In the world of cannabis, there are more names for the same family of plants than you might think. Cannabis, hemp and marijuana are all terms for plants in the Cannabaceae family, but there are differences between them, some botanical and some scientific.
What is Hemp?
Since its first cultivation in China, hemp has become one of the key plants in the history of mankind. Playing a key role in the Age of Discovery, without hemp Europeans would not have been able to reach the shores of America or Oceania. But we would like to explain it a little more in depth.
Although it is a variety of this plant, hemp should not be confused with marijuana, as it contains a very small amount of THC (<0.02 %|0.03%), which is the active ingredient responsible for its psychotropic effects. It is a plant with a variety of applications in many sectors, but not much is known about it, despite the fact that it has been cultivated for centuries. It is cultivated by humans because of its many nutritional and environmental benefits, making it a highly valued raw material. Hemp seeds are used in food and the plant's fibre, which is very strong, is used in the manufacture of houses, car bodies and aeroplanes. In Spain, the THC level is a legal line that defines hemp and marijuana. Hemp is generally defined as Cannabis sativa L. plants containing 0.3% THC or less. Plants above the 0.3% THC limit are considered marijuana and remain illegal nationally under the Spanish Ministry's Controlled Substances Act.
Hemp has multiple applications in food, industry and the environment, being one of the most versatile crops available today.
The stalk of a hemp plant, for example, can be used for textile manufacturing or biofuel development. Hemp seeds are eaten or used to create hemp seed oil, while flowers can be used to extract CBD for use in a wide range of products, including personal care products such as our Balance Oil.
What is Cannabis Sativa L.?
The word Cannabis is a taxonomic term referring to a genus of flowering plants that are members of the family Cannabaceae, which includes about 140 plant species. The genus is usually divided into three species:
- Cannabis sativa
- Cannabis indica
- Cannabis ruderalis
The origins of the cannabis genus are unclear, as the lack of significant fossil evidence makes it difficult for botanists to place its evolutionary divergence from other organisms. Using a "molecular clock" and computer algorithms to estimate the age of the genus, the researchers determined that cannabis likely diverged from a common ancestor with its most closely related genus - Humulus - about 27.8 million years ago.
Regardless of taxonomic minutiae, the headline is that "cannabis" is actually a broader classification that contains both hemp and marijuana plants. In the end, for all their differences, both types of plants are indeed cannabis.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana is the heady cousin of hemp. Depending on your preferred taxonomic methods, marijuana may also be largely composed of Cannabis sativa plants. And while marijuana and hemp may share a species, they are legally and chemically distinct in significant ways.
The high levels of THC found in marijuana plants cause intoxication when consumed.
Marijuana is sold in a variety of ways. One of the most common products is simply dried flower or buds, which are then cured. However, like hemp, marijuana is often extracted to create concentrated extracts that can be sold or used as an ingredient in edibles, oils and many other products.
Scientific studies have shown that Cannabis is effective against pathologies such as:
- Crohn's disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Parkinson's disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Tourette Syndrome
The difference between hemp and marijuana
Today, "cannabis" and "marijuana" are often used interchangeably in the industry, which can cause confusion. Since the word "cannabis" technically refers to the entire genus of flowering plants that includes both hemp and marijuana, it is not entirely accurate to exclude hemp when using the term. Historically, the word "marijuana" has been used to distinguish between cannabis that is hemp and cannabis that is not hemp, based on the percentage of THC contained in each plant.
As you can see there are several ways in which we can exploit the use of cannabis and we fall short in trying to explain in as much detail as possible the positive aspects of it. In a world where we have become accustomed to disposable, synthetic and environmentally damaging products and processes, hemp is the secret weapon in the fight against pollution.
Cannabis is a practical, renewable and therapeutic resource.