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You Think You Know Hemp?

Written by Jeff Drake
4 · 17 · 17
I thought I’d post this while I am continuing my extensive research into medical marijuana (part deux), since the topics will soon become related in my blog. The title is meant more for me than any of you reading this, so don’t get your hackles up as you exclaim, “Hell yeah, I know all about hemp!” Be prepared, though, you may not know as much as you think.

I’ve been smoking weed for well over 40 years, but I am still learning things about this remarkable plant species. Over the course of my lifetime, I have also learned a number of myths about cannabis and I’ve been exposed recently to new myths specifically surrounding medical marijuana. I thought I’d dispel at least one myth about hemp that is fairly common:

Myth:  Hemp is simply the male cannabis plant. Everyone knows that!

Sorry, not so fast folks! While it’s true that hemp and both medical and recreational marijuana are all members of the same cannabis genus (i.e., Cannabaceae, a type of nettle), hemp is differentiated from its two siblings by three things primarily, none of which has anything to do with the sex of the plant:

  1. Its name. Cannabis that is grown and used for industrial purposes is called “hemp”, or “industrial hemp”; while cannabis that gets us high is usually referred to as “marijuana” (or our other favorite pet names for it, like “pot” or “ganja”). This is purely a semantic difference of convenience.
  2. It’s chemical makeup. Hemp is non-psychoactive and lacks any discernible amount of the chemical component in cannabis that gets you high i.e., THC (hemp is < 1%; recreational and medical marijuana can be => 25%).
  3. The reasons for cultivation. Due to the differences in chemical makeup, hemp is primarily only grown for industrial uses (e.g., rope, clothing, etc.), whereas marijuana is cultivated for both recreational and medical uses. [NOTE: There are medical marijuana products that are made from the chemical component (CBD) of hemp, so there are medical exceptions. These terms and this topic will all be discussed in the near future in my medical marijuana blog.]

Another related myth that can be busted here is the one that says if you only smoked enough hemp you could still get high from it. It’s just a matter of quantity. Uh, no, that is not right. You could sit down and smoke a haystack of hemp and you will NOT get high. Nope. Not ever. It just doesn’t have enough of the magic ingredient, THC.

And because we now know that hemp contains only very small trace amounts of THC, we can also say that the myth that eating hemp seeds will cause you to fail a drug test is totally bogus! Hemp is a wonderful super food, so eat up, it’s okay! It’s good for you!

Last, but not least – hemp plants can be either male or female (both in some special cases). (Really, how do people think these plants spread without some kind of sex? LOL!). However, it is only the female hemp plants that are grown to harvest, as the male plants die soon after pollination. Perhaps a misunderstanding about this points to the origins of this myth? Likewise, it is only the female marijuana plants that people smoke.

Females. You gotta love ‘em! And I do!

Let us know what you think…



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Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.