On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law the farm bill, which contained a provision legalizing hemp, a species of cannabis that CBD can be extracted from but that isn’t psychoactive. Like medical marijuana, hemp CBD oil was only legal on a state-by-state basis but thanks to Congress, CBD got a big boost.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis plantae is a genus of flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family from which hops, cannabis and hackberries grow. The number of species within the genus is disputed, however, the three commonly known species is Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis.
Hemp and marijuana are from the cannabis family and often described with the word cannabis, while true this reference is vague. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the distinctions of hemp and marijuana which is why hemp has been banned, until now.
Hemp is cannabis and marijuana is cannabis yet hemp is not marijuana and marijuana is not hemp. While hemp and medical marijuana are part of the same cannabis family, each is a different species and not the same plant. A few differences between hemp and marijuana plants make it easy to distinguish one from the other i.e. plant height, width of leaves and the overall shape.
What is Hemp?
Hemp plants grow tall and the leaves are slim, similar to bamboo, hemp is a variety of the species Cannabis Sativa. Hemp naturally contains high levels of CBD and very low levels of THC. Which is why CBD oil is extracted from hemp, and not the marijuana plants.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana belongs to the species Cannabis Indica, these plants are bushy and short, and the leaves are wide. Marijuana contains high levels of THC and low levels of CBD. Which is why growers use this plant to produce medical marijuana.
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana plants are bred to produce large crystalline flowers or buds that is dark purple. Hemp also produces flowers, but they are much less substantial. Medical marijuana plants contain high levels of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and low levels of CBD (cannabidiol).
Over 100 cannabinoid compounds exist in cannabis plants and most cannabinoids are non-psychoactive, meaning you won’t get "high". CBD and THC are currently the most widely used and studied, but the most significant difference in the varietals is that THC is psychoactive, and CBD is non-psychoactive.