Many have long misunderstood the significant differences between marijuana and hemp. Today, these differences are beginning to become more well known especially as the federal government helps define the two types of cannabis separately. Despite this progress, confusion between hemp and marijuana is still widespread.
First, it is important to understand that the two plants share a commonality in that they are both a species of plant called Cannabis Sativa L. This species of plant is well known for its 7 leaf pattern that is heavily associated with recreational marijuana use. Both hemp and marijuana feature this leaf pattern:
Looking beyond the species, the common traits between the two varieties begin to dwindle. Marijuana and hemp are different in their appearance, growing methods, chemical makeup, and potential uses. Each of these aspects contributes to the significant overall differences between the two plant varieties:
Hemp is a fibrous plant thanks to the large stalk which can result in plants up to 20 feet tall. The 7-leaf pattern often shows skinnier leaves concentrated at the top of the stalks.
Hemp, marijuana, and cannabis have long been confused by lawmakers and the public. In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classified all forms of Cannabis Sativa L as Marijuana and thus illegal. This generalized grouping caused all varieties of hemp and marijuana to become a schedule 1 controlled substances - regardless of their use or psychoactivity.
Thanks to the progress resulting from the 2014 and ultimately the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has finally been lifted from the purview of the CSA. The result of this bill was that hemp is finally defined separately from marijuana. If cannabis contains 0.3% THC or less by dry weight, it is now considered hemp, not marijuana. Hemp is now federally recognized as a legal substance in the eyes of the federal government, lifting hemp out of schedule 1 status once and for all.
Despite this clear classification state, tribal, and regulatory bodies are still working on local regulation across the hemp industry. Here at Big Sky Botanicals, we source our product line exclusively from hemp grown within these federal regulations. We work hard to maintain compliance in an ever-changing landscape.
Originally published: July 24, 2018 | Last Updated: March 12, 2019
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