What Are The Major Differences Between Cannabis & Hemp


One major problem that police usually face is to attempt to differentiate between cannabis and hemp. The field tests issued by law enforcement for the detection of drugs are not always able in telling the difference. It has resulted in the arrest of numerous people who are doing the transportation of hemp. Hemp, which is a legal commodity these days.

There is a long way behind testing technology where it should be. The rise in the CBD market has resulted in the addition of headaches for the police and those who are selling hemp products.

In this article, we will make you understand the differences between cannabis and hemp. It will assist you in gathering more knowledge about these two remarkable plants.

Cannabis and Hemp are not Different Species!

Probably there is a huge misconception that cannabis and hemp are different species of plant. Both of these species come from the marijuana plant which is a part of the Cannabaceae family. The term Hemp gives the description of cannabis that comes with a maximum of 0.3% THC by dry weight.

Ernest Small in his book entitled “The Species Problem in Cannabis” of the year 1979 has come up with the definition. He has admitted that this figure must not necessarily be set in stone. However, the 2018 Farm Bill has got stuck with that percentage. Hemp is solely part of the Sativa Cannabis species. And the low THC content of it means that it is non-intoxicating.

This plant is having at least 25,000 different uses. These are inclusive of food, clothing, and paper. It is also having a high percentage of CBD which is a cannabinoid. It could assist people in the management of the symptoms of numerous medical conditions.

Marijuana used to come from Cannabis Ruderalis, Cannabis Indica, or Cannabis Sativa. Cannabis plants that contain more than 0.3% THC are classified as marijuana legally. In the modern days, it is common for those strains of the plant that contain more than 20% THC. Such kind of marijuana is highly intoxicating. Humans have been making use of it for recreational purposes and as a medicine for thousands of years. It is also having a long spiritual history.

Now, let’s take a look at the other differences between Cannabis and Hemp.

Cannabis Vs. Hemp: Legality

This difference between marijuana and hemp is undoubtedly one of the most crucial distinctions. Both the species of the plant were legal for a very long period across the world. Among numerous civilizations, the numerous uses of hemp have made it an extremely popular plant. There was an order for early settlers in Virginia to do the plantation of hemp. And if they didn’t comply with this order they had to face a fine.

Cannabis has professed numerous medical uses. Humankind has done the consumption of this plant for millennia. The legality of marijuana has made people make use of it as a recreational drug.

Those people who desired to cultivate hemp could only do that if they had a license as part of their program of the state. The crop must comprise a maximum THC of 0.3%. It is legal to grow hemp in dozens of counties in today’s time. Although CBD products derived out of hemp are not federally legal as well. There is big tolerance than for THC products derived from cannabis.

Genetic Composition of Cannabis & Hemp

While both cannabis and hemp come from similar Cannabis plants, both these are not genetically similar. A study published in 2015 in PLoS One has concluded that significantly both these plants were differentiated at a genome-wide level. This discovery has shown that “the differentiation between these populations is not limited to just genes that are underlying THC production.

There was research conducted by Canadian genomic over millennia of cultivations. It has shown that farmers have selectively bred Cannabis Sativa into a pair of distinct strains. One is for seeds and fiber and the other is for medicine.

Cannabis plants are dioecious especially those in Cannabis Sativa. This term describes plants that do the production of both a distinct male and female plant. Female flowers are more crucial for the production of drugs. Growers usually make use of male plants for the production of hemp fibers.

When someone does the cultivation of cannabis for the production of cannabis, it comes from a huge variety of plants. It is where female flowers have been selected. Also, growers have to remove the male plants for preventing pollination.

In contrast when someone does cultivation of cannabis for the production of seeds and hemp fiber. They make efforts for preventing the plant from flowering. Rather than this, they force it for growing tall with less amount of branching.

Cultivation & Visual Differences

It is crucial for law enforcement officials to get training for assisting them in distinguishing between cannabis and hemp. These plants might look similar at first glance to those people who are having less awareness. However, there are few things for focusing on that will assist you in telling them apart.

  • Leaves: Generally cannabis leaves are much broader.
  • Height: Hemp plants are generally encouraged for growing to a great height. With most of the leaves that are growing at the top, they are skinny and tall. Cannabis plants are popular for growing tightly clustered and short. On the other hand, some of these plants grow to extreme heights. Significantly they appear bushier than hemp. Tallest is the cannabis Sativa followed by Indica. In contrast, Ruderalis plants are short.
  • Cultivation: Growers of cannabis make sure that their plants grow bushy with various leaves and branches. It is for the production of a large yield of buds. Usually, hemp consists of one central stalk with few leaves and branches.
  • The Density of Planting: Farmers of hemp give preference to dense planting for the prevention of branching and flowering. Cultivators of cannabis make efforts to space their plants out.
  • Production: A marijuana plant will yield around one pound of dried floral material on average. Depending on the strain, it is different. An acre of hemp might yield up to 1,000 pounds of seeds. It equates to up to five tons of dry matter.

It is not a wise decision to try and grow both these plants together in nearby fields. The pollen present in hemp would wreak havoc that is amongst the cannabis crop. It damages the intoxicating properties and gives origin to the male plants.

Usage of Hemp & Marijuana

Hemp comes with a remarkable number of uses. Popular uses of hemp are inclusive of:

  • Food and Drink
  • Beauty & Skincare
  • Supplements
  • Clothing And Accessories
  • Rope
  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Fuel
  • Buildings
  • Hemp does the absorption whatever is present in the soil as a means of cleaning soil. This process is popular as phytoremediation. The plantation of hemp takes place near Chernobyl.

There is a growth of a significant proportion of hemp for the CBD market likewise. You will come to find cannabidiol concentrations in the leaves, flowers, and stems. You will not find much of it in the seeds and roots. As we know that CBD market is extremely crucial. We expect that farmers continue to do the cultivation of hemp for its myriad of other uses.

It can do the production of ethanol and biodiesel as fuels. And it can do the creation of a type of concrete for homebuilding. Hemp plastic is popular as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic. Still, an acre of hemp does the production up to ten times more paper than an acre of trees across a 20-year cycle.

Relatively cannabis is limited in terms of usage. In the main, people make use of it for medicinal purposes or recreationally. The intoxicating high of it assists people to have a feeling of relaxation. However, most people claim that it also assists with numerous issues. These issues are inclusive of chronic pain, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.


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