I struggled with these terms at first, but it's actually pretty simple.
The term “Cannabis” is a species of plant which covers both Marijuana and Hemp.
Both 'Marijuana' and 'Hemp' are sub-species of Cannabis plants.
The primary difference between marijuana and hemp is THC content.
(THC is the chemical compound that "gets you high")
The marijuana sub-species is typically high (no pun intended) in THC content.
While the hemp sub-species has little to no THC. Hemp is recently known for higher CBD content. (CBD is another compound found in cannabis plants which has many medical benefits.)
Both THC and CBD are important compounds contained in Cannabis plants. Each has a different set of effects, which we will discuss in a few minutes.
Marijuana vs. Hemp: THC vs. CBD
Cannabis (both marijuana and hemp sub-species) contains over 100 chemical compounds, including both CBD and THC.
Each sub-species of Cannabis, (marijuana and hemp) differ based on their quantity and concentration of each of these elements.
For example, marijuana plants typically contain between 15-20% THC and up to 10% CBD.
While Hemp plants typically contain less than 1% THC and up to 20% CBD.
Because of this difference in their chemical makeup, the medical benefits, uses, effects, and legal status differ from state to state and country to country.
Hemp is federally legal in the United States, while Marijuana remains federally illegal.
As of 2021, 70% of the USA has legalized some form of marijuana use, either medically or recreational.
Legal Status: Hemp vs. Marijuana & THC vs. CBD
THC is currently illegal in the eyes of the federal government, but it wasn't always that way.
I did some digging and found that in 1937, the use of cannabis was restricted and banned after passing the Marijuana Tax Act.
The act was passed with-out any documented scientific evidence.
In 1970 the ‘Controlled Substance Act’ was passed which assigned cannabis a Schedule I drug. (schedule 1 drugs are said to have no medical benefit and have the harshest punishments)
Again, The act was passed with-out any documented scientific evidence.
Years later, one of the biggest influencers of banning marijuana spoke up.
“Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
– John Ehrlichman
Since cannabis was classified as a schedule 1 drug it carried higher penalties than both Cocaine and Meth!
In 2012, Washington State & Colorado became the 1st states to not only decriminalize, but fully legalize marijuana for recreational use.
In 2014 the ‘farm bill’ was passed into law which defined industrial hemp as different from marijuana.
Finally in 2018, a new version of the 2014 farm bill was passed which ‘cleaned up the language’ & made hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) federally legal in all 50 states at the national level.
As of 2021, 36 states (72% of the US) have either recreations or medical marijuana (THC) programs.
Effects: Marijuana vs. Hemp (THC vs. CBD)
The effects of both marijuana and hemp (and THC vs. CBD) are quite different.
In a nutshell, THC is commonly associated with treating pain, sleep / insomnia, and nausea. THC also has a psycho-active component which is responsible for what commonly known as a “”high”” feeling.
CBD is mainly associated with anxiety relief, as an anti-inflammatory, and as an immune system balancing agent. CBD does not cause any “”high””.
Only a relaxed feeling.
Medical Uses: Marijuana vs. Hemp (THC vs. CBD)
When dealing with medical marijuana frequently the THC and CBD are extracted from the marijuana and hemp plants and then later combined in a specific ratio.
The medical benefits of both THC & CBD come from their interaction with the human Endo-Cannabinoid System, specifically the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
THC and CBD are combined at different ratios for maximum medical benefit depending on the condition.
For example, a vape pen with a 1:1, THC to CBD ratio, would be great for anxiety because the CBD will balance out the THC.
However, a product with a 20:1, THC to CBD ratio, would be better for pain because of the higher concentration of THC.
Due to what’s known as ‘the entourage effect’ CBD, THC and other trace elements on cannabis work better when combined with one another.
8 THC Medical Benefits:
- Pain relief
- Reducing muscle spasticity
- Managing glaucoma
- Improving insomnia
- Increasing appetite
- Treating nausea
- Helping with anxiety
13 CBD Medical Benefits:
- Reducing seizures
- Management of inflammatory bowel disease
- Treating nausea
- Medication for migraines
- Helping with depression
- Decreasing inflammation
- Lowering pain
- Managing psychosis or other mental disorders
- Helping with anxiety
- Balancing immune system responses
- Relieving autism symptoms
- Treating skin disorders
- Improving problems related to PMS as well as menopause
Side Effects: THC vs. CBD
Cannabis products with high levels of THC can have temporary side effects including:
- Increased appetite (munchies)
- An increase in heart rate.
- Dryness of the mouth
- Redness of the eyes
- Heightened sense of awareness
- Mild “”high”” feeling
Interesting enough, CBD doses are well-tolerated and do not involve a lot of in any potential side effects.
The only thing you need to be aware of when consuming CBD, is to avoid drug-to-drug reactions as much as you can.
Be cautious of the composition of other medications that you are taking. You must discuss your current medication routine with your physician.
Drug Testing: THC vs. CBD
Both THC and CBD are easy to detect via blood tests because each of them accumulates in body fat.
However, most if not all common drug tests are specific for THC and not for CBD.
So, if you have used marijuana, which has a high content of THC in it, you will get a positive result on a drug test.
It’s important to note that hemp can produce small quantities of THC as well. This THC, even though little, can still show up on blood tests.
Luckily, most states are getting rid of antiquated and outdated drug testing policies.
Conclusion: Cannabis vs. Marijuana vs. Hemp (THC vs. CBD)
Cannabis is a general term or family name. Marijuana and Hemp plants are both sub-specific and individual types of cannabis.
It’s important to understand that marijuana typically contains high concentrations of THC, while Hemp typically contains high concentrations of CBD.
Most cannabis products these days contain both THC and CBD in different ratios.
The different ratios of THC vs CBD are very important depending on your medical condition.
Different states have different laws for THC. While CBD has been cleared as 100% federally legal.
As more tests are done, and as more and more people are seeing the benefits of marijuana, laws will continue to change.
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