CBD AND THC content - all of your questions answered
Why has cannabis become such an elusive, confusing plant to talk about? It’s because the history of cannabis is complex.
It is referred to by a huge range of different names, with cannabis and marijuana being two of the most prominent – but what is the difference between cannabis and marijuana when you really get down to it?
Despite varying legal status in the United States and other countries, this plant has played multiple roles in human history, from ancient medicinal practices to today’s modern technological revolution.
This article explains everything you need to know.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is an umbrella term that includes both hemp plants (which can be used to make textiles, paper, rope, etc.) and marijuana.
As you know, many countries have legalized the recreational use of pot.
When looking at the Cannabis genus as a whole, there are obvious similarities between the species within it.
In fact, the Cannabis genus is home to three different types of plants: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis.
They both refer to different parts of the same plant, but there is a difference between cannabis and marijuana.
The cannabis genus includes three distinct species, as mentioned above.
These plants are indigenous to Central Asia, but they’re now cultivated worldwide for their different effects and uses.
In fact, humans have been using cannabis as a natural remedy for at least 5,000 years.
However, it was only in 1970 that scientists identified cannabinoid receptors in human tissue.
This discovery spawned a new field of research into cannabinoids and how they interact with the human body.
The difference between cannabis and marijuana
Cannabis is a scientific genus of flowering plants that has three distinct species. Marijuana is an American colloquial term for parts of the Cannabis sativa plant used for medicinal or recreational purposes.
So when people refer to pot or weed or dope or whatever else they call it, they’re talking about marijuana.
A hemp is a form of cannabis with extremely low levels of THC that are bred specifically for industrial uses.
Medical research shows many potential health benefits of inhaling cannabis smoke, such as pain relief, reduction in nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, and better sleep.
Federal law prohibits doctors from prescribing it.
Federal law also says cannabis products cannot be transported across state lines because it’s illegal.
Any doctor who wants to prescribe it must get their patient’s cannabis from a licensed grower in their state.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifies all forms of cannabis as Schedule I, making it illegal to possess or use.
This means that according to federal law, not only is it illegal to grow or sell marijuana but even possessing it is a criminal offense.
As a result, any person who wants to use medical marijuana needs an issued license from their state that allows them access to medical-grade marijuana.
The History of cannabis and marijuana
Cannabis comes from a flowering plant that’s part of the Cannabaceae family.
The plant was thought to have been used for therapeutic benefits dating back to ancient times, including at least 4,000 years ago in China.
In many cultures around the world, cannabis has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions.
Cannabis made its way into Western medicine in 1839 when William O’Shaughnessy, a doctor with the British East India Company, brought cannabis oil back from India.
It wasn’t until the 1880s that the medicinal value of the cannabis plant was re-discovered.
This edition traces its history of discovery, use, and regulation in the U.S., covering scientific discoveries about its psychoactive ingredients, cannabinoids, and their therapeutic roles for pain management and memory loss disorders.
About 80 years ago, cannabis use became controversial, specifically when it became illegal across North America.
That said, there are still restrictions on some parts of cannabis cultivation; for example, growing too many plants is still illegal in Canada (and some other countries), with only four plants per household allowed.
If you register with Health Canada, you can grow more than four cannabis plants, but manygrowers choose not to go through all that effort.
Different Types of Cannabis Strains
3 main marijuana strains grow today:
Some people like to use these labels as catch-all terms for good or bad weed, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into when you buy any strain.
Here are some differences between cannabis and marijuana to be aware of if you choose to walk down the strain lane.
Let’s dive deeper into the difference between cannabis and marijuana by looking at these three main types of plants.
1. Cannabis Indica
Indica is known for its body highs—and many claim an indica high is perfect for relaxation at night before bed.
Although there are some naturally growing indicas out there, most indicas today have been bred specifically to be shorter and bushier—meaning they don’t have as many leaves as sativas or long stems like sativas or sativa-leaning hybrids do.
They also grow in colder climates (which means growing indoors may take more effort).
- Read more about the Differences Between Indica and Sativa
2. Cannabis Sativa
Sativa is known more for its heady high—and often creates an uplifting high that can last hours if taken during daytime hours.
Sativa plants are native to tropical climates in parts of Africa, Asia, Central America, California, Jamaica, Mexico—basically any place with a consistently tropical climate.
They’re generally longer plants with thinner leaves—and are known for their cerebral high rather than couch lock effects. Indica is more of a middle-of-the-road plant type.
Hybrids combine aspects of both worlds, though they tend to lean toward one side over another.
For example, a Sativa-leaning hybrid may have a slightly stimulating head high with a touch of couch lock.
A hybrid-leaning indica may have enough up-high action to help boost creativity, or spark conversation with friends, but will also have enough of a kick in terms of mellowness that couch lock isn’t even really an issue for heavy users.
Hybrid strains are the best of both worlds when it comes to the body versus head highs.
The legal difference between cannabis and marijuana
In 1970, Congress passed a law making it illegal to grow, distribute or use pot for any purpose.
The Controlled Substances Act has three classifications for drugs: Schedule I are recreational drugs considered extremely dangerous with no medical benefits.
Drugs in Schedule II have a high potential for abuse and an accepted medical use, but they still carry a high risk for addiction.
- Want to know more about the Differences Between Hemp & Marijuana?
And then there’s Schedule III, which are drugs with less risk of physical dependence than substances in Schedules I and II.
Just one word is now generally accepted as referring to plants within Cannabis sativa L – ‘Marijuana’, which is currently classified as a Schedule I drug.
- Click this link to learn more about drug scheduling
When the farm bill of 2014 was passed, it contained a provision that legalized growing some marijuana products in the U.S. For commercial purposes, it is still illegal to grow marijuana.
However, because of this provision, certain states have begun experimenting with commercialized growth.
The results are phenomenal, but many people are wondering how they can grow recreational marijuana legally.
The Farm Bill is the primary federal law governing agriculture in the United States.
The Farm Bill has a significant impact on all aspects of the agricultural act, including planting, cultivating, harvesting, manufacturing, packaging, transporting, advertising, or selling agricultural products.
Marijuana belongs to one of those agricultural products.
Congress attempted to regulate marijuana under the CSA -not through the Farm Bill.
Difference Between THC and CBD and common cannabinoids
THC is an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found in high concentrations in parts of the cannabis plant (more specifically, their flowers) that are popular for recreational use.
It causes feelings of euphoria; it can also increase appetite and reduce nausea.
This compound’s psychoactive effects are responsible for giving users a high when consumed or vaporized.
On the other hand, CBD is one of more than 100 compounds called cannabinoids found in hemp plants like whole-plant cannabis.
CBD doesn’t give you that high—in fact, sometimes it has just the opposite effect.
The key difference between THC and CBD is that THC is psychoactive, while CBD isn’t, but it still has great therapeutic value.
Many patients with epilepsy, anxiety disorders, chronic pain conditions, or cancer opt to use CBD oil because it does not make them feel high even though they deliver relief from symptoms.
Some people think that if something comes from a cannabis plant, it contains THC, but multiple strains of cannabis only contain small amounts of THC. For example, there are strains of cannabis known as hemp.
In states where cannabis use is legal, some recommend finding a strain with a higher CBD content so that customers don’t get too stoned.
A good rule of thumb here is: If it smells skunky, it probably has a lot of THC; if it smells earthy, check out its cannabinoid profile to see how much CBD is contained within before buying CBD products.
Cannabis and Marijuana - The Bottom Line
When discussing the difference between cannabis and marijuana, the confusion comes from two main reasons.
Firstly, People don’t understand what each term means. Secondly, there is no single definition that everyone agrees on.
The truth is, cannabis refers to both a type of plant and industry or market. Marijuana is most commonly used to refer to dried flowers containing high levels of THC, but it can also be used interchangeably with cannabis.
In other words, if someone says marijuana is illegal in many states, they could have meant cannabis is illegal in many states.
They’re not wrong either way—they might not know all the subtleties behind their choice of terminology.
Marijuana is a term used to refer to dried flowers from a female cannabis plant.
The term cannabis refers to both male and female plants and the many compounds derived from those plants, including THC, CBD, THCA, CBDA CBG, CBN, Delta-8 THC, etc.
In addition to dried flower products containing high levels of THC, you’ll also find oils extracted from cannabis that can be administered under a doctor’s care for a variety of ailments.