Humans have a long history with cannabis that dates back to the prehistoric era. Though the plant originated in Tibet, its cultivation has since spread throughout the world.
The Cannabis Sativa species produces both hemp and marijuana plants. We distinguish a hemp plant from a marijuana plant according to the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in the plant. THC is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid responsible that makes you feel euphoric or “stoned.”
In the United States, hemp contains less than 0.3% THC. Anything above that THC threshold is classified as cannabis or “marijuana.” However, this THC limit varies around the world. In some countries, the THC limit is as high as 1%, while in others — such as the UK — the limit is as low as 0.01%.
In short, hemp products won’t get you “high,” and cannabis possesses many other attributes besides its recreational uses.
Uses of Hemp and Marijuana
Though hemp and marijuana derive from the same species, they serve different purposes.
- Industrial hemp may potentially address many environmental concerns, as it can be manufactured into sustainable paper and plastic products.
- Hemp fibers can be fashioned into various durable textile products, such as clothing, linens, tote bags, and more.
- Medicinal-grade hemp plants contain various cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is one of the most prevalent hemp-derived cannabinoids and continues to gain popularity as a therapeutic ingredient in tinctures, lotions, and various other products. These products can be full, broad, or isolate, which you can learn more about here.
- Contains at least 0.3% THC and various other cannabis-compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
- Medicinal marijuana continues to gain acceptance as more research emerges and more states legalize high-THC cannabis.
- THC and other cannabis compounds in medical marijuana are recognized for their therapeutic potential due to their myriad of anti-inflammatory effects.
What kinds of ailments will medical marijuana alleviate?
Medical marijuana can relieve pain, inflammation, and stress. The conditions that qualify a patient to receive medical marijuana vary from state to state, but some conditions that most states cover include:
- Autoimmune conditions such as arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia
- Anorexia and other eating disorders
- Nausea and appetite loss resulting from chemotherapy
- Depression and other mental health conditions
- Multiple Sclerosis
What Is a Cannabinoid?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis plants with various therapeutic properties. There are over 100 different cannabinoids, though only eight of them are considered “major cannabinoids.”
How Do Cannabinoids Help Us with Health Problems?
Cannabinoids interact with various receptors throughout your body, including Endocannabinoid System (ECS) receptors, TRP channels, and many, many more.
The ECS, specifically, is present throughout practically all parts of your body, from your brain to your gut to your immune system. ECS receptors play a critical role in maintaining homeostatic functions, such as metabolism.
Despite its name, the ECS is active regardless of your cannabis use or exposure. However, the phytocannabinoids from high-THC cannabis or hemp interact with the ECS in various ways to help maintain its balance.
What Are the Legal Issues Surrounding Hemp and Marijuana?
Cannabis is currently legal in one way or another in about 75% of the United States. While some states are medical-use only states, others are “recreational.” States with recreational cannabis laws permit anyone 21 years or older to purchase cannabis from a dispensary.
Read More: Maps: Is Cannabis Legal in Your State?
In medical-use only states, you must apply for a medical marijuana card with the state after being certified by a physician. However, it can’t just be any doctor, like your primary care doctor. The physician has to be one of the state-approved medical marijuana doctors to provide approval for your card.
Some states allow medical marijuana users to grow a small amount of marijuana. But the number of mature and immature plants you can grow at one time varies depending on what state you live in.
Is getting a medical marijuana card worth it if you live in a state that legalized recreational marijuana?
If you qualify for a medical marijuana card due to an underlying health condition, going through the steps to get the Medical Marijuana ID card makes sense. Medical dispensaries sometimes carry products that are more potent that what you’d find at recreational dispensaries. Medical cannabis patients also pay lower taxes on their cannabis purchases than recreational consumers.
The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp-derived CBD products, and almost every state makes these products readily available. At the federal level, marijuana remains illegal, so the legislative battles continue.
1. How do I know if CBD or medical marijuana is right for me?
Check the legal status and provisions for medical marijuana in your state and then discuss your needs with your doctor or a state-certified cannabis physician.
2. Can I help with the federal legalization of marijuana?
Yes, communicate with your local officials and get involved in advocacy groups like NORMAL. Review candidates’ profiles on cannabis legislation and vote accordingly.