Hemp vs Marijuana

Hemp vs. Marijuana – What’s the Difference?

The rules in the U.S. governing the manufacture, sale, and use of the cannabis plant is comprised of a patchwork of different laws and regulations. On the one hand, Americans have to contend with federal and DEA laws and regulations, while also taking into account individual state laws. For many people, knowing what’s legal and what isn’t regarding the cannabis plant and its derivatives can be confusing. Furthermore, laws that regulate the different types of cannabis plants complicates the issue even more. The cannabis genome is home to two different, primary strains of the plant – marijuana, and hemp. So, what’s the difference between the two?

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is the type of cannabis plant that gets a person high. The main chemical compound in the marijuana plant that produces euphoria and can have a range of both therapeutic and non-therapeutic effects is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.

What is hemp?

Hemp is also a part of the cannabis genome, and this strain of plants contains little to no THC. Smoking, ingesting, or vaporizing a hemp plant won’t get a person high. Both marijuana and hemp plants contain more than 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system. CBD products are usually made from strains of hemp, which has a high quantity of the beneficial cannabinoid, cannabinol. Marijuana and hemp strains are further broken down into two categories, either indica or sativa strains. These strains have different flowering and growing periods and are also suited to certain climates for growing. The plant strains also differ in appearance.

Is marijuana or hemp legal?

This is where things get incredibly complicated for consumers. As the CBD industry continues to grow in popularity, consumers may end up with more questions than answers regarding the legality of either hemp or marijuana.

In the early part of the last century, marijuana and hemp were both banned and classified as schedule one substances by the DEA. Until recently, the federal government considered cannabis to have no therapeutic effects whatsoever, and it was made illegal on a federal level. But technically, the states could still allow residents to use the product. The first state to legalize marijuana for medical use was California in 1996. In 2012, Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use.

In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill took away hemp’s schedule one status, effectively legalizing the plant on a federal level. However, the Farm Bill did not remove marijuana’s status as a schedule one drug, and as such, it is still illegal on a federal level. It is now legal for people to ship THC-free CBD products across state lines. But any CBD products that are derived from marijuana, and marijuana itself, is still subject to federal regulations. Federal officials can still come to a state that has legalized marijuana and charge growers, sellers, and users with a variety of different crimes.

Where is it legal to buy hemp or marijuana?

In nine states and the District of Columbia, it is legal to buy marijuana for recreational use. On a federal level, it is legal to buy hemp in any state of the Union, and it’s also legal to ship CBD products in from Europe, as long as the products contain less than .3% THC. But, a few states still criminalize the sale of hemp products. Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming have not legalized CBD.

Where is it legal to grow hemp or marijuana?

On a federal level, it is illegal to grow marijuana. However, some states allow their residents to grow marijuana for medicinal, and sometimes recreational use legally. But growing marijuana is subject to strict guidelines, and people will need a permit to grow the plant legally. The number of plants they can grow is also limited. States where it is legal to grow marijuana include:

  • Arizona
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • California
  • Michigan
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island
  • Oregon
  • New Mexico
  • Washington
  • Vermont

Hemp is legal to grow on a federal level, and states allow people to grow industrial hemp, subject to stringent guidelines.

Where is it legal to sell marijuana or hemp?

On a federal level, it is legal to sell hemp and hemp-derived products for both industrial and medicinal use. CBD that contains less than .3% THC is legal to buy and sell. The individual states also have their own laws regarding the sale of hemp and CBD products, with South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska having bans against hemp still on the books. Marijuana is legal to sell if a person has a permit in states where marijuana is legal for medicinal or recreational use. But marijuana is still considered a schedule one drug according to the federal government, and it’s illegal to purchase it.

What is hemp used for?

The hemp plant is incredibly durable, sturdy, and hearty. Growing hemp does not require a labor-intensive, precise process. The plant is inexpensive and easy to grow, and also process. Hemp plants can be made into a variety of industrial products, including textiles, paper products, construction materials, shoes, rope, food, and drinks.

How does hemp compare to other materials?

Before hemp was banned in the early 1900s, the plant was prevalent and was used to make a variety of everyday materials. Recent studies on hemp for industrial purposes have found it to be a sturdy and sustainable material for the construction industry.

Is CBD oil derived from hemp?

The majority of CBD products on the market today are derived from hemp plants. Obtaining beneficial CBD from the hemp plant ensures that it is free of THC levels that can make the products illegal on a federal level. Hemp plants are naturally low in THC, and high in CBD, the cannabinoid compound in the cannabis plant that offers users a range of different, therapeutic benefits.

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Last updated June 1 2019