Understanding the difference between hemp and marijuana is often difficult. This isn't because the concept itself is a hard one, but rather because it goes against what we have been taught. We have been taught about the evils of marijuana and cannibis and as such we either want it to be legalized so that we can use it, or we want to protect our young ones from it and we fear our neighbors may be using it. No matter which group you fall into, there is a difference between hemp and marijuana.
Both are forms of the plant cannabis sativa. They are essentially weeds that will grow in a wide variety of conditions, climates, and soil types. Over the years both plants have been used for a wide variety of uses. However, they are not the same.
What Makes Marijuana a Drug?
No matter how you feel about marijuana, whether you would classify it as a medicine, a drug, a recreational tool, or a narcotic doesn't really matter. What makes it this way is its THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)content. It takes at least 3% THC in order to get high and higher quality marijuana (used for drug consumption) will have 10-15% THC.
How Much THC Does Hemp Have?
Due to the way hemp is grown and its separation from marijuana, hemp has a much lower THC content. Usually hemp's' THC content is about 0.01-0.03%. This makes it worthless for getting high. It has been estimated by some researchers of hemp that it would take an acre of hemp to get high. In one acre of hemp there is about 10-20 tons of plant material grown. If one attempted to smoke this much and didn't quickly give up, they would die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Differences in Growth.
Often it is argued by those who know there is a difference between hemp and marijuana that they could be grown together thereby deceiving authorities and passerby while effectively providing marijuana for those who wish to use it. This isn't an option however. Hemp is grown in rows one to two inches apart. The plants are grown very close together and shoot up toward the sky till they are taller then full grown men. They have a woody core and are stiff and hard to walk through. Marijuana on the other hand is grown with lots of room to bush out. You want 18" or more worth of space between the marijuana bushes. You want them to have lots of low branches (something that doesn't happen on hemp), leaves, and soft flexible stems. These growing methods encourage THC development making it better for use as a drug.
Growing Them Together.
Growing hemp and marijuana isn't an option. By doing that you get cross pollination which leaves both plants infertile. When they cross pollinate you loose the buds of the flowers and the seeds. With hemp these parts are very useful for a wide variety of uses (oil, food, seed for the following year). With marijuana the bud is the part of the plant that has the most THC, if this doesn't fully develop due to cross pollination then you loose a lot of the material that can be smoked.
The difference in THC levels make hemp and marijuana a lot different. There are thousands of products that can be made from hemp, but it must be set aside that hemp and marijuana are the same thing. It must be understood that hemp can not be smoked for a high, marijuana can not be grown in place of hemp and fool authorities, and marijuana and hemp can not be grown together (or even with in a mile radius of one another).