If you’re confused about the difference between hemp, marijuana, and cannabis, don’t worry. We’re here to clear that up. It can definitely get a little confusing when so many words are being thrown around for plants that are very similar. So, if you’ve caught yourself asking the question: “What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?,” you’re in the right place!
What is Cannabis?
The official definition of cannabis, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a tall Asian herb (Cannabis sativa of the family Cannabaceae, the hemp family) that has a tough fiber and is often separated into a tall loosely branched species (C. sativa) and a low-growing densely branched species (C. indica) - used especially for cultivated varieties having high levels of THC.” In simpler terms, cannabis is a plant with two subspecies or varieties, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, each with different sized leaves and stalks.
According to an article published in Medium by Aaron Cadena, marijuana, another common term for cannabis, “is a term used to classify varieties of Cannabis that contain more than 0.3% THC (by dry weight) and can induce psychotropic or euphoric effects on the user.” The term “marijuana” itself comes from a place of controversy that is rooted in history.
The History of Marijuana
The word “marijuana” is actually made up, and was not used in the United States until 1910, according to Leafly. Cannabis was the term used prior to this time, and was used in many remedies and medicines and was particularly popular among American elites, as they could afford to import the product to the U.S. According to Leafly, between 1910 and 1920, more than 890,000 Mexican immigrants came to the United States seeking refuge from the Mexican Civil War happening at the time. At the time, smoking cannabis was not a popular method of consumption in the U.S., but became popularized after these immigrants arrived as they brought the habit with them. When the Great Depression hit the United States, Americans were looking for someone to blame, and unfortunately the people they blamed were the Mexican immigrants and the Black people who were consuming it at the time.
According to Leafly, Harry Anslinger, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, launched a campaign against cannabis and in a statement in front of Congress he said, “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijauna usage.”
Obviously we know that this isn’t true, although some of the same stigmas still exist today. People still refer to cannabis as “the devil’s lettuce” and other similar terms, which frames the plant in a very negative light. As mentioned above, hemp “is a term used to classify varieties of Cannabis that contain 0.3% or less THC content (by dry weight)” (Medium, 2020). So, when people are using the term “cannabis,” they are usually referring to the kind that contains more than 0.3% THC or the one that gives you the feeling of being high, which can be either Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. When the term “hemp” is used, it is referring to the Cannabis sativa species that doesn’t give you the sensation of feeling high.
What is Hemp?
The official definition of hemp, also according to Merriam-Webster, is “a tall widely cultivated Asian herb (Cannabis sativa of the family Cannabacae, the hemp family) that is cultivated for its tough bast fiber and edible seeds and oil that is often separated into a tall loosely branched species (C. sativa) and a low-growing densely branched species (C. indica). Most of the time when you hear something being referred to as “hemp,” it is usually referring to the Cannabis sativa species with 0.3% or less THC content.
Growing hemp became legal in the United States in 2018 due to the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 that was put forward by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. With this bill now in place, it removed low-THC cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, as well as hemp farmers now having access to water and federal agricultural grants. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 also gave hemp farmers access to the national banking system, as hemp is now a federally recognized crop.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a widely known cannabinoid present in both cannabis and hemp, and is the star ingredient in our products. CBD is known for its potential pain-relieving properties as well as potentially containing multiple benefits for the hair and skin. CBD, unlike the other popular cannabinoid THC, does not give you the sensation of being high, which increases its popularity among the masses. Although CBD can be derived from hemp or cannabis, it is more commonly derived from hemp, as it usually contains higher levels of the cannabinoid compared to a plant that contains higher amounts of THC. Ultimately the difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp is more widely used to make CBD products as well as other products such as textiles and paper, and marijuana, although technically a made-up word, usually refers to the type of cannabis that gives you the feeling of being high.
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Eossi Beauty embraces the power of clean and pure botanicals. Derived from nature, our uniquely effective beauty products are created by two women driven by one purpose: to make life brighter—because we all deserve to feel as good as we look, naturally. Our affordable products are carefully formulated with sustainably sourced and thoroughly vetted ingredients, such as plant-based essential oils and broad-spectrum hemp cannabinoid oil that’s independently lab tested for quality and purity. Every day, our founders Shannon and Rochonne are living the Eossi Beauty ethos: create your own dynamic energy, cultivate love, and let your beauty shine.