Today is Earth Day and Monday was 4/20, which means we’re smack in the middle of a confluence of fascinating issues; specifically, issues surrounding hemp, America’s needlessly illegal and potentially ecologically beneficial agricultural phantom. Scientists, farmers, retailers, and even growing numbers of American lawmakers across the political spectrum know that hemp and marijuana are chemically and even visibly different plants. So why is hemp still classified as a Schedule 2 drug?
So What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
If you’ve watched any of those godawful History Channel documentaries on marijuana, you probably already know that hemp used to be a major crop in the United States; that we used to make cording out of it for ships, that we’ve printed all sorts of very important documents on hemp paper. It was phased out as a crop in 1937 with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act, which made it unfeasibly expensive for farmers to grow hemp as a crop, and then the 1970 Controlled Substances Act wiped it out entirely by categorizing hemp as a controlled substance in the precise same way as its cousin, marijuana.
Which is ludicrous. It’s like saying that cauliflower and mustard are the same thing because they come from the same family of plants, even though everyone knows that cauliflower rules and mustard drools, duh. (A more apt comparison: It’s like saying that poppy seeds and opium are the same thing, which they aren’t, duh.) The differences between marijuana and hemp as forms of cannabis plants are not just vast, they’re actually obvious and visible. The value of hemp plants lies in the stalks, the outer portion of which contain long, strong bast fibers and the inner portion of which contain a woody fiber called hurds; and also in the seeds, which are themselves nutritious but which also produce oils that we use in cosmetics and foods. The value of marijuana, on the other hand, lies in the flowers and leaves, which contain concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that make the plant useful for hallucinogenic drugs.
For that reason, you can actually, visibly tell hemp and marijuana apart. Hemp plants are grown close together to
discourage leaf and flower growth. They’re grown taller, because the point is to harvest as much hemp stalk as possible. Marijuana plants …Read More