Is it Cannabis, Hemp or Marijuana?

When it comes to discussing Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana the topic can be a rather confusing one to navigate our way around, purely down to the scientific naming of the various plants, and the general terms we have adopted for various reasons too.

For us to understand a bit more about these plants and all the different terminology surrounding them, let’s break down and discuss the different names and what they all mean.

Cannabis is a member of the Cannabaceae family of plants. Over the years we have known there to be three primary Cannabis subspecies, known as Cannabis Ruderalis, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa.

Cannabis Ruderalis is the lesser known of the 3 species. It is a smaller, stalkier, hardier plant that is more suited to more inhospitable and harsher climates. It only grows to a couple of feet tall. Ruderalis are an autoflowering subspecies. This means they flower regardless of the light and temperature conditions. This autoflowering starts around 3-4 weeks after planting. And the plant is ready to harvest in total around 7-8 weeks after planting. The name Ruderalis comes from the word Ruderal – meaning something that grows on rubbish or waste land. This name was given as it seems to be a strain that avoided human interference and grows where other cannabis strains cant typically grow.

Cannabis Indica is one of the 2 more commonly known species. It is a shorter bushier plant more suited to arid and mountainous areas such as Afghanistan. It tends to be no more than 5 feet in height, and the leaves are much wider and shorter. The branches are much closer together creating a fuller looking plant. The Flower buds are side denser and bulkier than its counterparts. They take around 6-8 weeks from planting to harvesting.
The indica strains are more commonly known for their relaxing and calming effects.

Cannabis Sativa is where the terminology can become confusing. Not only is Cannabis Sativa the subspecies of cannabis which contains higher percentages of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it is also the scientific name given to the low THC Strain, also known as Hemp or Industrial Hemp.

Cannabis Sativa is the third of the cannabis subspecies. It is the tallest of the 3 subspecies growing as high as 20 feet. Its leaves are thinner and longer, and the branches are farther apart than the other subspecies. The buddy flowers are also longer and thinner and are usually ready to be harvested in around 12-16 weeks.  It’s more commonly grown in warmer climates around the equator. The Sativa strains are more commonly known for a more energetic invigorating high.

With the different properties these plants have, they are often interbred to create hybrid species that are more fit for whatever purpose they are required for, or so that it allows them to be grown in alternative climates.  Many are bred with ruderalis for the autoflowering properties and the hardiness of the plant.

Now we come to Hemp and Marijuana. These 2 terms are becoming more widely discussed with regards to cannabis products and plants. But where do these terms actually fit in?

Hemp is the name given to the types of cannabis that are distinguishable by their lower percentages of THC. It has been categorised as any Cannabis plant to have less than 0.3% THC (dry weight) present. Hemp also typically contains higher concentrations of CBD and other cannabinoids. It is usually grown for its more Industrial uses and is often known as Industrial Hemp for that reason, but in more recent years is being cultivated to create many of the CBD products we see on the shelves and advertised all over the web.

Hemp as discussed before is part of the Sativa subspecies, and is usually grown outdoors quite densely, with a mix of predominantly female and sporadic male plants grown to produce seeds for food use and replanting. The use of hemp is much wider than its lower THC filled counterpart. It tends to be used much more industrially, producing building materials, used to create energy and turned into usable materials such as textiles and plastics.

Marijuana is the name we have adopted for strains of the plant which have a higher percentage of THC. Typically they contain 5-30% THC or more, making them rather potent plants. Marijuana is the form of Cannabis that people have used as a recreational drug, to get the euphoric high associated with THC use.
Marijuana is predominantly from either sativa or indica subspecies however with the selective breeding and creation of hybrids over the years, the subspecies can be more difficult to differentiate than previously.
Nowadays Marijuana is more commonly grown indoors in a controlled environment, and is grown in groups of female only plants. The use of Marijuana is more limited to a few medical products.

The term Marijuana is one that has controversial connotations. It was believed to have been used to negatively associate the Latino Community and cannabis. However the term was used in various forms pre 1900s when this negative connotation began.

Mariguan, Marihuma, Marihuano and Marahuana are all previously used variants.

Although Hemp and Marijuana are known as types of Cannabis, technically they are just the names given to Cannabis due to specific characteristics they are distinguishable by, in this case the levels of THC. This is akin to calling all citrus fruits Sweet or Sour, or categorising Grapes as Red or Green, and only distinguishing them by one singular characteristic. 

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