Can You Distinguish Hemp From Cannabis?
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Sure, we' all know that hemp is different from cannabis. People generally know that hemp is the stuff that doesn’t get you high, but has many other uses and cannabis contains the psychoactive compound, THC. But what is hemp is exactly? It has similarities to the cannabis plant, and a bunch of characteristics that make it different. Here’s the broken down version of cannabis vs. hemp:
What is hemp?
Hemp is a plant that looks similar to and shares the same family as the cannabis plant. The cannabis genus (race) is made up of sativa’s, indica’s and ruderalis’. Hemp is a sativa species. The key components that differentiate a hemp plant from a cannabis plant would be its growth and the yield of THC. Hemp plants can contain high levels of CBD but do not consist of no more than 0.3% THC (by dry weight). In 2018, the Agricultural Act defined hemp as the non-intoxicating cannabis that is harvested for the industrial use of its derived products. The law also federally legalized hemp and hemp-derived products that contain no more than 0.3% THC.
A hemp plant will grow tall and slim, up to 20 feet tall, as compared to a cannabis plant being more short (most times) and bushy. Most of the hemp leaves grow on top of the plant, which are usually more thin than the cannabis plant. Hemp requires less time and attention that a marijuana plant. It is grown outdoors and is able to adapt to grow in most climates. Plants can be grown close together without fear of contamination.
Hemp has many beneficial uses aside from producing CBD. Many have been introduced to hemp fabric over the past few years - and its actually one of the softer fabrics of choice for us! Hemp is also used to make rope, paper, cement (yes, cement), fuel, soap, food supplements and many, many more things.
Hemp is known to have at least 25,000 forms of use.
Is it legal?
This is subject that is confused among many, including police and other authorities, because of its long history and misconception. The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act basically classified cannabis and hemp as the same thing. This act placed a tax on the sale of cannabis (and hemp). Then in the 1970’s, President Richard Nixon enacted the “War on Drugs” and signed the the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. This law made it illegal to possess, use or sell illegal drugs and created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In turn, hemp was outlawed as well.
Law enforcement was (and some still are) under the impression that cannabis (hemp included) is bad, according to the law. Not much thought, education or research went past that. Hemp and cannabis were classified as the same thing to authorities; so anything that looked, smelt or felt like such was considered to be illegal cannabis.
The Agricultural Act changed the definition of hemp and federally legalized hemp and hemp-derived products that contain no more than 0.3% THC. However, do not be surprised if you encounter a police officer ready to charge you with possession of marijuana. Law enforcement is still unaware of the differences between hemp and cannabis plants, and the equipment used to distinguish is very antiquated - checking for THC, but not for its concentration.