AUGUST 4, 2023

Understanding Hemp vs. Cannabis: Unraveling the Misconceptions

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Hey everyone! Welcome back. Today, I’m going to shed some light on a topic that can often lead to quite a bit of confusion in the cannabis community: hemp vs. cannabis. There seems to be lots of misconceptions about these two plants, so let's break it down and get a clear understanding of what sets them apart. 

First of all, yes, the two plants do look similar. But the main difference is the legal aspect: hemp is a specific strain of the Cannabis sativa plant, one that has a THC level of less than 0.3%. Now if you remember from our previous posts, THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid, largely responsible for getting that “high” feeling. Interestingly enough, there are currently no Cannabis indica strains classified as hemp. All members of this species are classified as cannabis.

The Legal Side 

So what’s up with the 0.3%? Well, this specific number was arrived at thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the legal definition of cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act. This means it is now legal to grow hemp throughout the United States. It also made hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3% THC) federally legal as well. This, for example, is why you can now buy CBD products made from hemp plants without having to sign up for a medical cannabis program. 

CBD Concentration 

Although hemp and cannabis both contain CBD, hemp usually has a much higher concentration of CBD compared to most cannabis varieties. This is exactly why hemp is such a popular choice for CBD extraction and is used to produce so many different wellness products. Furthermore, since hemp is legal, most of the CBD supplements on the market are manufactured from this plant rather than cannabis. Hemp makes it easier for manufacturers to produce CBD products without jumping through regulatory hoops at every corner.

How Are The Plants Used?

Besides the CBD extraction, hemp’s fibers can be used to make clothing, paper, and building materials, while its seeds are an amazing source of nutrition and can be used to produce oils and protein powder.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is most often used for medicinal medicinal or recreational purposes. It contains a variety of cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and others, that interact with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies and produce different effects and benefits. Cannabis is consumed in a range of forms, from smoking, to vaping, as well as edibles, oils, tinctures, capsules, and topicals. 

What Do They Look Like? 

There is also quite a big difference in how hemp and cannabis are grown and cultivated. Hemp plants are slim and very tall, reaching a height of about 18 to 22 ft. with a growth cycle of 108 – 120 days. Hemp leaves are also very skinny and are commonly found nearer the top of the stalk. Hemp plants are generally grown close together in large fields to encourage tall stalks and minimal branching, which maximizes their fiber and seed production. Industrial hemp plants are also generally hardier than cannabis plants, and are harvested similar to grasses that are grown for fiber. 

Cannabis plants, on the other hand, have been bred to spread wider and produce more flowers that contain THC. The plants are therefore grown further apart to allow better circulation, and have a growth cycle of 60 – 90 days. The height is very dependent on the strain. Indicas are short and unlikely to grow any taller than 6 ft, while Sativas can grow up to 20 ft. 

Drug Testing

So what happens if you choose to ingest some hemp-derived CBD? Will it show up on a drug test? Turns out the answer is slightly nuanced. Firstly, drug tests are used to detect THC, not CBD. You can actually test positive for THC up to three days after a single use, and more than 30 days after heavy use. So, although, theoretically, CBD shouldn’t show up on the test, it can lead to a positive result if there is any THC present. This can happen when trace amounts build up in your system over time, or if the label of the product is not 100% correct. This is more likely to happen if the CBD you’re ingesting is cannabis-derived CBD rather than hemp-derived CBD. Remember, hemp-derived CBD is required, by law, to contain less than 0.3% THC. 

The Bottom Line 

Now that we have a better grasp of the differences, it's essential to address one last common misconception: hemp is not a "lesser" form of cannabis. In fact, both plants have their own unique benefits and applications. Hemp is valuable for its wide-ranging industrial uses, while cannabis is cherished for its medicinal and recreational potential.

As CanMar takes the lead in the cannabis and psychedelics industry, we strive to promote awareness and knowledge. Our team is committed to sharing accurate information to clear up any misunderstandings and foster an informed community. 

So next time you encounter discussions about hemp and cannabis, you'll be armed with the facts! Remember, knowledge is power, and together, we'll continue to uncover the wonders of the cannabis and psychedelics world. 

Stay tuned for more exciting insights and updates in the fascinating realm of CanMar. Until next time!








Monique Demes

Copywriter at CanMar

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