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Hemp and Marijuana

Updated on January 10, 2015

Clear differences exist between hemp and marijuana though they may look similar to the uniniated.

The basic shape of a single leaf is as it appears here.
The basic shape of a single leaf is as it appears here.
Hemp is tall, narrow and fibrous which makes it idea for natural tough fiber, weed control and wind breaking. The seeds are a good source of protein and oil. Hemp often grows to three to four meters in height.
Hemp is tall, narrow and fibrous which makes it idea for natural tough fiber, weed control and wind breaking. The seeds are a good source of protein and oil. Hemp often grows to three to four meters in height.
Marijuana on the other hand, grows closer to the ground and is more spread out. The indica kind has the shape in profile to a Christmas tree. The Sativa kind tends to spread out near the top. All kinds of both plants produce copious numbers of seeds.
Marijuana on the other hand, grows closer to the ground and is more spread out. The indica kind has the shape in profile to a Christmas tree. The Sativa kind tends to spread out near the top. All kinds of both plants produce copious numbers of seeds.
This is an example of a dense seed cluster or "bud" as it is known on the street. Most of the THC is concentrated here and smokers prize this part of the plant.
This is an example of a dense seed cluster or "bud" as it is known on the street. Most of the THC is concentrated here and smokers prize this part of the plant.
This is a "domestic" version of a marijuana plant that sometimes is grown hydroponically.
This is a "domestic" version of a marijuana plant that sometimes is grown hydroponically.

The difference between hemp and marijuana

Many people make the mistake of thinking that hemp and marijuana are one and the same. Although they belong to the same genus, Cannabis, they are different as the drug form covers strains like sativa, indica and the like, containing the narcotic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas hemp does not. Hemp has many uses such as in paper, bio-degradable plastics, textiles and health food. In the days of square rigged sailing ships, hemp was used in all the rigging and ropes so necessary to hold the masts upright and to suspend and orient the sails. Therefore, hemp was an important resource. Since the advent of motor ships and plastics, this important use fell to the wayside and hemp lost most of its use value. Thus today, it is used in the areas mentioned, less rigging for ships. Further, there is competition in paper and textiles from other fibers and artificial sources. Aside from health food, hemp has fallen into disfavor. Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica on the other hand are prized for their drug characteristics that are useful, though banned and controlled in the main by many governments. These drugs known popularly and collectively as marijuana are good for pain control, nausea elimination, and appetite stimulation and anti-psychotic. It has been used for religious and spiritual reasons as well. It is known that it negatively impacts short term memory and psychomotor functions.

Physically the two differ in overall appearance, though the leaf structure is similar. Hemp tends to grow tall and thin with larger leaves and marijuana tends to spread out more and have denser foliage. Of the marijuana variety, cannabis sativa tends to grow taller and spread out and is sometimes used as hemp fiber because of the long and tough strands. Cannabis Indica tends to be much shorter, wider and dense and conical in overall appearance. There are of course many other varieties of marijuana cannabis. Most people are not aware of all the varieties, except for those who are affectionados of marijuana.

The leaf structure is in all Cannabis plants is typically in the form of single leaves growing from the main upright stem, oppositely arranged and palmate in structure with three or more "fingers" growing from the leaf stem and containing up to nine or eleven "fingers" in extreme cases. The individual leaf "fingers" are saw like in outline on both sides, flat and elongated with a strong central vein. The leaves range in size from a centimeter to several centimeters across from "finger" tip to tip at the widest point. Marijuana typically grows in two sexes and is not hermaphroditic like most plants. It is air pollinated, eliminating the need for insects. Pollen is disseminated by wind and the male plants are prolific producers of pollen. Like the female, the pollen generating flowers grow on special stems at leaf junctures near the top and in clusters at the top of the plants. This is where the wind can catch and carry the pollen the best. The female often carries more of the THC content than the male and is therefore prized more. The THC is concentrated especially in the dense seed buds that cluster near the top of the female plant and near where leaves join the stem near the top. The seed pods are closely packed and are sticky to the touch. The stickiness helps to capture the wind lofted pollen. By weight, seed production can account for about 40 percent of the entire mass of the female plant. The seed buds are prized most by marijuana affectionados due to the THC content and of course, seeds that represent the next generation of growth. From dwarf varieties to Cannabis Sativa, the height is from a meter to three meters tall. Hemp on the other hand, tends to grow slender and reaching several meters tall in optimal growing conditions. The overall shape is a slender conic structure. Leaves on hemp also tend to be larger than on the marijuana varieties of cannabis.

Industrial hemp is grown in Canada, France and China. It was prized for rope making and this is making a comeback due primarily to the green think that is turning against plastics that are not bio-degradable. Hemp has very little or no THC content, so it is not sought by those seeking a marijuana high or for medicinal use. Smoking a rope like the Marx brothers j=in one of their movies will not make a person “high”. The fibers, which grow on the outside of the stem, called bast are what are prized for rope making on account of their toughness, length and flexibility. Individual fibers can be up to 4.6 meters long, which makes them ideal for rope manufacture and weaving of strong cloth. Previous to the industrial revolution, it was prized because large amounts of fiber could be grown quickly within a single growing season and typically harvested less than 90 days of planting. This fact was crucial in times of naval wars where a lot of rope was called for in ship building. Used in hemp clothing, the fibers tend to last several times longer than their cotton counterparts. In China and Europe, hemp fibers are grown and used to reinforce cement structures for low rise buildings. This releases iron that would be used in rebar, for other essential uses.

Hemp is sometimes used for weed control as it can be densely planted and the foliage cover prevents undergrowth. It has a natural herbicide that kills weeds nearby and used to be prized for that by farmers who grew it around boarders of crop fields. It also served as an effective wind break. Today, with our interest in bio-fuels, the oil from hemp seeds can be processed into bio-diesel and bio-fuels for cars. The high seed yield and dense growth of the plants make it ideal for such fuel production. It yields more energy by weight on the same soil than corn, sugar or flax. The only drawback is that hemp is also good for human nutrition.

The seeds of hemp are an excellent source of proteins and essential nutrients. Hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids, many vitamins, some trace minerals and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life, which is why they are prized for making health food snacks, hemp milk products, seeds for salad, oil, flour, nut butters and more, often combined with soy. Among food plants, they are rated as being one of the most nutritious. The seeds of marijuana varieties on the other hand are hoarded for the single use of producing the next generation. The seeds are mostly controlled by the underground economy in the industrial world due to the illegality of marijuana in most regions.

Marijuana is a Spanish word that we use to identify all the strains that have drug qualities and uses for medicinal needs, spiritual practice and for recreational purposes. The marijuana has over the extent of its use come to be known by names such as Acapulco Gold, BC Bud, Panama Red, Red hair, Kush, Purple Haze, Quebec Gold and a host of others. Many names identify the region where the strains are grown and these are often produced in contravention to the law as marijuana is a controlled substance. As an underground economy, it is one of the biggest in the industrial world. The sticky and pungent fragrant substance found primarily in the female buds, is cultivated and concentrated to make hash-hish, an Arabic world where the process was first developed. In the Arabic world, the use of hash-hish is entirely legal and is an open recreational activity, smoked in coffee shops, restaurants and other public places typically in hookahs, whereas alcohol is prohibited by religious edict. In the west, it is the exact opposite in that alcohol is freely available and a focus of social life, whereas the mere possession of a "joint" of marijuana is cause to land a person in jail for life under new laws. In some regions of the world, it can net a death sentence. However, the law differs from region to region, creating a lot of confusion. On the street, marijuana is also known as ganja, weed, toke, tea, mary-jane, lid, it's regional nick-names and a host of other names.

Marijuana can be processed into a lot of products for usual recreational use, secondarily for medicinal use with special permission and least for spiritual reasons in the hedonist western lifestyle. As the marijuana lifestyle is mostly secret, crops are grown largely out of public view, often in hydroponic gardens with halogen lighting and sophisticated feeding. Typically, electrical power is taken from main power lines in a bid to lower power consumption profiles. A large power consumption profile atypical of a normal household is cause enough in some regions to call for a police visit. Alternately, they are grown in public parks in the wild and are often protected by threat of death to anyone who wanders into such grow-ops. As marijuana is typically under prohibition, it is managed by the criminal underground and can fetch a kings ransom. Prices for the substance are high with the risk of arrest and imprisonment.

Cannabis in all its forms has been bred to both eliminate the THC in the fiber, hemp oil and seed production, or to increase the level and potency of THC for uses already mentioned. Originally, the varieties were closer together in contents of psychoactive substances, but each strain has been enhanced for specific purposes. In the contemporary period, some of the THC strains are potent enough to be classified as hallucinogenic, ranking them with Peyote, Mescalin, Amanita Muscara or Pantera, Psilocybin and other such psychoactive plants.


Hemp and marijuana in health

Nutiva Organic, Cold-Processed Hemp Protein from non-GMO, Sustainably Farmed Canadian Hempseed, Hi-Fiber, 3-Pound Bag
Nutiva Organic, Cold-Processed Hemp Protein from non-GMO, Sustainably Farmed Canadian Hempseed, Hi-Fiber, 3-Pound Bag

As a nutritious supplement, few things can beat hemp seed. This is not marijuana seed, but hemp, the kind that is used traditionally for making rope and tough fabric. As hemp has deep roots, it tends to draw nutrition from deep in the earth and deposit it in the seeds.

 

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    • syzygyastro profile imageAUTHOR

      William J. Prest 

      6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      They did once, but hemp got a lot of enemies, specifically, big oil, big pharma, big lumber and agri-biz.

    • MaryD profile image

      MaryD 

      6 years ago

      Very useful interesting information. I would hope that the powers that be would realize the benefits of hemp and legalize its growth as an agricultural crop in all states.

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