Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Difference Between Marijuana, Hemp And Cannabis

At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you decide to call your weed. But when it comes to its legal use, most lawmakers prefer this term.

Now that marijuana is earning legal status across the U.S., more people are getting involved, whether recreationally, medically or professionally. As more people discover its value, the more its reputation is boosted. But that doesn’t mean we are any better at knowing what to call it.

As we grow more comfortable speaking about marijuana, it’s important for us to understand the difference that exists between the vocabulary associated with it, specifically cannabis, marijuana and hemp. On the surface, they appear to be the same thing, but there are some differences that matter, especially when speaking about the plant within a legal context.

“Cannabis” is the botanical term for marijuana. It doesn’t have any legal significance. It simply refers to the cannabis plant, the one that contains all of the cannabinoids, including CBD, CBN and THC. More specifically, the word refers to the genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. It’s also a term that has been under increasing use, especially since it focuses on the medicinal benefits of the plant.

RELATED: Is Marijuana A Drug Or Something Else?

“Marijuana” is the term that’s been used in legal contexts, and it’s also the one that’s associated with the negative connotations and perceptions that the drug has been subjected to throughout history. It’s the term that appears in the Controlled Substances Act and refers to the cannabis plant that possesses more than 0.3% of THC. This kind of plant is the one that remains illegal on a federal level.

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Photo by Iryna Veklich/Getty Images

“Hemp” is the easiest term to understand for its simplicity. It refers to the part of the cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% of THC and that is legal on a federal level. Hemp is non-intoxicating and the use of it leads to products that don’t get people high. So, while hemp is not illegal, marijuana can be depending on your location.

RELATED: How Marijuana Slang Evolved Across States And Generations

Some believe that the term “marijuana” shouldn’t be used since it has a charged history of racism, particularly of Mexican immigrants. Others believe that using the term “cannabis” shies away from THC, and that the compound is nothing to be embarrassed of.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you decide to call your weed. When it comes to its legal use, however, “marijuana” is the term that most lawmakers prefer.


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