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by George Mouratidis, Industrial Hemp Farms There are many ways to classify cannabis variants, but the most popular distinction is between hemp and marijuana. Although most of us take these classifications for granted, perhaps you’ve wondered if they are really legit? Put another way: are there real genetic and anatomical differences between marijuana and hemp? And, if so, what are they? The hemp/marijuana classification is still a major debate within the cannabis community.

To better understand the complexity of the hemp v. marijuana classification, let’s quickly go through a primer on the cannabis genus. Afterward, we’ll take a closer look at the differences often associated with hemp v. marijuana and why these terms have gained such prominence. The first thing we should clear up is that the word “cannabis” is reserved for the plant genus.

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For many years, botanists have categorized the cannabis genus into the following three groups: Cannabis sativa Cannabis indica Cannabis ruderalis Of these three, sativa and indica are probably the most familiar to you. Usually, cannabis connoisseurs draw the sativa v. indica distinction to help differentiate the physiological effects of each strain.

It’s important to remember, however, that sativas and indicas were first split up due to their flowering patterns and features. Here are just a few of the key distinctions often ascribed to these two cannabis variants: Short Fat leaves Fast-growing Enjoys mild climate Tall Thin leaves Slow-growing Enjoys a humid climate Ruderalis is a shrub-like variety of cannabis that evolved in harsh northern environments.

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Cultivators nowadays cross-breed ruderalis strains with indicas, sativas, or hybrids to create what are known as “autoflowering seeds.” These auto varieties are convenient due to their predictable flowering period, but they tend to have fewer cannabinoids than standard sativas or indicas. Most often new cannabis cultivators use auto seeds to gain valuable growing experience.

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marijuana distinction on top of all these cannabis varieties? A short answer is that drawing the line between hemp and marijuana helps a lot in the legal department. You see, hemp is legally defined as a substance containing less than 0. 3 percent of the high-inducing compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana, on the other hand, could have 0.

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Obviously, this makes it a lot easier for legal authorities to categorize what is and what is not legal. As of today, the U.S. legalized hemp at a federal level, but marijuana laws vary by state. This all doesn’t mean that the hemp v. marijuana distinction was arbitrarily drawn up to help legislators.

3 percent benchmark was pretty arbitrary, however, it’s true that hemp naturally produces less THC than marijuana strains. But there’s more to this story than just THC. Now that the CBD market has skyrocketed, it’s often hard for us to imagine non-edible uses of hemp. However, for most of human history, hemp has been cultivated strictly for industrial purposes.

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Amazingly, hemp is now showing great potential in a variety of fields including papers, plastics, cosmetics, and even fuel. Marijuana, on the other hand, has always been associated with recreational and medical use. Growers who cultivated marijuana were always interested in maximizing certain terpene and cannabinoid profiles for their chosen strain.

Growing hemp for industrial purposes is far more interested in quantity rather than quality. Marijuana cultivation, on the other hand, requires a greater degree of care and attention to detail. Industrial hemp cultivators could often get away with planting their male and female seeds in rather tough environments. Professional marijuana cultivators, on the other hand, need to focus a lot of attention on making their environment hospitable for female seeds.

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With that in mind, it’s still quite useful for cultivators to distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana to better plan their growth cycle. Now we know how hemp and marijuana differ in THC content, growth features, and traditional uses… but do they look different? To the untrained eye, mature hemp and marijuana might appear to be the same.

There are, however, a few key anatomical differences to look out for. For instance, hemp plants are generally taller than most varieties of marijuana. Remember that many cultivators are interested in hemp’s fibrous stalks, which is why they’ve bred them to grow as tall as possible. In addition to their height, hemp plants also tend to have thinner fan leaves compared with most strains of marijuana.

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Marijuana plants, on the other hand, tend to have more leaves evenly spread throughout their branches. After reading the above description, you might understandably conclude that hemp strains might lean more towards the sativa side. After all, sativas are typically associated with tall height and thin leaves. While this makes logical sense, recent genetic research is changing how we think about the sativa v.