At Covenant Hills, we are frequently asked to explain the difference between hemp and marijuana. Many people associate the word ‘hemp’ with marijuana and are confused to see consumer products labeled with ‘hemp’ in grocery stores. Understanding the difference between hemp and marijuana can help you or someone you love seek effective treatment to make healthier decisions in daily life.
It is important to note that there are parts of the cannabis sativa plant that differentiate between hemp and marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “hemp and marijuana are both names for the cannabis sativa plant, but people usually use these terms to talk about two different varieties of the plant.” Although some people refer to the cannabis sativa plant as both hemp and marijuana, they each serve a distinct function and derive from a different type of the plant.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is another name for cannabis sativa, the plant that is also associated with marijuana. According to research, hemp is used in the production of seeds and fibre, and contains very low levels of THC. THC is the component in marijuana that elicits the feelings of euphoria and negatively impacts the structure of the brain over prolonged periods of marijuana use.
According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, ‘industrial hemp’ refers to “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part or derivative of such plant, including seeds of such plant, whether growing or not, that is used exclusively for industrial purposes (fiber and seed) with a tetrahydrocannabinols concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” Because hemp does not contain as many chemicals that produce the ‘high’ sensation that marijuana elicits, it has been approved in consumer products. This is referred to as ‘industrial hemp’ and it takes the form of fiber, seed, oil and transformed into food, construction, and health products. Examples of these products include rope, paper, wax, cloth, shampoo, soap, and body lotion. 
The industrial hemp that has extremely low levels of THC is legal and is approved for production and sale by state agricultural departments.
What is Marijuana?
In contrast to hemp, marijuana contains the THC component that elicits the “high” sensation and is referred to as an illicit drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana “refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.” The marijuana portion of the cannabis sativa plant tends to be the flowery upper portion of the actual plant.
When marijuana is smoked, it may have harmful effects on an individual’s memory, thinking, and behavior. When smoked, marijuana releases THC that acts on multiple cell receptors in the brain that are responsible for normal brain functioning. In recent years, THC has increased in marijuana leaves, from a range of 1%-4% to 7%. These increased levels of THC may make it easier for individuals to become addicted to the drug.
The Dangers of Marijuana
Marijuana can cause a multitude of health problems that include an increased heart rate, impaired movements and learning, and if chronically smoked, can cause bronchitis and an increased risk for other types of drug and alcohol addictions.
Research indicates that “marijuana smoke also contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke and produces high levels of an enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into malignant cells.” It is evident that the use of marijuana is linked to multiple health problems and may increase a person’s risk of getting cancer.
In addition to the dangerous effects marijuana can have on multiple parts of a person’s body, it can also lead to hard drug abuse. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, law enforcement officials have found that most heroin and cocaine addicts have often started their initial drug use with marijuana.
Understanding this paramount difference between hemp and marijuana as well as the harmful effects of marijuana use can help you or someone you love seek effective treatment.
Taking Early Action
Understanding that it is safe to use consumer products containing hemp is a pivotal component to understanding the difference between hemp and the harmful effects that can be caused by marijuana. Although the effects of marijuana appear to be harmless in the face of popular media, marijuana has proven to have harmful effects on the brain and can lead to hard drug abuse. Taking early action and seeking spiritual guidance can help individuals avoid or overcome their addiction to marijuana.
Many people use marijuana as a self-medicating tool to cope with mental health related illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, or to escape from painful emotions. The professionally trained staff at Covenant Hills is highly experienced in a wide-range of marijuana addiction cases. Whether patients solely abuse marijuana, have a co-occurring disorder, or have hard drug addiction, the devoted staff is fully equipped in helping restore faith and health in every individual.
Covenant Hills focuses on a Christian-based treatment plan that is individually designed to meet the needs of all patients. If you or someone you love is using marijuana and is showing signs of mental health related problems or hard drug use and addiction, it is absolutely vital to seek immediate treatment. If you or a loved one needs help, call today for a free evaluation at (800) 662-2873. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/what-is-hemp  https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana  https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/marijuana-use-and-its-effects?page=2  https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana/there-link-between-marijuana-use-psychiatric-disorders  https://www.dea.gov/pubs/pressrel/pr042605.html