Is hemp the “good girl” and marijuana her “elicit cousin”?
While many people equate the word cannabis with “marijuana,” cannabis is actually a designation for a family of plants that have two primary classifications — Indica and Sativa. Marijuana can be from either Indica or Sativa, but hemp is only a member of the Cannabis Sativa family.
Applications of Hemp and Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana serve completely different purposes. You may ask if the battle of “CBD vs THC” is a valid one.
Marijuana is used either for medicinal or recreational purposes. Hemp is used in variety of other applications, some of which are both interesting and surprising:
- Sunglasses and ski goggles
- Paper products
- Composites for Automobiles
- Building Materials
- Food products
- 3-D Printing Filament and Bio-plastics
- Soil Remediation and Reclamation
- Dietary supplements
Overall, hemp is known to have over 25,000 possible applications to date.
Don’t the plants look the same?
Surprisingly, hemp plants and marijuana plants look remarkably different. Hemp plants have tall, fibrous stalks that are very strong, have very few flowering buds, and have skinnier leaves concentrated at the top. Hemp plants can grow to be almost 15 feet tall. Industrial hemp is produced to contain only trace amounts of THC (no more than 0.3%).
Marijuana plants are short and bushy. They usually have broad leaves and dense buds. They typically don’t grow to be taller than 5 feet. These plants have high amounts of THC (5%-40%).
What’s amazing is that industrial hemp and medical marijuana are so distinctively different that most laypeople wouldn’t be able to tell that they belong to the same genus of plants if they saw them in the wild!
The environment in which these two types of plants are grown is also strikingly different. Hemp is grown closely together. In fact, they can be as close as 4 inches apart. They are typically grown in large multi-acre plots. Hemp can also grow in variety of climates. It has a long growth cycle of 108-120 days.
Medical marijuana plants cannot be grown too close to each other — typically being placed 6 feet apart. Marijuana requires a carefully controlled, warm, and humid atmosphere for optimal growth. Its growth cycle is a short 60-90 days.
In addition, if marijuana were to grow among — or even close to — a hemp field, the hemp’s pollen would immediately ruin the marijuana crop by diluting the marijuana plants’ psychoactive nature.
Since marijuana has large amounts of THC, it is grown for its psychoactive nature. Marijuana can be smoked, inhaled, ingested or injected directly into the body. THC can also be extracted from the plant and used in capsules, vaporizers, edibles and more.
Contrastingly, hemp is primarily used for industrial purposes since it is capable of producing hundreds of crucial resources. Hemp is also used to produce a wide variety of THC-free CBD products such as capsules, soft gels, edibles, vape oils, sublingual oils, beauty products, and more.