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The difference between hemp and marijuana

"Hemp is just marijuana stems."  "Hemp is the male marijuana plant".  "If you eat enough hemp, you'll get high."  "Hemp is illegal because otherwise, people would hide marijuna plants in hemp fields...."   Have you heard anything like this before?  Unfortunately, misinformation about the relationship between hemp and marijuana is everwhere, even with people that think they know a lot about cannabis.  However, they are actually very plants, genetically distinct and grown very differently from each other. Think about peppers. Spicy peppers, like jalapeno and habanero peppers, have relatively high levels of a chemical called capsaicin.  Sweet peppers are still peppers, but don't have nearly the same effects on the mind and body.

 

Both hemp and marijuana are varieties of the cannabis plant.  Over thousands of years, cannabis has been selectively bred to be best suited for a variety of climate conditions, soil types, and uses.  Today, there are hundreds of different types suited for specific uses. 

Delta-9-TetrahydrocannabinolTHC

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of types of high THC cannabis, each with differing amounts of THC and different levels of other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, CBD.  There are also types suited for outdoor or indoor growing, differnt light patterns, etc. High THC varieties of cannabis typically have between 5%-20% THC.

What about Hemp?
While marijuna has been selectively bred for high THC and nothing else, Hemp has been genetically distinct for thousands of years, and, whether for seed or fiber, bred specifically for extremely low THC.  Hemp typically contains between 0.001% and 0.3% THC, over ten times less than the weakest of marijuana.  There are also other cannabinoids in the hemp plant that mean that smoking some ridiculous amount of 500 still won't get you high. Same with food as well- eating hempseed or hemp oil won't get you high and won't make you fail a drug test.

Hemp Plants photoThe Differences in Growth.
Opponents of hemp farming like to say that they look so simliar, that law enforcement won't be able to tell the difference, and that someone could grow marijuana and say that it is hemp.  Ask any farmer and you'll get a different answer. 

Marijuana plants are spaced far apart from each other, are carefully pruned, males are removed, and they do not grow very tall.  Hemp, on the other hand, is planted in tight rows, and grows tall, 6 feet, 8 feet, and if grown for fiber, it can grow 12 feet, 15 feet, or even taller! Hemp is grown on a large scale; several acres at a time. Just by seeing how the seed is planted, one can tell that someone is not growing marijuana.


Growing Them Together.
Another central argument used by opponents of hemp farming is that, "illicit marijuana growers will hide a marijuna plant in a hempfield...".  This is actually a common practice in cornfields, so it is natural to be wary that it could be even easier in a hempfield.  But the opposite is just the case!

"Cross-pollination" is an agricultural term that describes what happens when two genetically distinct varieties pollinate with eachother, resulting in crossbreeds.  Male marijuna plants are removed to keep marijuana from pollinating (even with itself), or else it will produce seeds and lose value.  But even worse, if marijuana pollinates with hemp, it will become a mix of hemp and marijuana, essentially losing half of its THC content.  Hiding a marijuna plant in a hemp field would be suicide for the marijuana plant- it would turn the marijuana into hemp! 

In fact, former CIA director James Woolsey has promoted hemp for its anti-marijuana properties.  Hemp pollen is microscopic and can be blown for miles by the wind.  It can't be seen and can even enter indoors through cracks in the door or through windows.  A hempfield would naturally eradicate any marijuana grow operations for miles around.  Tell that to the next person that opposes hemp farming!!


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