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What is the difference between Hemp, Marijuana and Cannabis?

November 05, 2019

What is the difference between Hemp, Marijuana and Cannabis in New Zealand?

New Zealand Hemp and Marijuana... One has been alleviating pain for centuries, while the other has a tendency to get you arrested.

We know which one we'd choose right now. But what is the difference? Why is one currently okay to use daily and the other isn't? And why is there so much confusion?

Hemp VS Marijuana

Well, it all starts with the fact that they both are part of the Cannabis plant family...

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Ask anyone in New Zealand if oranges, lemons and limes are the same thing. Most people who have ever seen and tasted all three will know that, while they're all fruits of the citrus variety, they are definitely different plants.

It would be impossible to grow an orange on a lemon tree (although they may look very similar while they're ripening).

Hemp is to marijuana what oranges are to lemons - same family but distinctly different plants.

In the Cannabis family, New Zealand Hemp is the sensible older sister who is always there when you need her. Marijuana, on the other hand, is the younger sister who likes to party and means well, but mostly just gets you in trouble.

Unfortunately, they've been lumped together for the past 100 years, but there is one huge difference...

The THC Content in Hemp and Marijuana

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THC is the chemical in Marijuana that gets you high. In some strains, THC makes up to 20% of the weight in a sample. That's a heck of a lot of THC!

However, to be classified as "Hemp", the cannabis strains have to have less than 0.3% THC content.

That makes Hemp more than 66 times weaker than Marijuana on the THC scale.  Even if you had a superhuman lung capacity and could smoke a whole field of hemp, you still wouldn't get high.

So although the two plants are related, hemp products contain only trace levels of THC and will not cause a psychoactive effect. 

According to the North American Industrial Hemp Council, Hemp has been incorrectly and unfairly treated the same as Marijuana under law, which is why there is so much confusion.

But now, things are starting to change.

Hemp is used for all kinds of things

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Thanks to Hemp being one of the easiest crops to grow, it is the world's most sustainable plant - it does not deplete the soil and requires much less water than other crops to thrive. 

Thanks to its diverse makeup and sustainability, Hemp is used all over the world to make food, textiles and even building materials. 

Marijuana, on the other hand, is used to make medicine and get people high...

Why the confusion between Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana?

Why is cannabis illegal in New Zealand?

People regularly confuse Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana. This is no accident.

The “Reefer Madness” campaigns of the 1930s led to the criminalisation of all forms of cannabis, including hemp. This was financed by industrialists who wished to discredit hemp, as it was threatening their profits from cotton and other textiles.

Through a variety of propaganda campaigns, private interests succeeded in convincing people that Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana were all the same thing – evil substances that would get your kids “high”, make you go crazy and wreck your life.

That’s why the whole Cannabis plant family was banned and the war on drugs began.

But, as we've mentioned, something has to contain psychoactive substances if it's going to get you "high".

Fortunately/Unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, Hemp has such low levels of THC, it will never get you high.

You could take 45 drops of NZ Hempress Oil every day for 10 days, and still pass a drug test. (Trust us, we tried it.)

So why use Hemp Oil? 

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People have been using the cannabis plant, in all its different forms, for centuries.

One of its biggest benefits is its ability to help activate and support the endocannabinoid system.  You can read more about the endocannabinoid system and the benefits of waking it up on our blog.

Full Spectrum Hemp Oil has many beneficial cannabinoid chemicals that Marijuana has, but with very little of the THC that makes it a problematic daily medicine.