Let’s define cannabis before we jump into marijuana and hemp: cannabis is a genus of flowering plants native to Asia and India with a long history of human use for both medicinal and industrial purposes. Cannabis plants are in the kingdom Plantae, family Cannabaceae, and genus Cannabis.
But forget the fancy bilogical terminology and just make it easy on your self: cannabis plants are a big family of plants with similar characteristics and relationships, just like any other family.
Hemp and marijuana are distinct members of the cannabis family with unique attributes respectively.
Marijuana is a variety of cannabis grown primarily as a drug plant. Marijuana is widely used both as a therapeutic and recreational drug. Marijuana is grown for the high concentraion of resin found in female marijuana plants. Traditionally, female cannabis plants were considered the “medicinal” variety of the family. The resin of the females is where most of the cannabinoids like THC are and marijuana is bred mostly for its THC content. However, there are also marijuana strains with significant CBD content.
Hemp (legally defined: “industrial hemp”) is a variety of cannabis grown primarily around the world for fiber and seed. Hemp fiber and seeds have thousands of uses and hemp has been grown by humans for thousands of years. Hemp is low in THC content but it does contain CBD. CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid found in hemp. Special varieties of hemp are grown for their high CBD content in order to produce CBD rich products. These are special varieties of hemp that more closely resemble their marijuana siblings, but lack marijuana’s concentration of THC. Legally, industrial hemp is not allowed to contain more than 0.3% THC. For reference, marijuana plants can contain anywhere from 1% to 20%+ THC.
Both marijuana and hemp plants can be males and females. The female plants produce flowers and the flowers have the highest concentration of cannabinoid containing resin. So more resin = more cannabinoids. There are cannabinoids found in other parts of the plant like the leaves but nowhere near as concentrated as in the flowers of cannabis plants.
As we’ve covered on CBD School in another post, CBD hemp oil can be extracted from any kind of hemp plant since all hemp plants contain some amount of CBD. However, the best CBD hemp oil is made from the special varieties of hemp bred to produce high amounts of CBD and other cannabinoids.
Legal Definitions of Hemp and Marijuana
Since cannabis laws vary dramatically from state to state and country to country, it’s important that you know the laws for where you are located.
Marijuana is defined under US law as:
The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination. 21 USC 802(d) (16)
Hemp (Industrial Hemp) is defined under US law as:
Industrial hemp means a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis.
CBD rich products can be made from both marijuana and hemp plants. CBD products made from marijuana can only be obtained in states which have legalized medicinal or recreational marijuana use. CBD rich products from hemp on the other hand are more widely available in America because currently there are more states that allow for the use of hemp derived products than allow for marijuana derived products. Always double-check the laws in your state before you seek out CBD products.