Hemp is one of the oldest domesticated crops known to man and is believed to have originated in South or Central Asia.
Hemp is one of the strongest, most durable, natural soft-fibers on this planet. It has been used for paper, fuel, oils, medicine, clothing, housing, plastic, rope, and even food for thousands of years. In fact, the Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a scrap of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
Because of this, hemp has a wide variety of uses. An interesting fact to take away is that hemp was even considered legal tender (money), as people were able to pay their taxes with hemp for over 200 years in America. Hemp was so valuable that farmers were sometimes fined or even jailed for not growing cannabis in both America and England.
Marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis. They each have their own separate uses and benefits.
One of the first differences of how you should distinguish between hemp and marijuana is the fact that marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. Many use it for the psychoactive purposes (“high”) or non-psychoactive effects and benefits depending on the cannabinoid content.
Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of cannabidiol (CBD) in most instances and only a trace amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the psychoactive purposes (“high”).
Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so many other industrial and environmental uses and benefits throughout history.
Within the past decade, researchers have become increasingly interested in the medical benefits of another compound found in both plants, known as cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant but is reputed to help with a myriad of medical conditions.
It's important to know that although THC and CBD are the most studied components of cannabis, there are many more chemical compounds found within the plant, such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabidivarin (CBDV), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), terpenes, and flavonoids. While there is still much to learn about these other chemicals, researchers have discovered that whole-plant cannabis extracts that contain these other chemicals are more beneficial than isolated extracts that contain just CBD or THC.
Scientifically, industrial hemp and marijuana are the same plants, with a genus and species name of Cannabis sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though.
Why hemp and marijuana typically get mixed up is because they both are from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa L.
Although both hemp and marijuana have male and female sexes, the female plant gender is the one that mainly distinguishes hemp from marijuana. In the marijuana plant, the female plants produce the buds and flowers for users to consume in order to gain psychoactive or non-psychoactive effects. With hemp on the other hand, the female plants bare the seeds and have strong fibers, which is what hemp is mainly used for. For this reason, hemp is used mostly for industrial and commercial purposes
Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. Typically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in Switzerland are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes.
To put it in perspective, marijuana can have anywhere from 5% to over 20% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, while hemp only has 0.3% to 1.5% of THC.
This article was written by an independent and third-party author specialising in CBD, hemp and cannabis research. Any opinion, advice or recommendation expressed in the article does not reflect the opinion of Formula Swiss AG or any of our employees. We do not make any claims about any of our products and refer to our disclaimer for more information.
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