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It’s time to end the stigma around the world’s most useful plant.

Due to almost a century of misinformation about Cannabis, the distinction between Cannabis and its two primary species — hemp and marijuana — has become unclear to the many and some even consider the three plants to be one and the same. Because of this, the three terms are often used interchangeably, which has created difficulties when understanding the usage and benefits of Hemp vs Marijuana and Cannabis in general.

Hemp marijuana cucumber and melon - Fyllde
Hemp is to marijuana what cucumber is to melon : two very different cousins of the same family, with different properties.

Hemp is to marijuana was cucumber is to melon – just two very different cousins from the same family. In fact, before the 20th century, the distinction between hemp and marijuana was quite clear. Hemp was widely used for purposes of food, clothing, and paper. During times of war, hemp was even considered an essential resource, as it was the source of the strongest ropes and sails.

BRIEF HISTORY OF HEMP AND MARIJUANA

Yet, all of that changed in the 1930s. Political winds shifted against cannabis and somehow hemp got grouped into the mix. Reviewing why this happened, we come to learn that confusion between the two plants was intentionally contrived by industry and political leaders at the time. Sadly, their corrupt motives led to an innocent plant’s slow demise and prohibition that still continues today.

The origin of this controversy can be traced back to 1930 in the United States, when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was founded.

Nobody can be sure why Harry Anslinger, the FBN commissioner, was fighting so obsessively against cannabis (nor why he included hemp, instead of just marijuana, in the bill). Psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) was relatively obscure in the public eye and hemp was still a domestic crop at the time. Considering the public sentiment at the time, we can assume that marijuana (and the larger cannabis family) was not even remotely a national or public concern. What we do know is that Anslinger was the nephew-in-law to Secretary of Treasure Andrew Mellon, a banker who was financing the growing petro-chemical dynasty of the Du Ponts. It was later to be found that Mellon had personally created Ansligner’s position.

Eventually, Anslinger prevailed in his crusade. His continued lobbying efforts led to the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937, which levied taxes on all cannabis including hemp.

Marijuana Tax act of 1937 passed by the Federal Bureau of Nacotics in the US
Marijuana Tax act of 1937 passed by the Federal Bureau of Nacotics in the US

WHY HEMP IS STILL CONFUSED WITH MARIJUANA TODAY

Even though, unlike marijuana, hemp is legal and widely cultivated today across Europe and the rest of the wold, the general public continued to perceive hemp as the same thing as marijuana – or just as some bastard child of psychoactive cannabis.

One of the main reasons is  probably that the demand of marijuana is exponentially bigger than hemp as of today. Marijuana organisations such as NORML are much bigger and better organised than that any of the hemp organisations. So as the movement for marijuana legalisation grew, the confusion between hemp / marijuana / Cannabis started growing as well.

 

HOW HEMP AND MARIJUANA ARE DIFFERENT

The distinction between hemp and marijuana can be made in multiple ways. At the end of the day, all these reasons show that hemp cannot be grown with or near marijuana, nor can it be used in similar ways.

Composition

  • The main difference between the two is in its chemical composition, specifically in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical responsible marijuana’s psychological effects.
  • An average batch of marijuana contains anywhere from 5–20% THC content. Hemp, on the other hand, has a max THC level of 0.2%, essentially making it impossible to feel any psychoactive effect or get a “high”. This threshold is heavily regulated in countries that allow the cultivation and production of hemp (including all European countries, US and Canada). Hemp also typically has high Cannabidiol rates (CBD) which makes it a very interesting ingredient for cosmetics and food supplements.

Cultivation Environment

Hemp and marijuana cultivations differences
Hemp is cultivated in large plots whereas marijuana must be cultivated indoor
  • The environment in which hemp and marijuana are grown is strikingly different. Hemp is grown closely together (as close as 10cm  apart) and are typically grown in large plots. It can also grow in variety of climates and its growth cycle is 108-120 days.
  • Unlike hemp, marijuana requires a carefully controlled, warm, and humid atmosphere for proper growth. Its growth cycle only 60-90 days. Medical cannabis also cannot be grown too close to each other. They are typically grown 15cm apart.
  • If, somehow, marijuana grows among (or close to) a hemp field, the hemp’s pollen would immediately ruin the marijuana crop, diluting marijuana’s psycho-activity.

Applications & Benefits

In its application, hemp and marijuana serve completely different purposes.

  • Marijuana, as it is widely known, is used for medicinal or recreational purposes where legal (Canada, most US states, and several European countries)
  • Hemp is used in variety of other applications that marijuana couldn’t possibly be used in. These include healthy food, beauty skin products, clothing, paper, and other everyday products. Overall, hemp is known to have over 25,000 possible applications. Nowadays there is also a lot of interest into the properties of CBD extracted from hemp, as it may be a natural alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs, anxiolytic drugs and pain killer, with almost no side effects nor any risk of addiction.

 

HEMP IS NOT MARIJUANA: IT’S TIME TO DISTINGUISH THE TWO

We can’t change the past, but we can definitely change the future. We can help realise all of hemp’s full potential in the modern world by rebranding it for the useful plant that it is.

Hemp’s reputation has been stained and the negative stigma that surrounds “cannabis” will take many years (or even generations) to disappear. At Fyllde we hold nothing against marijuana. However, by distancing hemp from marijuana, we will be able to revive hemp in the public eye for all its useful everyday or industrial applications.

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