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January 14, 2020 3 min read

Clearing the Smoke - Hemp vs. Cannabis

As the hemp market continues to boom and come into its own, consumers remain confused about the differences between hemp and cannabis. The cannabidiol (CBD) market has exploded and developed into a unique industry that is completely separate from cannabis; however, it still retains close ties to the cannabis space.

Both cannabis and hemp are subject to ever-changing legalities and regulations, and wading through the murky waters of cannabis and hemp education can be exhausting and confusing.

What Is Cannabis?

Cannabis, a genus of flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family, consists of three main subspecies: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis.

Cannabis sativa and cannabis indica are the two main classifications of cannabis, accounting for the differences in indica versus sativa strains, while cannabis ruderalis, a low THC strain of cannabis, is generally lumped in with cannabis sativa. Many experts feel that cannabis ruderalis is a subspecies of cannabis sativa rather than a third subspecies of cannabis itself.

Cannabis is a substance that contains greater than .3% THC and has psychotropic or psychoactive effects. Although the percentage of THC can vary between strains of cannabis, any strain having more than .3% THC is classified as cannabis rather than hemp.

Cannabis is the substance culturally known as "marijuana". A substance that will get the user high and produce mind-altering effects. Cannabis is popular among recreational as well as medical users, although it is still a Schedule I, federally banned substance.

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is part of the cannabis sativa subspecies and is defined as a substance containing less than .3% THC. Essentially, hemp does not get the user high.

Hemp has been used throughout history to make items such as paper, rope, clothing, housing material, and many others, but the recent explosion of the hemp CBD market has shifted the focus of hemp to medical applications.

Cultivators are now focused on producing hemp strains with high levels of CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, which has numerous health-related uses.

Understanding the Differences

At first glance, cannabis and hemp look identical. Both plants produce frost-covered flowers that can be dried and consumed through methods such as smoking or vaping.

The only factor separating these two plants is the THC content, or chemical make-up of the plant, something that is not visible to the naked eye. This causes significant confusion for law enforcement agencies, who oftentimes confiscate legal hemp material thinking it is illegal cannabis.

There is also a distinct difference in the legality of hemp and cannabis. Hemp was federally legalized under the Farm Bill of 2018, while cannabis has yet to be federally legalized.

There are medical provisions in many states, which allow for the consumption of cannabis for medical purposes, but this requires a license. Additionally, nine states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis however, the substance remains federally illegal, and state-level dispensaries are susceptible to federal raids and being shut down.

It’s All About the Terpenes

Although there are significant differences between hemp and cannabis, one of the biggest similarities between the two plants is the terpenes. Both hemp and cannabis contain full terpene profiles and are packed full of the rich essential oils that contribute to the overall effects and benefits of hemp and cannabis.

Whether cannabis is being consumed for its psychoactive effects or hemp is being used for its medicinal properties, both plants offer the consumer the added benefit of terpenes.

Meraki Tips can further enhance experiences with hemp and cannabis, especially terpenes. Our Sayonara Tip is infused with a proprietary blend of organic food-grade terpenes that are meant to consistently boost the relaxing properties of a particular herb while the Peaceful Tip is perfect for curbing unwanted anxieties. Whether you are consuming hemp or cannabis, roll with Meraki Tips to elevate your experience.