The differences between hemp and cannabis – at least in the Government’s eyes – are majorly concerned with their cannabinoid profiles, but that can’t be all that separates these two plants? The effects of THC or CBD on human and animal health will continue to be the focal point of cannabis/hemp development, but hemp has a lot more applications as a commercial/industrial commodity. The hemp plant is known for having very strong, lightweight and versatile fibers which is why it has a very long history as a textile. Ancient cultures have been documented as using hemp fiber to make ropes, clothing and even tools or weapons as early as 8000 BCE! That’s one epic testimonial for why hemp should never have been deemed illegal. Hemp is also an excellent source for nutrition and medicine. Hemp seeds are high in protein and are a common add-in to oatmeal or smoothies today, and the seed oil is very rich in omegas 3-6-9. We’ve already covered some of its medical benefits with regards to hemp’s high CBD content, but it should be repeated how safe, effective and multifaceted hemp CBD can be.
On top of its popularity as a textile or health supplement (no pun intended), hemp is also used in something called ‘hempcrete’. Like its name suggests, hempcrete is like concrete but made with a bio-composite fibrous core of hemp mixed with a lime-based binding agent. So, hemp can literally be consumed as medicine or food, you can wear it as clothing, AND you can build a structure with it?! Yes, there’s a lot of truth to the phrase that hemp is a “miracle plant”. Can marijuana be this versatile? you might be wondering. Although these plants are very similar in their biology, and there’s not much evidence against cannabis’ plant materials being suitable for commercial byproducts, the differences in cultivation environments makes marijuana less ideal than hemp. Cannabis requires a lot more strict growing conditions, like certain light, temperature and climate conditions including humidity, oxygen and carbon dioxide in order to thrive. Hemp also has a much shorter crop cycle, and its turnaround time can be quicker in addition to not being so restrictive of where it is grown.
For these reasons, hemp seems to be overtaking cannabis on the world stage. Many policymakers and consumers alike are beginning to ask themselves: If hemp (CBD) has many of the health benefits of cannabis (THC), with none of the psychoactive risks but a whole host of other useful applications, then why do we bother with marijuana at all? This is a valid point to make, but just like anything worth doing in life, having choices and experiencing the spice of variety can lead to greater benefits than just focusing on one component. Next, it’s time to put on a lab coat and look at these plants under the microscope so that we can appreciate what each cannabaceae relative is bringing to the table.