MAY 03, 2018 11:48 PM PDT

The Diferrence Between Hemp and Cannabis as a Medicine

WRITTEN BY: Melissa Moore

Perhaps you have been investigating supplementing cannabidiol (CBD) into your diet? You have probably discovered that you can obtain CBD’s from products found on the shelf or internet and have asked yourself how come I can buy it over the counter or on the internet, but I need to be registered with my local state government to buy it at a dispensary?

The most significant difference lies in the containment of the psychoactive compound delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. Hemp and cannabis are the same species, but farmers bred different strains of the plant, with varying strategies of growing to meet distinct functions. Hemp strains have been bred to produce fiber; cannabis has been bred for the physical and mental effects it creates in the human body.

Of the many rumors circulating in what differentiates hemp from cannabis is the sex of the plant. Some believe hemp is the male gender of the plant, and cannabis is the female gender of the plant. This is not what differentiates the plants in the family, but the rumor did form from the vague understanding that cannabis cultivators harvest the female gender of the plant which produces the flowers and only use the male gender of the plant to pollinate when necessary. The belief that hemp is the male plant was developed from the traditional wisdom that male hemp fibers are softer and finer than female fibers. Fibers are also found to be in higher concentration in the male versus the female plant. Liber made from the male plant were conserved for the manufacturing of fine grades of clothes. Presently, it is the female gender of the plant that is used in the production of both hemp and cannabis. The male counterpart is used to pollinate the female in both cannabis and hemp. In places where hemp is grown for fiber, it is the male plant that is cultivated.

The biggest factor that differentiates hemp from cannabis is the number of cannabinoids and terpenes produced by each subspecies and gender. The male gender of the hemp plant contains deficient concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes. Europe cultivates hemp for fiber and seed production. When used to manufacture CBD products it must be concentrated in large amounts. But it's not just the cannabinoid CBD that is concentrated. Cannabis is a bio-accumulator, if grown with pesticides or grown in soils that contain heavy metals this passes on to the concentrated material produced. When cannabis was bred for fiber, the cannabinoids and terpenes were bred out of it. That is because it takes energy to produce one or the other.  To generate higher concentrations of one, energy must be delegated to a particular task. This is why hemp is high in fiber and cannabis is high in cannabinoids and terpenes.

You may have noticed that you can buy a hemp product with high concentrations of CBD per milliliter. That is because there are no regulations dictating a maximum allowable limit on hemp products. But, please be aware hemp products are produced from a large quantity of plant material. Always research the company you are purchasing a hemp product from. Check to make sure they are transparent with growing practices, the location of cultivation, and testing analysis. More importantly than cannabis you want to be sure your product is pesticide and heavy metal free due to the quantity of the plant that must be concentrated. Terpenes are often added to the product to add synergy to the benefits of the product. Check to make sure added terpenes are sourced responsibly from cannabis.

A product made from hemp is often chosen over CBD from cannabis. The reasoning lies in the availability and access to the products, and also the understanding that cannabis contains the psychoactive drug that causes the high effect. By law, hemp must contain 0.03 % THC or lower to be labeled hemp. Naïve cannabis users feel comfortable with this as it removes the fear of getting high.  However, cannabis does produce a more superior medicine. It is the growing practices and the synergistic effects of the compounds found in cannabis that are the underlying reason as to why cannabis is the better choice of medicine.

Sources: 4 Corners Cannabis, PurdueHemp, ITIS, Hemp, Hempoil, YouTube

About the Author
  • Currently working with Pharmacannis, a dispensary in Buffalo, NY. Resided in Northern California for the past 15 years working in the cannabis industry as a farmer, breeder, and chemical analyst. Received a bachelor's degree in biology at Keuka College in NY. Studied nursing at Mendocino College in CA, and currently attending University at Buffalo for a Master's of Education in Science and the Public. I have a passion for research with a focus in the field of endocannabinology.
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