What’s the Difference Between Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana?

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What Is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family. There are three main species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. These are the proper scientific terms that are used to classify all types of cannabis.

Hemp and marijuana are classifications of cannabis. Hemp and marijuana aren’t species or strains of cannabis. They’re really just general classifications or descriptions of cannabis that have been adopted by society and culture and now industry too.

What Is the Definition of Hemp?

In general, hemp is used to describe cannabis that contains 0.3 percent THC content or less by dry weight. Hemp is described as non-intoxicating and traditionally used for industrial purposes. In Europe, classification of hemp is defined as 0.2 percent THC content or less. In the USA, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 removed hemp from Schedule I Controlled Substances and made it a normal commodity. This was incorporated into the 2018 Farm Bill/Agricultural Improvement Act, which became law in December 2018. Hemp has been used for thousands of years (5,000 to 10,000, in fact), and it might have been the first crop ever cultivated by humans because it’s so useful in making various resources such as rope, clothing, paper, buildings and even cars.

What Is the Definition of Marijuana?

In general, marijuana is used to describe cannabis that contains higher levels of THC and more than 0.3 percent in North America (and more than 0.2 percent in the European Union). Although the term marijuana is widely used around the world, it misrepresents cannabis. Some people even refuse to use the term marijuana because of historical links to racism and anti-cannabis propaganda in the early 1900s (from about 1910 to 1940) in the United States.

Limitations of the Definitions of Hemp & Marijuana

The defining factor between hemp and marijuana is based on THC content, but solely basing the categorization on a single characteristic gives a really skewed view of cannabis and takes away from understanding the full diversity of the plant. Classifying cannabis as hemp and marijuana is like classifying citrus fruits as sweet or sour. Just as we classify citrus fruits by their species (orange, grapefruit, lemon, etc.), we should classify cannabis by its species as well.

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