Cannabis and Hemp
The cannabis plant is best known for the Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica species. Once the flowering parts of the crop is dried and toned, it becomes one of the most psychoactive compounds known to mankind. This compound is also a drug that has been utilized for both medical and recreational purposes.
Cannabis has since been used to generally refer to the psychoactive derivatives of Indica and Sativa alongside other slangs such as weed, pot, and marijuana.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana unlike the popular opinion is not a specific strain from the cannabis family and shouldnt be seen as such. The existing species Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis all have various strains but none of this is named Marijuana.
Marijuana like the words weed and pot are merely slang words used to refer to the cannabis plant. This means like Cannabis, Marijuana also refers to the dried leaves and flowers of the Sativa and Indica plants, it refers to the compound in whatever form it is used.
The term is believed to have originated from the Mexican-Spanish word Marihuana, and that it must have been adapted by ither languages before the term Marijuana came into existence. When it comes to medicine, medical practitioners use the term Medical Cannabis and Medical Marijuana interchangeably, especially in regions were both terms are considered legal.
What then is Hemp?
It has been scientifically proven that Hemp had been part of human lives for thousands of years, historical research has shown that a lot of civilizations have used it as food, fuel, fabric and even medicine. There is evidence that the plant had been used as far back as 9000 years ago in ancient cities for textile and also food. Just what is Hemp…?
Hemp unlike Marijuana is an actual strain of the Sativa plant, it has also been established that it possesses different chemical properties from all other strains of cannabis. What makes Hemp so different is that it produces a relatively smaller amount of one of the major psychoactive chemicals present in all Cannabis strains, and this chemical is THC.
Research has shown that in the USA, the industrial hemp contains 0.3% lesser THC by dry weight when compared to other major strains. This figure is even lower than the standard 0.35% stated in places like Australia. This means that while Hemp might also contain various CBDs including THC, there is absolutely no amount taken that can provide the desired psychoactive effect.
What then is the difference between them?
Cannabis is basically the main plant, with various species Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. These species are further divided into strains based on their chemical properties and make up. A fun fact is that the known number of strains continue to increase as farmers and cultivators are beginning to make hybrids to duplicate desirable traits and eliminate bad traits. Studying Hybrids is an entire field on its own.
Since Cannabis is basically all the major species, the term is used to refer to most forms in which the drug is administered. Marijuana is nothing but a slang used interchangeably with Cannabis on the same occasions as words like weed and pot.
Hemp is an actual strain with unique chemical properties, lacking enough THC to induce a psychoactive effect. It could be erroneously used synonymously with other strains that do not also produce the effects due to one reason or another, but Hemp is unique.
What are the chemicals in Cannabis?
Since we have established the fact that the difference between strains is their chemical properties, I believe we should take a quick look at some of the major chemicals present in the plants. (We already have an entire article about this.)
According to research, it has been established that there are over 400 chemical compounds present in Cannabis. However, a lot of this compounds are yet to be fully identified and analysed. The three compounds that are widely known are found to be derivatives of Cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
Flavonoids are referred to as a class of polyphenolic metabolites commonly found in plants, and this means it is commonly consumed as part of the human diet. They are known to have medical relevance as they protect the cells from oxidative damage. They can also aid against the development of Cancer, Cardiovascular diseases and even cognitive diseases like dementia.
Terpenes on the other hand are aromatic compounds also found in many plants, cannabis plants contain a large concentration of terpenes and they are often responsible for its aroma and flavour. They give each strain of cannabis a characteristic smell and taste.
Finally, Cannabinoids. They are any chemical substance that can bind to the cannabinoid receptors of the body and brain. Regardless of structure or origin, compounds that are capable of similar effects are referred to as Cannabinoids.