The Green Divide: Understanding the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana

The Green Divide: Understanding the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana

Defining Cannabis

Cannabis is a complex plant that causes wide ranging impacts on the body and mind.  It contains hundreds of chemical compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that interact with receptors throughout the body to produce a range of effects.  In addition to its chemical complexity, consumption form impacts the way the plant is experienced.  For example, smoking cannabis can produce a more immediate and intense effect, while consuming cannabis edibles may lead to slower onset and effects that last longer.   Further, the plant presents in diverse physical forms depending on factors such strain and growing conditions.  Overall, this complexity makes cannabis a fascinating and versatile plant, but it also underscores the importance of responsible use and careful attention to dosages and other factors that can impact its effects.

 There are two primary cannabis species: cannabis sativa and cannabis indica.  Sativa strains tend to be more uplifting and energizing, while indica strains are typically more relaxing and sedating.  Hybrids of these two can also be found and these strains exhibit characteristics associated with both sativa and indica depending on specific genetic makeup.  It is difficult to determine the exact number of cannabis strains that have been discovered.  New strains are constantly being developed, existing strains are often crossbred to create new varieties and there is no standardized system for classifying and naming strain.  That said, there are thousands of different cannabis strains in existence.


Marijuana vs. Hemp

Marijuana and hemp are general classifications that have been used to describe cannabis plants with different chemical and physical characteristics, uses and legal status.  Marijuana is used to refer to cannabis plants that contain high levels of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that produces the characteristic "high" associated with cannabis use. Marijuana plants were historically grown for their flowers which are harvested and dried for use in smoking or vaporizing.  Hemp, on the other hand, is a term used to refer to cannabis plants that contain very low levels of THC.  Hemp plants were historically grown for their fibers which can be used to make a variety of products such as clothing, paper, and building materials, as well as for their seeds, which are used as a food source and in some health supplements.

In many countries, including the United States, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug and is illegal to grow, sell, or use. Hemp, on the other hand, is legal to grow and use as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.


The Devil’s Lettuce Mythology

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of slang terms that have been used to refer to cannabis over the years.  Some of the most common and well-known include weed, pot, grass, herb, Mary Jane, reefer, ganja and bud. New ones constantly emerge as cannabis becomes more mainstream and socially accepted. Many are regional or cultural in nature and may be unfamiliar or unknown to people outside of certain communities or regions.

“Devil's Lettuce" is our personal favorite.  The term’s origins are not entirely clear, but it likely emerged in the early 20th century as part of the broader cultural and social movement against cannabis use which was fueled in part by sensationalist media reports and political campaigns that demonized the drug as a dangerous and corrupting influence. While this term is now primarily used as a joke or humorous reference, it reflects the plant’s controversial history and its place in society.


The Complex Nature of Cannabis

The intricate nature of cannabis and its impact on the body and mind requires responsible use and careful attention to dosages and consumption form. With thousands of different strains and variations, it is important to understand the differences between cannabis species, such as sativa and indica, as well as the general classifications of marijuana and hemp. While marijuana remains illegal in many countries, including the United States, hemp is legal and offers a variety of uses beyond its fibers, including food sources and health supplements. As the legalization and regulation of cannabis continues to evolve, it is important to stay informed and make responsible choices.