What is Cannabis?
When it comes to cannabis, things can get confusing quickly. Many people are unaware of the differences between marijuana and hemp and tend to think of them both as a mind-altering drug rather than a plant. Cannabis is a flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family. The term cannabis refers to the plants of the species Cannabis Sativa L. Within the species there are three types of cannabis plants:
The most common species is the Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Each of these species has unique characteristics and effects. Sativa is more commonly used recreationally as it is known to bring feelings of euphoria and a “head high”. While indica is commonly used for medicinal purposes as it brings feelings of relaxation and a “body high”.
The cannabis plants contain chemicals called cannabinoids which are compounds that interact with specific receptors within different parts of the central nervous system. These cannabinoids act as neurotransmitters that regulate how cells communicate and send nerve impulses to the brain to trigger different effects on the body. There is over 110 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, the two most prominent being CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD is often thought to be used for medicinal purposes, whereas THC is thought to be used for recreational purposes.
There are several ways to consume cannabis. Traditionally, cannabis has been consumed through smoking the buds or extracting the THC and turning it into an oil. More recently, there have been many other popularized methods of consumption including infusing it in food, also known as edibles, or using an electronic vaporizer pen. You can even extract the cannabinoids into an oil or salve.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a slang term generally referring to a mixture of dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds derived from the cannabis Sativa plant that contain psychoactive and euphoric effects on the mind when ingested into the body. The main psychoactive chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrcannabinol (THC) and it is found in much higher quantities in marijuana than hemp. While CBD can be found in marijuana, typically, marijuana consists of a much higher amount of THC than CBD, usually containing about 15-25% THC. The use of higher THC in cannabis acts as a depressant drug, slowing down your central nervous systems activity and delaying communication sent from the brain to the body, producing that "high" feeling.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a strain of the cannabis Sativa plant first cultivated for fiber in China as early as 2800 BCE. While it is the same species as marijuana, it has different chemical properties and psychoactive components. Hemp contains a very low level of delta-9-tetrahydrcannabinol (THC) meaning it has no psychoactive affects and cannot get you high. In the USA, the 2018 Farm Bill established the specific definition of hemp versus cannabis by limiting the THC content of hemp to no more than 0.3%. Meaning hemp products cannot legally contain the amount of THC needed to produce the "high" typically associated with marijuana.
There are five parts of the plant (the inner fibers, the outer fibers, stalk, buds and the seeds. Today hemp is commonly used to produce resources such as clothing, food, building materials, rope, fuel, and medicine. Many people even consider Hemp seeds a superfood due to their rich nutritional profile. They are rich in protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids and yield some amazing benefits.
Hemp can also be turned into an oil by pressing hemp seeds and may not contain CBD. Hempseed oil is thought to be more of a nutritional supplement like fish oil due to its source of essential fatty acids. Some studies have even found hempseed oil to improve certain skin conditions like acne or eczema.
What is CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. Cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body to regulate a variety of functions, such as inflammation, pain perception, mood, and memory. They can also be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Studies suggest CBD may be effective in treating pain, anxiety and even epilepsy. Put simply, CBD restores homeostasis (the body’s natural balance). It works in the endocannabinoid system by activating two of its core receptors (known as CB1 and CB2), which regulate mood, temperature, cognitive function, and muscle repair. CBD can be extracted by the leaves, flowers and stalk of both marijuana and hemp. However, as marijuana is illegal in most places, much of the CBD you’ll find on the market is made from hemp.
What is THC?
THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant that has psychoactive, euphoric, and calming effects. THC can be found in both marijuana and hemp but is much more potent in marijuana. Like CBD, THC binds to CB1 receptors particularly in the brain that control pain, mood, emotion, and memory resulting in a mind altering “high”. Studies have found THC to be effective when associated with pain relief, but it is most commonly used to make concentrates and edibles for recreational purposes.