Hemp and Marijuana – what is the distinction?

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Classification and taxonomy of cannabis

Even although it is estimated that the cannabis plant has been accompanying humanity for millennia, confusion nonetheless exists now with regards to the classification of its species or varieties. In truth, the debate on how to classify this plant has been active for additional than two centuries: are the diverse varieties of cannabis standard of a single and extremely diverse species? Or is it a polytypic genre with numerous species? In this post we will investigate and clarify the most important variations amongst hemp and marijuana.

There are hundreds of cannabis varieties

As we saw in our post on the origins of cannabis cultivation, the plant was initially classified by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, and named Cannabis Sativa. Nevertheless, Linnaeus only knew European hemp, and it was not till 1785 that Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck introduced a second species located in the mountains of India and with extremely diverse morphological characteristics from the initially, which he named Cannabis Indica. Significantly later, in the twentieth century, precisely in 1924, D.E. Janichevsky presented a third species located in Russia, Cannabis Ruderalis.

Origins of cannabis cultivation

The debate continued till the 1970s, when William Emboden, Loran Anderson and Richard E. Schultes proposed the classification that is nonetheless the most well-known amongst botanists and growers now, dividing the genus Cannabis into 3 distinct species: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. This classification is primarily based on steady morphological variations observed in every of the 3 species, and is hence the most applied when speaking about the diverse varieties of every species.

Cannabis taxonomy:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Urticales
  • Loved ones: Cannabaceae
  • Genus: Cannabis
  • Species: Cannabis Sativa L., Cannabis Indica Lam., Cannabis Ruderalis Janisch

The origin of hemp and marijuana

One particular of the most important variations amongst hemp and what we colloquially contact marijuana is the THC or tetrahydrocannabinol content material of the latter. Certainly, though hemp varieties show a extremely low (or nonexistent) content material in this psychoactive compound, the cannabis plants we generally refer to as drug varieties do include considerable amounts of this cannabinoid. But how did these varieties come to have such diverse traits? In 1976, Ernest Compact and Arthur Cronquist proposed that it would have been mostly due to the human element.

THC molecule, principal psychoactive ingredient of cannabis

THC molecule, the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis

More than time, thanks to the choice and breeding carried out year just after year, two extremely diverse forms of cannabis would have been differentiated: a single wealthy in THC and applied for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes, and yet another with hardly any THC content material, destined for the production of meals and many components and objects such as fabrics, ropes or baskets. As cannabis expanded from Asia, and thanks to the choice of growers in the regions exactly where it took root, additional and additional diverse varieties appeared, every sharing qualities with their distant relatives, but in turn creating their personal exceptional traits.

So, the THC wealthy varieties would be what we now contact “marijuana” (and in a lot of circumstances “cannabis”), though these lacking this psychoactive compound and applied industrially to get raw components are generically named “hemp”. Inside every of these forms we can uncover hundreds of diverse varieties, from these supplied as THC-wealthy, feminised seeds to hemp seeds that can be bought by weight in any agricultural cooperative.

Variations amongst hemp and marijuana

Broadly speaking, we can point to variations in terms of morphology, chemotype and use to distinguish amongst hemp and marijuana. Marijuana (cannabis wealthy in THC) is commonly additional compact and branchy, has a a great deal richer content material of cannabinoids and terpenes and is commonly cultivated and applied for medicinal or recreational purposes. In contrast, hemp plants commonly develop a great deal taller (up to and more than five meters), have extremely small lateral branching and commonly a extremely low content material in cannabinoids and terpenes (some of them do have considerable amounts of CBD, CBG or other compounds of specific interest in the therapeutic field). Currently, hemp has dozens of applications in sector and for meals, from the production of seeds to the manufacture of bricks for building.

Male plants are not usually removed from hemp fields

Male plants are not commonly removed from hemp fields

Offered its qualities, particularly the height of the plants, it is practically not possible to develop hemp indoors, which means that most of the hemp developed worldwide is outdoors or in greenhouses. On the other hand, and considering that the cultivation of marijuana is illegal in a lot of locations, indoor cultivation is the system selected by a lot of growers of this variety of plant, and with very good explanation, cultivating indoors is a great deal safer each for legal motives and to stay away from the focus of plant thieves or “rippers”.

Qualities and makes use of of hemp

As we know, mankind has cultivated and applied hemp for millennia, and has obtained diverse components for an endless quantity of industrial or nutritional applications. Hemp is commonly cultivated intensively, at a extremely higher plant density, which is partly due to its low capacity to create lateral branches. The height varies based on the assortment and expanding circumstances, while it is not uncommon for the plants to attain a height amongst two and five or six meters. The inter-nodal distance is extremely substantial, particularly in these crops grown principally for fibre, for instance, rather than seeds.

Hemp grows tall, without side branches

Hemp grows tall, without the need of side branches

The stem is commonly thicker, additional woody, and also significantly less hollow than that of a lot of varieties wealthy in THC. They can present male or female flowers, while there is also a considerable quantity of monoecious specimens, in other words, hermaphrodites. Based on the final use, which can variety from the production of hemp seed oil, to fibre for cellulose, the producers will opt for a single assortment or the other according on the qualities of every a single. These are some of the a lot of makes use of of hemp:

  • Paper production
  • Components for weaving (clothing, ropes, candles, and so forth.)
  • Manufacture of biodegradable plastics
  • Recyclable and biodegradable building material
  • Synthetic components (aerospace and automotive sector)
  • Seed production
  • Seed oil
  • Biodiesel
  • Cosmetic sector (soaps, creams, and so forth.)

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, hemp represents an ecological and sustainable option that can drastically contribute to producing a improved future for our planet, particularly if practices such as the accountable use of pesticides and other toxic solutions are taken into account by growers.

We truly hope that is the case!

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Bibliography consulted for this post:

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