Hemp vs. Marijuana
There is always confusion about the difference between commercial hemp and marijuana. Despite the fact that they are the same plant species, here distinguish. Among other things, in the use, chemical composition, growth and cultivation. With this info we want to show where the core differences lie and how these terms can be understood correctly. At the same time, “weed” as such (marijuana) struggled with many stigmas, which is still the case today. Therefore we would like to describe – as far as possible – some wrong assumptions.
One and the same
Hemp and marijuana both belong to the same plant species, cannabis sativa.
However, this situation is similar with the comparison of dog breeds. Large, small, weak and strong dogs differ in physical genetics, but also the nature, the behavior varies greatly between breeds. And so it is with hemp and cannabis. They are different enough to find different uses, but still similar enough to be crossbred.
One chemical difference is that hemp produces little to no THC. Hemp has a very high content of CBD compared to cannabinoids. Therefore, hemp is usually not suitable for getting “high”, but otherwise tastes very similar.
As marijuana could be defined a breeding goal. With these plants, the explicit aim is to grow high levels of THC. The psychoactive effect is intentional and maximized in experienced growers. The marijuana has a very high content of THC compared to hemp, but also has other cannabinoids, such as CBD.
According to another definition, the hemp subspecies is classified under the species “Cannabis Sativa”. And that’s if it contains less than 0.3% THC. Thus, the use falls squarely on the manufacture of textiles, fiber products, fuels, and products like CBD oils.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is the “consumed” cannabis that emphasizes psychoactive benefits. It has more than 0.3% THC and is not alone with Cannabis Sativa either. The related species Cannabis Indica belongs to the Cannabis genus, but is only distantly related to hemp or Cannabis Sativa. This is roughly comparable to the domestic dog and the wolf. Both belong to the same genus, and are therefore genetically only distantly related. Cannabis Indica is also marijuana in this case, because it also has a high THC content. However, the effect is different from sativa marijuana because of the terpene interaction.
But is that enough of an explanation? We don’t think so. We’re looking back at what it’s really like:
Cannabis is thought to have been one of the first commodities to be cultivated by man in the early Neolithic. And the purposes for cannabis changed throughout history. Where medicine was the main focus in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, fibre for masts, rope, paper and materials became increasingly important in the Middle Ages. This monocultural approach of mankind is possibly the best justification why there are different cannabis sativa, or hemp is different from marijuana.
The result was that the hemp always contained less THC. So naturally, over a very long period of several thousand years, the THC disappeared from hemp. The CBD enriched in it, however, still had a high therapeutic and nutritional added value.
Especially for shamanistic rituals, which have been practiced several thousand years before Christ. already existed, the increased THC content was of greater interest for psychoactivity. The intoxicating effect enabled the shamans to reach a willed trance state and communicate out of body. Here one speaks then rather of marihuana.
The hemp is densely cultivated. The fields are usually narrower in greenhouses, which means that the hemp therefore grows with few side branches. To do this, you also do not separate the males from the females. The hemp farmer will make it come to pollination, as the seeds are one of the most popular products of hemp.
In the European hemp catalogue, up to 52 types of hemp are permitted for agriculture.
cultivation, a certain distance between the plants is very important, so that they can develop in width. The flowers need space to develop freely. The genetic predisposition in marijuana is also to produce better and fuller flowers. The males are separated here so that pollination cannot occur. The marijuana flowers are only really enjoyable without seeds. Additionally, potency (i.e. THC content) decreases drastically after pollination, as the female marijuana invests her energy into ripening the seeds. And the longer it is not fertilized, the larger and more potent the flowers.
Accidentally crossing marijuana with hemp means the next generation’s flowers will be weaker. Both from their size and THC content. By the way, hemp cultivation with THC levels below one percent is
legal in Switzerland
. Permits must be obtained for THC-rich cannabis.
But when you hear cannabis these days, it’s immediately equated with the marijuana, weed, ott, …. This is only half the truth, as we can see from the example of hemp. The term “marijuana” comes from colloquial Spanish. Immigrant Mexicans came up with the idea of smoking cannabis recreationally.
The long-running anti-cannabis campaign in the US in the 30s ensured that the word – especially for immigrants – became much like the N-word used to be. These days, people also prefer to say “medical cannabis” rather than “medical marijuana,” don’t they?
This also answers the question that hemp alone is “male” plants and cannabis is “female”. That can’t be right. Hemp continues to develop independently, as mentioned above.
Also, defining the difference by medical or recreational use is wrong because that is not fundamental enough. E.g.
a high value in recreational use and THC also has pain-relieving, medicinal benefits.