domesticated over 30,000 years ago. It produces more fuel, fiber, food and medicine than any other plant (2). The seeds of cannabis produce the most productive and nutritious vegetable oil and protein (3). Hemp produces more fiber, from its stems and stalks, than any other plant (4), and hemp fiber can be used to make paper, canvas, rope, lace, linen, building materials and more. Cannabis flowers and leaves also produce over 100 unique compounds known as cannabinoids that have many physical and psychological effects. (5)
There is a lot of confusion about the difference between hemp, cannabis and marijuana. Hemp, cannabis or marijuana all are scientifically denoted by the Latin term, Cannabis Sativa; hemp, cannabis or marijuana are all the same plant species, Cannabis Sativa. Varieties known as Cannabis Indica are just different varieties of the same species that were originally bred in India. Cannabis is not a genus, it is a species. Today, almost all varieties of cannabis used for medicine and social use are cross-breeds of both indica and sativa varieties. There are other varieties that have been denoted as well, such as Cannabis Ruderalis, and the modern pharmaceutical companies of Eli Lilly and Parke Davis produced many cannabis-based medicines, including some from a variety that they named Cannabis Americana.
Humans have co-evolved with cannabis for at least 12,000 years too. We have changed cannabis and cannabis has changed us. Our ancestors have bred cannabis for hundreds of generations. Today, hemp seeds’ protein profile and essential fatty acid profile perfectly match humans’ nutritional requirements. The cannabinoid profile of hemp has been bred to suit many demands, from medicine to social use. The origins of agriculture and civilization itself are linked to cannabis, and all archaeologists agree that cannabis was grown by our first ancestors to begin farming in Asia.
For instance, there are many different types of dogs that have been bred diversely from their original wolf ancestors. The original ancestor of the dog is known as Canis Lupus, and all modern dogs are known scientifically by their Latin name, Canis Lupus Familiaris. From the little Chihuahua to the huge Irish Wolfhound, these different varieties of canines are the results of human directed breeding.
The same with cannabis. In fact, the Latin word for cannabis and canine are from the same etymological root. Cannabis does have a profound physical effect on dogs, which might explain that.
Under US law, the definitions are clear. Different parts of the same cannabis plant are defined as hemp and other parts as cannabis or marijuana, and the seed may be defined as either, depending upon its viability. According to US law, hemp is the stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa, and marijuana is the leaves, flowers and viable seeds of cannabis sativa. Male or female cannabis has no differentiation by law or science, beyond gender. Of course, you can’t get any cannabis or hemp seeds except via female flowers fertilized by male pollen. Just as there are different varieties of corn, there are different varieties of cannabis. The varieties of cannabis that are over-regulated but legal in Canada & Europe are those that produce less than 0.3 percent THC. Since most THC is in the flowers, these low THC varieties are specifically bred to have very few flowering sites, thus little THC. Unfortunately, these ‘low THC but legal in Canada & Europe’ varieties, which I call dwarf hemp, produces very little seed and half the fiber compared to varieties of cannabis with more THC.
It’s time to restore hemp, the oldest & most productive crop. Cannabis & hemp were renamed marijuana in the early part of the 20th Century in a misinformation campaign designed by and to benefit the petrochemical pharmaceutical military industrial transnational crony corporate elite ruling class (6). The reason hemp, or marijuana, was prohibited in the 20th century was to suppress hemp fuel and fiber production. Cannabis prohibition has always been about money, power and the centralization of economic and political control. Hemp fuel and fiber are inexpensive to make and naturally decentralized. Small groups of people created the marijuana myth so they could profit from the expensive, capital intensive petrochemical alternatives that dominate our political process and economy today. Hemp will decentralize our economic system and return wealth and control to the majority.
Hemp, by every measure, makes more fuel, fiber, food and medicine than any other plant. An acre of hemp, on an annual basis, produces 300 gallons of seed oil (for fuel, plastics and food), 3 tons of high protein hempseed meal, 10 tons of bast fiber for canvas, rope lace and linen, 25 tons of hurd fiber for paper and building materials, and, from its leaves and biomass, ethanol for fuel too.
Hemp produces more fiber than any other plant. There are two types of fiber in a marijuana stalk or stem, the bast fiber, which is the outer bark, and the hurd fiber, or the inner woody core. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Bulletin 404, a waste product from making canvas, rope,lace and linen from hemp bast fiber, this hemp hurd fiber alone, makes over 4 times more paper than trees. Hemp paper is acid free, for a long shelf life, and produced without toxic chemicals. According to Washington State University’s Wood Sciences Lab, hemp fiber board is stronger than steel. When we start using hemp instead of wood fiber for paper and building materials, deforestation may well cease.
Hemp seed oil is biodiesel fuel. Hemp biomass makes ethanol. Hemp fuel is completely nontoxic, whereas petroleum production is extremely toxic, poisoning everything it touches. Hemp makes more biofuel than any other plant. Hemp fuels are carbon neutral and its wide-scale adoption will help restore balance in many ways. When we allow farmers to grow hemp for its best fuel attributes, regardless of THC content, we will realign our whole economic system by replacing fossil fuel with biofuel.
Plastics made with hempseed oil are much cheaper and nontoxic too. Hemp plastics are biodegradable, unlike petrochemical-produced plastics.
Hemp seeds produce more oil and protein than any other plant per land area cultivated. Hemp protein and oil are rich in the essential fatty acids (EFAs) that our brain and cardiovascular system need, Omega 3 & 6, in the perfect ratio for optimal human health. Hemp protein has all 8 amino acids, again, in just the right balance to meet humans’ nutritional needs.
Per acre, according to a study published in the Notre Dame University journal, The American Midland Naturalist, wild hemp here in the USA produces 8,000 pounds of seed per acre. This study is called: An Ecological Study of Naturalized Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in East-Central Illinois, by Alan Haney and Benjamin B. Kutscheid at the University of Indiana at Urbana, Department of Biology.
After you press the 8,000 pounds of hemp seeds, you get over 300 gallons of oil and 6,000 pounds of high protein hemp meal. That is over 7 barrels of oil (42 US gallons) produced per acre, which is extremely healthy while fresh, and 3 tons of food per acre. This oil production rate is three times more productive than the next most productive seed oil crops: soybeans, canola and sunflower seeds, which each produce 100 to 115 gallons of oil per acre. Hempseed oil will be the most productive source of biodiesel fuel when legalized, and, as noted above, it is also a nontoxic resource for plastics and other products.
It is difficult to fathom how one plant can produce more fuel, fiber, food and medicine than any other plant, and that this plant is the oldest crop sown. How we can all be relatively ignorant of these facts? And that this plant is illegal across the world. But cannabis prohibition was sold based upon lies to benefit the petrochemical robber barons and their proxy successor corporate oligarchs who rule the world today. Again, cannabis prohibition was implemented based upon lies to benefit the petrochemical, pharmaceutical, military industrial, transnational, corporate elite, crony capitalist ruling class. Ending cannabis prohibition is the solution for many economic, environmental and social issues. Drugs are a smokescreen. This is the subversion of the natural cycle to the synthetic cycle. We don’t need to fight wars for oil because our farmers can produce a superior product. Hemp is the premier source for energy, and the byproducts of cannabis fuel production can feed humanity and save the precious remnants of our biosphere and life for future generations.
I believe that, with the convergence of genetic science, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence now underway, restoring cannabis for all its uses is critically important for the future of freedom for humanity. Legal rulings, such as the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Citizens United, now hold that corporations are artificial individuals that have even more rights than natural, flesh-and-blood individuals, people. If we can continue to prohibit the oldest and most productive crop based upon lies, then I fear that it becomes more likely that humanity itself may be subverted by our newly created artificial intelligence in the not-so-distant future. Cannabis is a critical bellwether for freedom of thought and consciousness.
It is really an issue of economic and social justice. Please work for and support global cannabis freedom. Restore hemp!
1 Ernest L. Abel; Marijuana – The First Twelve Thousand Years; 1980
2 Alan Haney and Benjamin B. Kutscheid (U. of Illinois at Urbana, Dept. of Biology); The American Midland Naturalist; January 1975 (periodical, U. of Notre Dame)
3 Urdo Erasmus; Fats That Heal- Fats That Kill; 1993 (book)
4 United States Department of Agriculture, Bulletin No. 404; Lyster H. Dewey, Botanist in Charge of Fiber-Plant Investigations, and Jason L. Merrill, Paper-Plant Chemist
5 Aizpurua-Olaizola, Oier; Soydaner, Umut; Öztürk, Ekin; Schibano, Daniele; Simsir, Yilmaz; Navarro, Patricia; Etxebarria, Nestor; Usobiaga, Aresatz (2016-02-02). “Evolution of the Cannabinoid and Terpene Content during the Growth of Cannabis sativa; Plants from Different Chemotypes”; Journal of Natural Products
6 Gatewood Galbraith, The Last Free Man in America: Meets the Synthetic Subversion; 2004
Hemp, Cannabis and Marijuana: What’s the Difference? Cannabis, hemp or marijuana is our oldest crop, sown for over 12,000 years (1), and may have been domesticated over 30,000 years ago. It
The Difference Between Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana Explained
Author : Jessica Assaf
The Magazine: The Difference Between Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana Explained
In the world of cannabis, there are more names for one plant family than you could ever imagine. Cannabis, hemp, and marijuana are all terms for plants in the Cannabaceae family, but there are differences between them — some botanical, some cultural. Here’s a breakdown of the basics: the difference between hemp, cannabis, and marijuana.
What is hemp?
Hemp is a specific type of cannabis known scientifically as Cannabis sativa L. Though they are both part of the same family (and sometimes species), hemp and marijuana have different chemistry and characteristics. Hemp plants contain low levels of the intoxicating phytocannabinoid known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), for which marijuana is well known. It does, however, contain high levels of the non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid Cannabidiol (CBD).
In the U.S., the level of THC is a legal defining line between hemp and marijuana. Hemp is generally defined as Cannabis sativa L. plants which contain 0.3% THC or less. Plants exceeding the 0.3% THC limit are considered marijuana and remain illegal federally under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Hemp is one of the most versatile plants in the world. The stalk of a hemp plant, for example, could be used for the manufacture of textiles or the development of biofuels. The seeds of hemp are eaten or employed to create hemp seed oil, while the flowers can be used to extract CBD for use in a wide range of products, including skin care products like our Skin Therapy body butter and edibles like our beverage infusions.
What is cannabis?
The word Cannabis is a taxonomic term referring to a genus of flowering plants that are members of the family Cannabaceae, which includes about 170 plant species. The genus is often divided up into three species – Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.
The origins of the cannabis genus are not clearly understood, as a lack of significant fossil evidence made it difficult for botanists to place its evolutionary divergence from other organisms. Using a “molecular clock” and computer algorithms to estimate the age of the genus, researchers determined that cannabis likely diverged from a common ancestor with its most closely related genus – Humulus – about 27.8 million years ago.
Regardless of the taxonomic minutiae, the headline is that “cannabis” is actually a broader classification that contains both hemp plants and marijuana plants. At the end of the day, for all their differences, both types of plants are indeed cannabis.
Essential Blend for Body & Mind
What is marijuana?
Marijuana is the intoxicating cousin of hemp. Depending on the taxonomic methods you prefer, marijuana may well be comprised largely of Cannabis sativa plants as well. And while marijuana and hemp might share a species, they are legally and chemically distinct in a significant way.
The high levels of THC found in marijuana plants cause intoxication when consumed. Federally, marijuana remains illegal; THC is a Schedule I substance under the CSA. However, many states have now rejected the prohibition on marijuana and have active programs for cultivating and dispensing marijuana for medical and/or adult use.
Marijuana is sold in a variety of ways. One of the most common products is simply the dried and cured flower of the marijuana plant. However, like hemp, marijuana is often subject to extraction to create concentrated extracts that can be sold on their own or used as an ingredient in edibles, topicals, and other products.
The difference between hemp and marijuana
Today, “cannabis” and “marijuana” are often used interchangeably in the industry, which can cause confusion. Because the word “cannabis” technically refers to the entire genus of flowering plants that includes both hemp and marijuana, it is not wholly accurate to exclude hemp when using the term. Historically, the word “marijuana” has been used to distinguish between cannabis that is hemp and cannabis that isn’t based on the percentage of THC each plant contains.
While that distinction may, in some ways, seem arbitrary, it has become a clear enough standard that new varieties of cannabis plants are bred with this threshold in mind. While it might seem strange that cannabis plants, which contain many cannabinoids alongside many more chemical compounds, would be divided by THC content, that has become the standard for the legal cannabis and hemp CBD industries. Thus, the terms hemp and marijuana serve to distinguish between varieties of plants belonging to the same species that find themselves on very different sides of the law.
Do you know the difference between hemp, cannabis, and marijuana? Unless you understand the differences between them, it's pretty confusing. Let us explain.