Hemp Vs. Marijuana: What's the Difference?
Have you ever passed by a store window that displayed hemp purses, clothing, or
other products for sale? Many people immediately think of marijuana when they
see hemp products, and while the word "hemp" frequently pops up in
marijuana-related debates, hemp and marijuana are not the same thing. One of the
most important differences is that marijuana can get a person high and hemp
cannot. Let's look at some of their other characteristics:
What do hemp and marijuana have in common?
Hemp and marijuana are varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant.
It is illegal to grow both hemp and marijuana in the United States (although it
is not illegal to sell or purchase hemp productshence the hemp bags and dresses
you see in store windows). The two plants have similar aromas when in
bloomhowever, only one will get a person high because only one of the varieties
contains any significant amounts of THC. Hemp does contain traces of THC,
but not enough to get a person high.
How are hemp and marijuana different?
Smoking marijuana will make the user high, and smoking hemp will not. Hemp
contains less than 1 percent of the active ingredient THC, the substance that
gives pot smokers a high. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, can contain 10 to 20
Marijuana plants and hemp plants have different appearances and are harvested
differently. Marijuana plants tend to be short and bushy, while hemp plants can
have stalks that are 25 feet high!
Unlike marijuana, hemp has many uses. Over 25,000 products can be manufactured
from hemp, including hair conditioner, diapers, insulation, carpets, paper, and
perfume. Things like rope made out of hemp never rot like traditional
rope. Hemp as a food is one of the most easily absorbed by the body, and
can help you live a healthier and happier life.
The hemp debate and the marijuana debate are often confused with each other.
Proponents of legalizing hemp cultivation focus on the plant's many uses and the
fact that it requires no pesticides in order to flourish. However, opponents
express concern that permitting hemp cultivation would result in the
legalization of marijuana cultivation because both hemp and marijuana come from
the same plant. Opponents also say that other raw materials are more economical
than industrial hemp, which has been disproved on more than one occasion. Cultivating hemp is currently illegal in the United
States, although hemp items are imported, including hemp foods.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is supposedly illegal because of its health risks. Proponents
of legalizing marijuana point to recent studies that show that there may be some
medical benefits associated with marijuana use. But, any benefits of legalizing
marijuanamedical or otherwisehave to be weighed against the disadvantages,
such as the intoxicating effects, which, oddly enough, are far safer than the
high achieved by alcohol or cigarettes.
During debates about the legal status of marijuana, the environmental and
economic benefits of hemp may be used in arguments for the legalization of
marijuana. But, remember that hemp and marijuana are not the same thing.
 The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National
Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, 1998 National Drug Control
Strategy, ncadi.samhsa.gov/govpubs/ndcs98/iv-f.html, last referenced June 27,
*On May 14th, 2001, the United States Supreme Court ruled 8-0 against medicinal
marijuana under federal law. Despite the fact that 13 States allow medicinal use
of marijuana, United States federal law prohibits medicinal use of marijuana
according to U.S. v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, No. 00-151, but this
is constantly being appealed, and individual states, who see immense benefits of
medical marijuana are circumventing the irrational stance that the Federal
Government takes on pot.
Information partially provided by ForReal.com