What’s the Difference Between Cannabis and Hemp?

Laws surrounding cannabis are almost constantly changing in the United States, and public attitudes toward cannabis have shifted dramatically in the last few decades. Today, more Americans support marijuana law reform than oppose it, but lingering stigmas and misinformation continue to influence discussions surrounding cannabis. As medical marijuana continues to gain support, several states are moving toward decriminalization of recreational cannabis.


If you’re interested in medical cannabis, separate fact from myth with a bit of research. One crucial bit of information is the difference between cannabis and hemp. Cannabis and hemp differ in their concentration of THC concentration but are basically the same plant.


Clarifying Cannabis Terminology


Society has grown more accepting of alternative treatments like medical cannabis, but misinformation, unfortunately, deters many people who would otherwise benefit from medical cannabis to avoid fully investigating their treatment options. The plant in question is cannabis sativa, and two main types of this plant exist:


  • Industrial hemp serves many applications, but hemp growers in the US mainly grow hemp to produce hemp oil, which has a high concentration of cannabidiol (CBD).
  • Marijuana is another name for cannabis. It contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the psychoactive effects or “high” commonly associated with cannabis consumption. While it also contains CBD, marijuana typically has lower CBD concentration than industrial hemp.


These two plants are essentially the same species and share the same binomial nomenclature: cannabis sativa. The difference between them lies in their chemical composition. If a cannabis sativa plant is more CBD-heavy, it is hemp. If the plant is more THC-dominant, it is marijuana. THC only manifests in female cannabis sativa plants, but many female cannabis sativa plants qualify as “hemp” plants, too. The 2014 Farm Bill defined cannabis sativa plants as hemp if they have a THC concentration no greater than .3%.


Industrial hemp contains trace amounts of THC, but not enough to cause significant psychoactive effects, even with large doses. By comparison, marijuana contains high levels of THC and middling amounts of CBD. However, hybrid strains exist with more balanced levels of THC and CBD. Some cannabis users enjoy hybrid strain products because they essentially provide the best of both worlds.


What Exactly Does “Cannabis” Mean?


“Cannabis” is a blanket term that might apply to industrial hemp or marijuana. Many people use the terms cannabis, marijuana, and hemp interchangeably, but this contributes to confusion surrounding these substances and their uses. “Marijuana” and “hemp” fall under the “cannabis” classification, but they serve very different purposes and have very different biological properties. As jurisdictions across the country continue to reevaluate the medical properties of cannabis, correcting misinformation and misconceptions is paramount when it comes to changing the conversation surrounding the benefits of medical cannabis.


Differences Between CBD and THC


To understand what some may mean when they are using the term hemp versus cannabis, consider the chemical composition of the plant. Ultimately, the main difference between CBD and THC is that THC may cause you to feel high, while CBD probably won’t. If you or a loved one are interested in the medical benefits of cannabis, the first step is to determine which symptoms are most likely to respond to cannabis treatment. Symptoms typically inform whether an individual would benefit more from CBD, THC, or hybrid products.


THC causes euphoria and intense feelings of relaxation. This substance can be ideal for people who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. THC can also relax the muscles, alleviate joint pain, and improve mood. Research from the American Academy of Neurology suggests THC could effectively treat some symptoms of neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, but the long-term efficacy of such treatments remains unknown without further testing.


Some individuals may not want any euphoric effects or find them disruptive to their daily routines. CBD does not have psychoactive properties, but it can reduce inflammation, elevate mood, and reduce blood pressure by triggering dilation of the blood vessels. Many people prefer CBD products because their lifestyles are not conducive to the euphoria caused by THC-rich cannabis products. CBD is also more effective at treating some symptoms than THC.


While THC’s relaxing properties can ease some mental health disorder symptoms, CBD is more effective at treating physical ailments. CBD can offer pain relief and alleviate muscle tension without causing distracting euphoria that may interfere with work or other daily activities.


Vaping Cannabis or Hemp


As the conversation surrounding cannabis continues to change in the US, many people are looking for new ways to enjoy the benefits of THC and/or CBD beyond the traditional methods of smoking dried cannabis flowers or consuming edible products infused with cannabis. One of the most popular delivery methods to gain traction in recent years is vaping, or the use of a vaporizer to nebulize cannabis oils. Whether you are looking for the higher concentration of THC from cannabis or less from hemp, vaping may be the best way to consume these products.


A vaporizer uses electricity to heat a heating element, usually one made of nichrome, titanium, nickel, or stainless steel. The oil or liquid in the device passes through a wicking material into the coil. As the electric current heats the coil, it vaporizes the hemp oil, producing a vapor that is much less harmful than smoke. While a person smoking cannabis is also inhaling harmful combusted plant matter from the dried leaves, someone who opts for vaping minimizes the discomfort typically associated with smoking and can enjoy CBD and THC products in a discreet, portable, and convenient delivery device.


It is also possible to use a vaporizer for dried cannabis flowers. These devices typically require more maintenance; cannabis flowers leave behind a sticky resin that can clog vape pens, even those designed for dried flower. By comparison, vaporizer devices that use oils and liquids produce minimal residue. When a coil stops functioning or collects too much residue, the user simply replaces it and refills the device to continue vaping. Most vape pens and vaporizer devices feature a refillable tank or pod system that allows users to easily refill their devices whenever necessary. Built-in lithium ion batteries allow for long battery life and convenient charging.


Vaping is also beneficial to others as vapor does not carry secondhand particles like you would find in smoke. While many medical marijuana users still enjoy smoking cannabis, it is necessary to be mindful of others and to refrain from smoking marijuana in public, around children, or around pets. Cannabis smoke can also aggravate respiratory conditions in others, prompting many people to switch from smoking to vaping for a safer and less disruptive delivery method.


What to Expect from Vaping Cannabis


Depending on your medical needs and personal preferences, you may prefer a THC-rich dried flower or a CBD-heavy hemp oil for your vaporizer. If you consume any type of THC product through a vaporizer, most users report effects very similar to smoking marijuana. The onset of euphoria is typically quick but fades within an hour or so while the lingering physical sensations remain for several more hours. Some people only require one or two puffs each day to experience relief from their symptoms.


Vaping CBD products like hemp oils are similar but without the psychoactive effects. Users generally start feeling the effects of CBD within a few minutes of vaping, and those effects may last for several hours for some users.


Experience the Vessel Brand Difference


With a bit of education, the American public has grown more accepting of medical cannabis and hemp and more open to the idea of trying alternative treatments. Individuals who might benefit from medical cannabis should do a bit of research to understand their treatment options and the value of a high-quality vaping device. Vessel Brand strives to produce the highest-quality vape pens available, offering users convenient and discreet delivery devices for their CBD and THC-based medications.

1 Response

Fred W Cowles

Fred W Cowles

October 12, 2019

Now if people making the products would strive to make as “clean” a product as possible we could take the fear of vaping away.

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