Hemp, Cannabis and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

Hemp, Cannabis and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

After attending Hemp Fest this weekend in Las Vegas, I was very frustrated that Marijuana is being portrayed as Hemp. With all the confusion going on in this Cannabis industry, I would think ‘those who are in it,’ would do their best to be accurate with ‘what is’, so we can begin clearing up the lies we’ve been sold and all get back on the same page.  As I reached out to find out ‘what the heck is going on’ I was contacted by a fellow Cannabis Activist Mark Shanklin.  Mark has been the education industry for a long time AND he directed me to 

I am grateful to share this with you – it’s what our history is made of, truth & lies!

Hemp, Cannabis and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

Cannabis, hemp or marijuana is our oldest crop, sown for over 12,000 years (1), and may have been domesticated over 30,000 years ago. It produces more fuel, fiber, food and medicine than any other plant (2). The seeds of cannabis produce the most productive and nutritious vegetable oil and protein (3). Hemp produces more fiber, from its stems and stalks, than any other plant (4), and hemp fiber can be used to make paper, canvas, rope, lace, linen, building materials and more. Cannabis flowers and leaves also produce over 100 unique compounds known as cannabinoids that have many physical and psychological effects. (5)

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between hemp, cannabis and marijuana. Hemp, cannabis or marijuana all are scientifically denoted by the Latin term, Cannabis Sativa; hemp, cannabis or marijuana are all the same plant species, Cannabis Sativa. Varieties known as Cannabis Indica are just different varieties of the same species that were originally bred in India. Cannabis is not a genus, it is a species. Today, almost all varieties of cannabis used for medicine and social use are cross-breeds of both indica and sativa varieties. There are other varieties that have been denoted as well, such as Cannabis Ruderalis, and the modern pharmaceutical companies of Eli Lilly and Parke Davis produced many cannabis-based medicines, including some from a variety that they named Cannabis Americana.

Humans have co-evolved with cannabis for at least 12,000 years too. We have changed cannabis and cannabis has changed us. Our ancestors have bred cannabis for hundreds of generations. Today, hemp seeds’ protein profile and essential fatty acid profile perfectly match humans’ nutritional requirements. The cannabinoid profile of hemp has been bred to suit many demands, from medicine to social use. The origins of agriculture and civilization itself are linked to cannabis, and all archaeologists agree that cannabis was grown by our first ancestors to begin farming in Asia.

For instance, there are many different types of dogs that have been bred diversely from their original wolf ancestors. The original ancestor of the dog is known as Canis Lupus, and all modern dogs are known scientifically by their Latin name, Canis Lupus Familiaris. From the little Chihuahua to the huge Irish Wolfhound, these different varieties of canines are the results of human directed breeding.

The same with cannabis. In fact, the Latin word for cannabis and canine are from the same etymological root. Cannabis does have a profound physical effect on dogs, which might explain that.

Under US law, the definitions are clear. Different parts of the same cannabis plant are defined as hemp and other parts as cannabis or marijuana, and the seed may be defined as either, depending upon its viability. According to US law, hemp is the stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa, and marijuana is the leaves, flowers and viable seeds of cannabis sativa. Male or female cannabis has no differentiation by law or science, beyond gender. Of course, you can’t get any cannabis or hemp seeds except via female flowers fertilized by male pollen. Just as there are different varieties of corn, there are different varieties of cannabis. The varieties of cannabis that are over-regulated but legal in Canada & Europe are those that produce less than 0.3 percent THC. Since most THC is in the flowers, these low THC varieties are specifically bred to have very few flowering sites, thus little THC. Unfortunately, these ‘low THC but legal in Canada & Europe’ varieties, which I call dwarf hemp, produces very little seed and half the fiber compared to varieties of cannabis with more THC.

It’s time to restore hemp, the oldest & most productive crop. Cannabis & hemp were renamed marijuana in the early part of the 20th Century in a misinformation campaign designed by and to benefit the petrochemical pharmaceutical military industrial transnational crony corporate elite ruling class (6). The reason hemp, or marijuana, was prohibited in the 20th century was to suppress hemp fuel and fiber production. Cannabis prohibition has always been about money, power and the centralization of economic and political control. Hemp fuel and fiber are inexpensive to make and naturally decentralized. Small groups of people created the marijuana myth so they could profit from the expensive, capital intensive petrochemical alternatives that dominate our political process and economy today. Hemp will decentralize our economic system and return wealth and control to the majority.

Hemp, by every measure, makes more fuel, fiber, food and medicine than any other plant. An acre of hemp, on an annual basis, produces 300 gallons of seed oil (for fuel, plastics and food), 3 tons of high protein hempseed meal, 10 tons of bast fiber for canvas, rope lace and linen, 25 tons of hurd fiber for paper and building materials, and, from its leaves and biomass, ethanol for fuel too.

Hemp produces more fiber than any other plant. There are two types of fiber in a marijuana stalk or stem, the bast fiber, which is the outer bark, and the hurd fiber, or the inner woody core. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Bulletin 404, a waste product from making canvas, rope,lace and linen from hemp bast fiber, this hemp hurd fiber alone, makes over 4 times more paper than trees. Hemp paper is acid free, for a long shelf life, and produced without toxic chemicals. According to Washington State University’s Wood Sciences Lab, hemp fiber board is stronger than steel. When we start using hemp instead of wood fiber for paper and building materials, deforestation may well cease.

Hemp seed oil is biodiesel fuel. Hemp biomass makes ethanol. Hemp fuel is completely nontoxic, whereas petroleum production is extremely toxic, poisoning everything it touches. Hemp makes more biofuel than any other plant. Hemp fuels are carbon neutral and its wide-scale adoption will help restore balance in many ways. When we allow farmers to grow hemp for its best fuel attributes, regardless of THC content, we will realign our whole economic system by replacing fossil fuel with biofuel.

Plastics made with hempseed oil are much cheaper and nontoxic too. Hemp plastics are biodegradable, unlike petrochemical-produced plastics.

Hemp seeds produce more oil and protein than any other plant per land area cultivated. Hemp protein and oil are rich in the essential fatty acids (EFAs) that our brain and cardiovascular system need, Omega 3 & 6, in the perfect ratio for optimal human health. Hemp protein has all 8 amino acids, again, in just the right balance to meet humans’ nutritional needs.

Per acre, according to a study published in the Notre Dame University journal, The American Midland Naturalist, wild hemp here in the USA produces 8,000 pounds of seed per acre. This study is called: An Ecological Study of Naturalized Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in East-Central Illinois, by Alan Haney and Benjamin B. Kutscheid at the University of Indiana at Urbana, Department of Biology.

After you press the 8,000 pounds of hemp seeds, you get over 300 gallonsof oil and 6,000 pounds of high protein hemp meal. That is over 7 barrels of oil (42 US gallons) produced per acre, which is extremely healthy while fresh, and 3 tons of food per acre. This oil production rate is three times more productive than the next most productive seed oil crops: soybeans, canola and sunflower seeds, which each produce 100 to 115 gallons of oil per acre. Hempseed oil will be the most productive source of biodiesel fuel when legalized, and, as noted above, it is also a nontoxic resource for plastics and other products.

It is difficult to fathom how one plant can produce more fuel, fiber, food and medicine than any other plant, and that this plant is the oldest crop sown. How we can all be relatively ignorant of these facts? And that this plant is illegal across the world. But cannabis prohibition was sold based upon lies to benefit the petrochemical robber barons and their proxy successor corporate oligarchs who rule the world today. Again, cannabis prohibition was implemented based upon lies to benefit the petrochemical, pharmaceutical, military industrial, transnational, corporate elite, crony capitalist ruling class. Ending cannabis prohibition is the solution for many economic, environmental and social issues. Drugs are a smokescreen. This is the subversion of the natural cycle to the synthetic cycle. We don’t need to fight wars for oil because our farmers can produce a superior product. Hemp is the premier source for energy, and the byproducts of cannabis fuel production can feed humanity and save the precious remnants of our biosphere and life for future generations.

I believe that, with the convergence of genetic science, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence now underway, restoring cannabis for all its uses is critically important for the future of freedom for humanity. Legal rulings, such as the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Citizens United, now hold that corporations are artificial individuals that have even more rights than natural, flesh-and-blood individuals, people. If we can continue to prohibit the oldest and most productive crop based upon lies, then I fear that it becomes more likely that humanity itself may be subverted by our newly created artificial intelligence in the not-so-distant future. Cannabis is a critical bellwether for freedom of thought and consciousness.

It is really an issue of economic and social justice. Please work for and support global cannabis freedom. Restore hemp!


1 Ernest L. Abel; Marijuana – The First Twelve Thousand Years; 1980

2 Alan Haney and Benjamin B. Kutscheid (U. of Illinois at Urbana, Dept. of Biology); The American Midland Naturalist; January 1975 (periodical, U. of Notre Dame)

3 Urdo Erasmus; Fats That Heal- Fats That Kill; 1993 (book)

4 United States Department of Agriculture, Bulletin No. 404; Lyster H. Dewey, Botanist in Charge of Fiber-Plant Investigations, and Jason L. Merrill, Paper-Plant Chemist

5 Aizpurua-Olaizola, Oier; Soydaner, Umut; Öztürk, Ekin; Schibano, Daniele; Simsir, Yilmaz; Navarro, Patricia; Etxebarria, Nestor; Usobiaga, Aresatz (2016-02-02). “Evolution of the Cannabinoid and Terpene Content during the Growth of Cannabis sativa; Plants from Different Chemotypes”; Journal of Natural Products

6 Gatewood Galbraith, The Last Free Man in America: Meets the Synthetic Subversion; 2004

D. Paul Stanford is the founder of The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation, THCF Medical Clinics, and the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp.

The push in the United States to re-legalize industrial hemp farming.

The push in the United States to re-legalize industrial hemp farming.

Industrial Hemp

Industrial hemp is an invaluable renewable resource that is gaining popularity in the U.S. marketplace. As states in the U.S. continue to legalize hemp, more and more hemp products are found on local store shelves.

The U.S. is currently the largest importer of industrial hemp grown products in the world. To date, almost all hemp merchandise on U.S. shelves are imported into the U.S., as commercial cultivation of industrial hemp is still illegal under U.S. Federal law. Although market data is not readily available, the Congressional Research Service estimated that the U.S. imported $12,271,000 worth of hemp goods in 2011. In 2013, the U.S. imported approximately $36,866,000 of products made of hemp. Now in 2016, it’s clear to see the demand for hemp in the U.S. is increasing exponentially.

Similarly, as U.S. imports of hemp increase, the U.S. market share for hemp products is increasing exponentially. In 2010, Vote Hemp estimated U.S. retail industrial hemp sales at $419 million. In 2013, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) estimated U.S. retail sales around $581 million. In 2015, HIA estimated U.S. retails sales at more than $620 million. These products were all produced with imported hemp. It’s time U.S. farmers share in that market.

Legalize Industrial Hemp

At least 27 U.S. states have distinguished hemp from marijuana, removing barriers to production. As more states re-legalize, declassify hemp and begin hemp production, we will start to see “Made in the U.S.A.” products on store shelves.

Currently, hemp grown products in America are produced, manufactured, and sold under the auspices of market research, compliant with provisions in the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill). Pending action on the federal level, U.S. farmers will soon engage in full commercial cultivation.

Many U.S. states have enacted hemp cultivation legislation specifically for the economic opportunities that industrial hemp provides. For example, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky base their support for hemp legalization, and in particular Kentucky’s hemp legalization in 2013, on the economic benefits of industrial hemp. Senate Majority Leader McConnell stated,

“After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy…The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”

Legislative Committees around the country that are reviewing proposed hemp bills are echoing industrial hemp’s potential as a mechanism to create jobs and provide abundant economic opportunities. One of the focuses of the Oregon 2016 Legislative Session was implementation of industrial hemp legislation that provides for a sustainable industry that will provide farmers with an alternative crop as well as put rural communities back to work. In Oregon this is especially important for those communities that have been negatively affected by the decline in the timber industry. Rural communities throughout the country are seeking new economic opportunities, which hemp farming can provide.

A resurgence in hemp industry, hemp production will create jobs in all sectors. For example positions will open up in academics, agriculture, business administration, construction, health care, law, manufacturing, marketing, processing, retail sales, and transportation sectors. Since hemp can be produced into a myriad of products, all sectors will be able to take advantage of hemp benefits.

Increasing hemp acreage is paramount to realizing industrial hemp’s economic benefits. As U.S. farmers increase production, U.S. manufacturers and retailers will use U.S. grown industrial hemp, and will no longer need to rely on imported hemp. Having an increased, local supply of industrial hemp will enable U.S. manufacturers to engage in state of the art processing techniques to produce products from industrial hemp that are currently being produced from non-renewable materials, for example, hemp plastics. Eventually, the U.S. will export, rather than import, industrial hemp grown products.

Availability of U.S. hemp will reduce importation and transportation costs, which will lead to reduced wholesale and retail costs of hemp products. As wholesale costs decrease, manufacturers not currently using hemp in their products will be able to incorporate industrial hemp into those products. As retail prices decrease, more consumers will be able to afford items from the hemp industry and they will become common household items, in all households.

Increasing U.S. production will also provide significant environmental benefits. Hemp farmers that are currently allowing their fields to go fallow, can use industrial hemp as a rotation crop. When used in rotation, hemp plants can break disease cycles, replenish soil, and provide farmers with additional income. Industrial hemp can also remove toxins added to soil through conventional farming, assisting farmers converting to organic farming. Consumers are becoming conscious consumers, demanding sustainability produced and organically grown products. Industry representatives report that organic hemp products retail for three times the value of conventional industrial hemp grown products.

To guarantee the U.S. once again reaps the full potential industrial hemp has to offer, it is essential that laws enacted regulating industrial hemp provide for a sustainable, thriving industry. Arbitrary limitations today will have significant impacts on the development of the industry in years to come. Hemp laws need to protect agricultural, manufacturing, and consumer interests, while ensuring standards are put in place that protect public health and safety.

Industrial hemp is already starting to revitalize the U.S. economy. Development of the U.S. industrial hemp industry is providing abundant economic opportunities around every corner. As US hemp farmers begin to increase their production, processors are modifying existing hemp processing equipment as well as bringing new hemp processing equipment to the U.S., manufacturers are developing new products, and retailers are bringing those products to market. jobs are opening up in all sectors in states that are actively developing an industrial hemp industry. Industrial hemp will provide for a strong, sustainable economy.

Written by Courtney N. Moran, LL.M.

EARTH Law, LLC – courtney@earthlawllc.com

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