If you have a great deal of experience with marijuana and have been working in the business as a budtender, you may be aware of the distinct differences between the cannabis that people smoke for medicinal reasons and recreational purposes and industrial hemp that is used to make a variety of products including paper, clothing, fuel, body oils and even foods and beverages. If you’re not familiar with the differences between the two, read on to learn more.
While hemp and marijuana both come from the plant known as “Cannabis sativa,” they are different in many ways. The term “hemp” refers to the industrial and commercial use of the cannabis stalk and its seeds while the term “cannabis” refers to the medicinal, recreational or spiritual use that usually involves smoking the cannabis flowers.
When it comes to the active ingredient in marijuana that makes users of the plant feel “high,” industrial hemp contains only about 0.3% – 1.5% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinoids), while marijuana contains about 5% – 10% or more THC. People do not use hemp to get high, but they do use cannabis to get high, relieve pain and anxiety and fight several symptoms associated with a number of medical conditions.
Industrial hemp also grows differently than cannabis plants. Hemp is typically grown up, not out, because the goal is not to produce buds but to produce a long stalk, similar to bamboo. The stalk contains the fiber and hard, woody core material that can be used for the products named above. While marijuana plants (for smoking) are grown to an average of five feet in height, industrial hemp is grown to a height of 10-15 feet before harvest.
The two also differ in where they must be grown to yield a good crop. THC-producing marijuana requires warm and humid environments in order to produce the desired number and quality of THC-containing buds. Industrial hemp does not contain these buds and different parts of the plant are more needed, so it can be grown in a number of areas and climates. Industrial hemp grows well on fields that would provide good corn crops like the southwest, southeast, and northeast United States. Also, since industrial hemp can use both male plants and female plants, higher crop yields result.