The Difference Between Hemp And Cannabis
7 min

The Difference Between Hemp And Cannabis

7 min
Facts News

Hemp and cannabis are commonly confused. Although they have a plethora of different uses that have the potential to change the medical and industrial worlds, these plants share the exact same roots.

Cannabis sativa is probably the most profound and yet controversial plant that humanity has ever had such an intimate and long term relationship with. It catalyzed a surge in industry for the American colonies; providing paper, fuel, fiber and serving as sails and rigging on ships. Cannabis paper was the canvas on which the US Declaration of Independence was drafted. Its use spans far back into history as both a tool and medicine to at least 4000 BC in China, where emperors wrote of it in reverence.

After a period of vast suppression, this plant ally is starting to bloom into freedom again. Various countries of the Earth are beginning to research and utilize its medicinal and industrial qualities once more. However many governing bodies of the world still persecute users and growers and place them in cages for long periods of time if they exercise their sovereign right to cultivate cannabis for its dietary and medicinal inputs. Due to its unlawful censorship and decades of vicious propaganda much confusion and distortion has arisen regarding the nature of this multifaceted plant.

One particular area that remains highly misunderstood is the difference between what is often referred to as hemp, and that which is recognized as cannabis and/or marijuana. In reality these two entities are actually one and the same. Where they differ is in their genetics makeups. These differences have arisen due to adaptations to changes in the environment due to selective breeding over many centuries.

The factor that divides this plant into two separate categories is the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that it produces. This three lettered acronym will prick the ears of many cannabis users and laymen alike, for this molecule is what graces the cannabis plant with its ability to produce the psychoactive experience of the famed marijuana high.

Health Canada states, “In the Industrial Hemp Regulations, industrial hemp includes Cannabis plants and plant parts, of any variety, that contains 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less in the leaves and flowering heads.” 

Such classifications fluctuate from nation to nation, however this definition provides a decent template to understand the fundamental difference in the two variations of the same plant species.

Hemp is usually grown outdoors, requires very little if any chemicals to grow, is an industrial powerhouse and has been and continues to be used to provide a diverse range of products from food to fuel to paper.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is higher in THC and therefore has its uses rooted in the realms of recreation and medication.

Each of these variations of the cannabis plant have massive amounts of uses that have served humanity for centuries. As our tools of scientific analysis become more advanced and refined we continue to look deeper into the cannabis plant and its constituents. What has been revealed is a healing factory beyond comprehension. Whereas hemp is needed now more than ever before as our abuse of unsustainable means of energy is pushing the Earth its absolute limit.

Hemp as a Botanical Messiah

Often when I think about hemp I am utterly astonished at its multifaceted and industrious nature, and here I am not alone. Increasing amounts of authors, activists and scientists are emitting the brave claim that “hemp can save the world”. Such a claim seems outrageous at face value, however it is more than true. Many of the industries that humanity currently relies on to operate such a consuming capitalistic mechanism are slowly but surely pillaging, polluting and destroying the Earth, the life form we are all intimately linked to and depend upon to survive and thrive. Such nefarious actions include deforestation of the forests for paper, the burning of fossil fuels for energy and agricultural practices that are decimating the soils, killing bee populations and spilling chemicals into the oceans. As it happens, hemp has been proven to offer extremely effective alternatives to these honestly barbaric ways of doing things.

A Prime Resource

According to the World Wildlife Fund 36 football fields worth of trees are deforested every minute. This has accumulated to the decimation of half of the world’s tropical forests. As well as being completely unacceptable, such activity is also strictly unnecessary. According to the Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator, approximately 640 million trees worth of paper is thrown in the trash each year in the United States alone. Hemp is the solution to this problem. Paper can be made from the fibers of the hemp stalk and this paper can be recycled up to 10 times, in comparison to the feeble recycling rate of tree paper which can be reused twice. Also, hemp is ready to harvest and use after a single season, unlike some trees which take lifetimes to grow to maturity and lifetimes to replace.

Hemp also has the capacity to render cotton, a world-wide fabric, useless. Cotton requires large amounts of damaging fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to grow. This is a huge threat to the ecosystem. As well as producing more than double the harvest than cotton per acre, hemp requires almost none of these disastrous chemicals to grow successfully as it is highly resistant to external threats. Hemp is far more durable a material than cotton.

Hemp makes an incredible sustainable building material. UK Hempcrete state:

“A relatively new composite material made from wet-mixing hemp shiv with a lime binder, hempcrete provides a natural, vapour-permeable, airtight insulation material which also has thermal mass, giving it a uniquely effective thermal performance. Using hempcrete in your building creates healthy (chemical-free and damp-free) indoor environments. It is a “better-than-zero-carbon material”, locking away more atmospheric carbon for the lifetime of the building than was emitted during its construction.”

Hemp can also be used to create a form of bio-diesel fuel that is more environmentally friendly than petroleum diesel and its emissions degrade much faster.

The following stats, sourced from, provide in-depth details regarding the benefits of this form of fuel.

  • Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine.
  • It can be stored anywhere that petroleum diesel fuel is stored.
  • Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport because it is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a high flashpoint of about 300°F compared to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 125°F.
  • Biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as hemp.
  • Biodiesel is a proven fuel with over 30 million successful US road miles, and over 20 years of use in Europe.
  • When burned in a diesel engine, biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the pleasant smell of hemp, popcorn or french fries.
  • Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel in the US to complete EPA Tier I Health Effects Testing under section 211(b) of the Clean Air Act, which provide the most thorough inventory of environmental and human health effects attributes that current technology will allow.
  • Biodiesel is 11% oxygen by weight and contains no sulfur.
  • The use of biodiesel can extend the life of diesel engines because it is more lubricating than petroleum diesel fuel, while fuel consumption, auto ignition, power output, and engine torque are relatively unaffected by biodiesel.
  • The Congressional Budget Office, Department of Defense, US Department of Agriculture, and others have determined that biodiesel is the low cost alternative fuel option for fleets to meet requirements of the Energy Policy Act.


Hemp produces a seed that is used throughout the world as a beneficial and nutritional source of food that is often pressed into an oil. Hemp seed could easily be classified as a superfood due to its excellent nutritional profile. It contains high levels of calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium as well as fibre. Hemp seed is provides a complete protein profiile of 21 amino acids, 9 of which are the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce and needs to obtain from an external source. For this reason it is an excellent and sustainable protein source for those following plant-based diets.

Hemp seed also contains good amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are crucial to maintaining optimum health and staving off a host of diseases and health conditions.

Environmental Healing

As well as potentially healing the human, the hemp plant may be the answer to helping heal the Earth from the environmental damage inflicted by our species. Hemp has bio-remediation properties, meaning it can help to remedy and repair the environment. For example hemp has been proven, in laboratory settings, to remove large quantities of heavy metals such as lead from soil. Hemp can also stabilize and enrich the soil and banish them from invasive weeds due to its high and intense canopy, this can spare the use of toxic herbicides.

Cannabis Could be a Medicinal Marval

With the sheer amount of uses that hemp provides it would seem obvious that it would outshine any other plant in its abilities. However its cannabinoid-rich cousin (which, as we have already discussed, is actually the same plant) has perhaps just as many uses, just in a different setting.

Selective breeding has ensured that many cannabis plants are now bustling with beneficial medicinal compounds. There are many active constituents within this healing herb, but the most intriguing and powerful are the cannabinoids. The most famous of which is THC due its psychotropic effects in users. The second most prominent cannabinoid is CBD which is growing massively in popularity due to its medicinal uses.

The reason the body reacts so positively to these molecules is due to an internal system known to science as the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. It is composed of cannabinoid receptors that interact specifically with these substances, as well as cannabinoids found endogenously within the body, known as endocannabinoids.

Smoking cannabis is by far the most widespread way of introducing cannabinoids into our biology. However this medium only scratches the surface of the medicinal potential of the plant and its compounds. Various oils and extracts ensure that the user is able to saturate their body with cannabinoids and thus revel in a more potent result.

Let’s examine some of the science in place that highlights the healing power of this ancient plant. Due to its forbidden nature across the world, many of the research is inconclusive due to the politics involved. However the research that is available is a glimpse into the potential here, and hopefully one day science will be free to analyze this life form in all its totality.


The American government website openly states that cannabinoids display anti-tumor properties, stating: “Cannabinoids may cause anti-tumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumorangiogenesis invasion and metastasis.” 

A study conducted in 2009 at Complutense University in Spain provided evidence that showed THC to have anticancer effects on human brain cancer cells. The molecule achieved this outcome via a process known as autophagy which is basically the controlled destruction of cells by the body. 

Another study, published by the American Association for Cancer Research, found that CBD inflicts programmed cell death in breast cancer cells. 

These studies induce huge amounts of hope and potential and are but a minute insight into the emerging science that displays cannabis’ inevitable use against this formidable disease.


A survey conducted at Stanford University found that parents who gave their child CBD-rich cannabis actually saw large improvements in their child’s condition. 18 parents were surveyed, 83% indicated a decrease in seizure frequency with no side effects.

presented at the American Academy of Neurology collected data from 137 people who were administered a drug called Epidiolex, composing of 99% CBD. Large decreases in seizures were seen across the group.


Cannabis is now being considered as a means of treating Alzheimer’s disease based on recent research. A study from the Salk Institute found that THC managed to relieve the inflammation and plaque buildup in lab-grown neurons, these factors are the key contributors to this terrible condition.


Cannabis is one of the most harmless plants in existence and it seems almost impossible to overdose on its active compounds. This fact contributes towards its use as a pain medication, especially considering the sheer amounts of fatalities caused by pharmaceutical pain medications each year.

The following is a quote from

"Survey data indicates that the use of cannabis is common among patients with chronic pain and a majority of patients who use it for this indication report it as being effective. In addition to anecdotal claims, several recent FDA-designed clinical trials report that inhaled marijuana can significantly alleviate neuropathic pain. These include a pair of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials demonstrating that smoking cannabis reduces neuropathy in patients with HIV by more than 30 percent compared to placebo.”


Clinical research from New Mexico demonstrates that smoking marijuana is associated with the reduction in some PTSD symptoms. Results from a recent study show a 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms via cannabis usage.

Researchers stated: “Many PTSD patients report symptom reduction with cannabis, and a clinical trial needs to be done to see what proportion and what kind of PTSD patients benefit, with either cannabis or the main active ingredients of cannabis.” 

The Future is Cannabis

Although differing genetically, hemp and cannabis are literally the same plant in differently adapted forms. Despite draconian efforts to keep this natural technology suppressed and out of the hands of the mass public, things are changing. Cannabis has the potential to dominate the medical spheres once research truly unlocks what it is capable of. In time, hemp will return to its previous position in the limelight as a protective and innovative tool capable of stopping human ignorance in its tracks and forming a symbiotic approach to living side by side with the natural world, instead of trying to force ourselves above it.


  Guest Writer  

Written by: Guest Writer
Occasionally we have guest writers contribute to our blog here at Zamnesia. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, making their knowledge invaluable.

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