Hemp VS Marijuana
“Isn’t hemp illegal?”, and “will I get high?” are common examples of the many misconceptions about hemp and its relationship to marijuana.
Both hemp and marijuana are strains of the Cannabis plant, and although hemp is quite different to marijuana in its function, cultivation, and application it remains linked in name and thus in association.
THC is the psychoactive compound which when consumed or smoked can make the user high. Marijuana exhibits high quantities of THC. In hemp THC is almost non-existent, and in New Zealand every crop is closely monitored to ensure no hemp food ever has THC levels above the 0.3% threshold. Because of this, there is no way that the consumption of hemp will ever lead to any psychotropic effect for the user. As such Marijuana is still largely illegal throughout the world, whereas hemp enjoys legality in most countries.
Hemp is the cannabis plant that is grown in its natural form for use as food and fibre. Hemp is a noble and ancient crop which has been grown for millennia, whereas marijuana is estimated to be only 100 years old (for reasons that we will share with you soon).
Plants are no different to us. We both have an inbuilt genetic drive to not only survive, but also to reproduce. At the heart of the marijuana vs hemp debate, is the manipulation of the natural reproductive cycles of the cannabis plant to produce two uniquely different varietals of cannabis.
Hemp is grown in a process which sees both the male and female plants cultivated in the same space, at the same time. The male hemp plant has a beautiful yellow flower that releases pollen when matured. Just when the time is right, and the female plant is ready to flower, the male plant expels its pollen and pollinates the female plant; the male will die soon after. Once pollinated by the male, the female plant will use energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from the air and nutrients and water from the earth to create the nutritious hemp seeds that we eat today.
Marijuana is not a naturally occurring plant; it has been derived through the colonization of cannabis. Marijuana is a hybrid of hemp and is not the relative or cousin of hemp that many assume. Marijuana is produced when female plants are removed from the vicinity of males, where they are stressed to produce high levels of THC. The females only objective is to be able to produce the seed, a process which (as previously mentioned) requires the male pollen. In the absence of males or pollen, the female plant will naturally increase its levels of the sticky THC, to increase its likelihood of catching male pollen.
100 years of female-only populations being bred has increased the THC component of the marijuana hybrid to approximately 30%; massive in comparison to traditional hemp which, by law, cannot have a THC level of more than 0.3%.
Another important topic on the issue of hemp vs. marijuana is around the chemical compound CBD. CBD, as consumed by humans through hemp food is legal. CBD stands for Cannabidiol, and like THC is one of the 100 or so unique compounds called Cannabinoids that are found in both hemp and marijuana. CBD is found in both hemp and marijuana, but, unlike THC, is non-psychoactive.
CBD is a compound that has been shown to be hugely beneficial to our health when consumed. CBD is known to relieve pain, reduce anxiety and depression, aide healthy sleep, reduce acne and has even shown to help sufferers of neurological disorders like dementia and autism. The topic of the differing types of cannabinoids, their applications and their levels in hemp and marijuana is a vast topic unto itself.
In summary we can say that hemp is the more naturally occurring form of the cannabis plant. Hemp is highly versatile and has been said to be available for use in up to 25,000 differing applications! From food to housing, the natural hemp plant can help it all.
Marijuana is derived from the hemp plant through intentional genetic manipulation for its high levels of THC. This has happened over the last century only and its use is limited to medicinal and recreational purposes only.
We hope this article has shed some light on the confusion and myth around hemp and marijuana, and you are now more comfortable to discuss hemp with confidence and incorporate some hemp into your daily life. We know your mind and body will love you for it!