Origin Hemp Plant
Hemp, (Cannabis sativa), also called industrial hemp, plant of the family Cannabaceae cultivated for its fibre (bast fibre) or its edible seeds. Hemp is sometimes confused with the cannabis plants that serve as sources of the drug marijuana and the drug preparation hashish. Although all three products—hemp, marijuana, and hashish—contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound that produces psychoactive effects in humans, the variety of cannabis cultivated for hemp has only small amounts of THC relative to that grown for the production of marijuana or hashish.
The hemp plant is a stout, aromatic, erect annual herb. The slender canelike stalks are hollow except at the tip and base. The leaves are compound with palmate shape, and the flowers are small and greenish-yellow. Seed-producing flowers form elongate, spikelike clusters growing on the pistillate, or female, plants. Pollen-producing flowers form many-branched clusters on staminate, or male, plants.
It’s a common misconception that hemp and marijuana are two different species of plant.
In fact, they’re not distinct speciesTrusted Source at all. They’re just two different names for cannabis, a type of flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family.
While science doesn’t differentiate between “hemp” and “marijuana,” the law does. Legally, the key difference between the two is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.
THC is one of many cannabinoids or chemicals found in the cannabis plant. It’s the one that’s primarily responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis.
What is hemp?
The term “hemp” is used to mean cannabis that contains 0.3 percent or less THC content by dry weight.
Why 0.3 percent? This definition was first proposed in 1979, in a book called “The Species Problem in Cannabis: Science & Semantics.” In the book, author Ernest Small addresses the fact that it’s difficult to distinguish hemp and cannabis because there’s no actual taxonomical difference between the two.
Small proposed the 0.3 percent rule as a possible solution, but he himself acknowledged that it’s an arbitrary number.
This number was used in the legal definition of hemp, as specified in the Agricultural Act of 2018 and other laws in the United States.
Because the THC level in hemp is so low, it’s unlikely to get you high.
What is marijuana?
Usually, when people say “marijuana,” they’re talking about cannabis that can get you high. The term is used interchangeably with “weed” and a number of other terms. Legally, “marijuana” refers to cannabis that has more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. THC content can vary among cannabis plants. Some strains are bred to be higher in THC than others.
Cannabis plants have been designated as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or a hybrid. Each of these has its own purported characteristics and effects, although science has yet to verify this.
History and Racism
The word “marijuana” is quite controversial due to its racist roots.
In the early 20th century, many Mexicans immigrated to the United States due to the Mexican Revolution. This led to growing racist and anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. At this time, cannabis was a legal cross-border import.
The word “marijuana” hadn’t been used a lot before then. Instead, the word “cannabis” was the scientific name and far more commonly used. However, in the 1910s and 1920s, the word “marijuana” became associated with Mexicans, who were stereotyped as people who frequently used cannabis.
The U.S. government used the term “marijuana” in anti-cannabis propaganda to cement the association between cannabis and Mexican immigrants. This anti-cannabis propaganda spread a lot of myths around cannabis while also perpetuating racist stereotypes.
In the 1930s, this propaganda persisted and heavily contributed to cannabis becoming illegal. To this day, there’s a great deal of debate over what we should call “marijuana.” Because it’s tied to racist and anti-cannabis propaganda, “marijuana” is a word that many people in the industry are no longer using, preferring to simply use the word “cannabis” instead. This can be confusing because the Cannabis species also includes hemp.
Disclaimer: This article is originally published on https://www.britannica.com/plant/hemp#:~:text=Hemp%20originated%20in%20Central%20Asia,Europe%20during%20the%20Middle%20Ages.