The cannabis sativa L. plant encompasses both industrial hemp and marijuana. The main difference between marijuana and hemp would be that marijuana typically contains a significant proportion (10% – 20%) of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Hemp contains only trace amounts (0.9% or less) of THC, but contains the active cannabinoid known as cannabidiol (CBD). Both species are vastly underutilized and terribly misunderstood.
Cannabis and hemp have been part of history since recorded times. Industrial hemp has over 55,000 known uses from textiles to food from the nutritious hemp seed, to building and construction materials, to bio-plastics that actually biodegrade and on to hemp-based bio-fuels. If we were to switch over from an oil-based society to a hemp-based society, the value of all the potential hemp products would be well into the trillions of dollars. Last year the US imported over $500 million worth of hemp products.
The illegal black market in the US for marijuana has been estimated at $110 billion. The more “legal” medicinal cannabis marketplace has been estimated at $1.7 billion last year. Both the hemp and marijuana / cannabis markets are fragmented. Although over 30 of the world’s top industrialized countries allow hemp to be grown, it still remains illegal in the US – a carryover from the stigma created back in the 1930’s. Many countries and an increasing number of US States have recognized / legalized “medical marijuana” so slowly the tide is shifting as research shows there are benefits for certain patients who use medicinal cannabis.
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