Hemp and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

If you’re exploring how CBD may be able to help you start, or even enhance your wellness journey, you probably already know that CBD is derived from hemp, that hemp is of the genus cannabis, and that it’s related to marijuana. For all the similarities between the two plants, there are some important differences between hemp and marijuana. Let’s explore them together.

Judging Cannabis By Its Cover

If you were to look at hemp and marijuana plants side by side, you’d observe some subtle differences in appearance. It’s true that hemp and marijuana both have those famous, finger-like leaves. However, hemp leaves tend to be green, long, and slender, though can vary based on how the plant is grown and its purpose (industrial or medicinal). Marijuana leaves can be long and slender, or short and wide. They can be one of many shades of green, or maybe even purple: the appearance of the plant depends on the cultivation of the strain.

But hemp and marijuana aren’t grown for their leaves. Although their leaves do have their uses, both species of cannabis are most commonly grown for their flowers. Hemp flowers appear “loose” in structure, while marijuana flowers are tightly knit together. It is in these flowers of both hemp and marijuana that the densest amount of their cannabinoids resides. And it’s the cannabinoids that reveal the most important differences between hemp and marijuana.

Those Famous Cannabinoids

When it comes to distinguishing hemp and marijuana most people rely on the legal definition. Simply put, the cannabinoid properties of hemp require it contains .3% or less THC. The full spectrum of cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana are the same, but those cannabinoids show up only in different quantities in each plant.

Properties of Hemp

Research into hemp properties reveals hemp is rich in CBD. Well, technically hemp is naturally rich in CBDA, which is converted to CBD when heated or during an extraction process. Yet there is a growing list of more than 100 cannabinoids (including CBN and CBG) that help account for our ever-expanding knowledge of hemp properties and characteristics.

While research is still emerging, scientists are working to uncover cannabinoids’ unique functions, as well as their possibilities with regard to wellness. Cannabinoids in their natural state (CBDA) are also providing interesting insights and possibilities.

While it is generally accepted that most cannabinoids do not have the intoxicating effects of THC, each cannabinoid interacts with and affects the others. And this combined interaction may play an integral role in how our bodies use them. This is why full-spectrum products are being studied for their range of potential benefits, in contrast to isolated cannabinoids.

There’s one last tidbit about the properties of hemp we need to touch on before we move on to discussing the properties of marijuana: how our bodies use CBD and benefit from its unique properties. CBD is used differently by the body than THC. The properties of CBD don’t directly interact with our endocannabinoid system, which regulates mood, sleep, and other processes that keep your body in balance.

They take a roundabout route: CBD interacts with other systems of our body, which, in turn, interact with the endocannabinoid system. However, when THC is also present, the properties of CBD do interact with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Some people even report that CBD helps reduce the intoxicating effects of THC when using them together.

CBD is undoubtedly a new frontier for wellness. There is still so much to learn, especially because human bodies are wildly dynamic and intricate. As we learn more about cannabinoids and our body’s endocannabinoid systems, there will likely be infinite opportunities to conduct new research, meaning more avenues to explore cannabis as a natural way to (potentially) enhance our overall wellness.

Properties of Marijuana.

Properties of Marijuana

Now that we know the properties of hemp, let’s look at the properties of marijuana. In states where marijuana is legal, it is common to find a variety of “strains” touting descriptions that include a variety of physical and cognitive effects. The labels which accompany marijuana flowers include the strain’s “testing.” More often than not, there is a significant amount of THC — about 12% – 25% — and there is usually little to zero CBD. Although you can find strains that have been bred to produce more significant quantities of both THC and CBD.

Similar to the general properties of hemp, marijuana does contain other cannabinoids. Discussion of the “Entourage Effect”, in which multiple cannabinoids must be present for any of them to work effectively, is still under investigation by researchers. However, with more states legalizing adult-use marijuana, the wellness conversation surrounding both hemp and marijuana has grown and expanded. Facilitating this conversation around cannabis will hopefully promote further research into the properties of hemp and marijuana and their unique benefits.

With that being said, we do know that the chemical properties of marijuana’s most abundant cannabinoid, THC, directly interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system, binding directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, otherwise used only for cannabinoids naturally created by our bodies. More research needs to be done to determine how this phytocannabinoid (a cannabinoid derived from a cannabis plant) plays a role, if any, in the body’s maintenance of homeostasis, as well as any other implications it has.

How to Extract Cannabinoids

Now that we’ve covered the differences, and the similarities, between hemp and marijuana it’s time to look at how people extract the cannabinoids from the cannabis flowers so they can be consumed. The truth is, if you were to pluck the flowers right from the plant and eat them you wouldn’t experience much if anything, other than maybe a bad taste. This is because the cannabinoids in raw cannabis aren’t activated. But that’s not to say that inactivated cannabinoids don’t have their potential in a wellness routine.

As we mentioned, before CBD becomes CBD it is CBDA. There is a heating process called “decarboxylation” which turns CBDA into CBD. The same goes for THC. THCA, which is THC before it is heated, actually has no psychotropic effects. Preliminary research shows that CBDA and THCA may have vast potential as anti-inflammatories.

CBDA is also showing promise in relieving nausea, as well as other beneficial uses. So if you were to consume raw hemp flower in a smoothie you could benefit from CBDA. And in states where hemp and marijuana are both legal, the same could be done with marijuana flowers.

However, most of the time, CBDA and THCA are converted into CBD and THC, respectively. Thomas Jefferson, while smoking hemp flower in his pipe, was actually turning CBDA into CBD.

However, any time you use heat to activate cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana, you degrade their quality. You may even destroy a certain amount of cannabinoids, as well. This is why there are also other extraction processes using solvents, as well as “solventless” processes, to extract the delicate cannabinoids.

How Sound CBD Preserves Cannabinoids

Hemp is a renewable resource and here at Sound CBD, we handle our plants with the integrity they deserve. They give us the entirety of their potential and we feel that it is our duty to show them the same respect. This is why we do not decarboxylate our hemp flowers. We use a cryoethanol process in order to preserve the integrity of the full spectrum of cannabinoids in our hemp before expertly blending them with a pure carrier for your oral or topical application.

It is our commitment to our plants and the earth, as well as our commitment to you to provide the properties of our hemp in their purest form. The potential of the array of cannabinoids in hemp to enhance your wellness is vast. And we believe that if you were to embrace the Sound CBD lifestyle you should feel confident about the oil you put in your body and the ingredients you put on your skin.

If you have any questions about hemp and marijuana as you explore Sound CBD products, do not hesitate to contact us.

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