Although Cannabis is a headliner in the news these days, there are many people who do not know the difference between marijuana and hemp. Some people think they are just different names for the same plant. Marijuana and hemp might both come from the Cannabis plant; but they couldn't be more different .
Actually there is a very big difference between marijuana and hemp. Marijuana consists of the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa). The level of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinoids) in marijuana is quite high, and it is the ingredient that causes people to get high from smoking the plant. Marijuana is also low in CBD (Cannabidiol ), which is an ingredient that blocks the effects of THC. Broken down, the THC in marijuana is anywhere between 5% and 22 %, while CBD will come in at less than 1%. With the exception of a few states such as Colorado and Washington, these elements are what make marijuana illegal in most states for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
Hemp, on the other hand, is grown for its seeds, fiber, and oil. Though much lower in THC (0.3 percent to 1.5 percent), hemp is much higher in CBD (Cannabidiol ), causing a negative reaction from THC. THC is a resin that is found in the buds and flowers of the female cannabis plant, whereas hemp is not cultivated to produce buds.
One of the most popular reasons for its production is the simple fact that hemp is one of the strongest and most durable natural fibers in the world. Hemp is also used for making paper, referred to as tree-free paper, and can be recycled many more times than paper made from trees. The seeds and oils are very high in protein, vitamins, and amino and fatty acids .
The history of hemp farmers dates back over 10,000 years, and it was considered the best agricultural crop for fiber in this country until the late 19th century. To date, hemp is still the largest produced crop in many other countries including: England, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and China to name only a few. Researchers believe hemp would be ideal for fuel, because the Ethanol in hemp burns very cleanly.
Legalization of Hemp Opens the Door to Many Resources:
Due to its popularity as a recreational drug, marijuana became illegal as early as the 1920s. In the 1950s, the United States placed hemp in the same category as marijuana, and kicked it out of the country. Getting back to hemp's most popular usage as a fiber, it is excellent for blankets, ropes, and paper. Many ecologists fight continually regarding the demise of our trees; which offer oxygen into the air we breathe, keep lands from erosion, and offer homes to countless numbers of wildlife including birds. Using hemp for paper could save many trees from becoming extinct. Hemp grows similarly to bamboo, producing a very strong and sturdy stalk, which can also be used in many forms of carpentry.
Growing hemp does not require any form of pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals. Unlike marijuana, it is grown very close together, and therefore does not take up a great deal of space. Marijuana grows to approximately 5 feet, whereas hemp can grow to heights of 10 to 15 feet.
Unlike marijuana, hemp is grown in rotation with other crops, such as corn because the conditions for corn and hemp are about the same. It would be an ideal crop for various areas throughout the U.S. including the southwest, northeast, and the southeast. More hemp can be grown per acre because it takes up such small amounts of space, and therefore offers a very high yield.
The U.S. farmers are missing out on all the benefits of growing hemp, a grower can get a special permit to grow hemp but the permits are few and far between. Those that have these permits must have high security measures in place as well. These security measures include high fences, barbed wire, and or dogs. For a plant that offers absolutely no potential for anyone getting high, it seems ludicrous!
With other states debating and possibly allowing the growth and use of marijuana, there might be hope for the hemp plant as well. This part of Cannabis can offer a wealth of options if being allowed to grow within this country again. Let's hope that even states that outlaw marijuana, will look at the potential of hemp, and bring the plant and all its benefits back to the United States!