Marijuana, Cannabis, or Hemp – What’s the Difference?

In this blog you will see me flip back and forth with the words Cannabis, Medical, Cannabis, Marijuana and Medical Marijuana. I’m just letting you know right now that they all mean the same in my mind, and you shouldn’t read anything else into it. I also call it pot or weed, so don’t read into that either. The only term I use that you may relate to marijuana and means something different to me is the word hemp. To myself, and many others, the hemp plant, although a cannabis sativa, is something very different.

Young cannabis hybrid flower.

Young cannabis hybrid flower.

Marijuana has always had nicknames, or, as those in the botanical world refers to them, “common names”, and even those vary from region to region and evolve with time, but in my mind,

hemp is a cannabis sativa strain with low or negligible THC content, and is the plant used for rope, oil, paper, cloth, bird seed and other industrial products.

Marijuana is the plant with a higher THC content that is used for medicinal purpose or for recreation. The US Government had lumped them all together when they were all basically outlawed starting in 1937, and there they remain today – outlaws together. My preference for the medicinal/recreational plants is the word cannabis, as that is it’s botanical genus. The name marijuana came into use when people were trying to wipe it out of America, and it was meant to evoke negative feelings, playing on anti-Mexican sentiment at that time in U.S. history.

Some things never change, but I’m pretty sure the word marijuana is here to stay and will outlive the negative connotation it was meant to invoke. Some people in the medicinal marijuana community would prefer that we all refer to the plant, (cannabis saliva, cannabis, indica, cannabis ruderalis), as cannabis, but that is unlikely to happen any time soon. In New Mexico it has been decided to call it cannabis, as in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program.



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