We've spent many years being told and believing that weed was a substance that could or would cause some sort of chaos in our lives. Now with marijuana being sold recreationally, hemp products hitting the shelves and the industry booming, it may be a little confusing to understand where this all came from. How on earth can a product from weed, that was so illegal for 59 years, now all of a sudden be good for us?
This burning question comes from the complexity of the cannabis plant. You can’t think of cannabis as marijuana, weed, or reefer that we smoke and get high from anymore. You must think of it not only as a beautiful flower that has many positive uses in the medicinal and nutritional world, but also as a sustainable source in many industries.
Let's quickly break down some of marijuana's history in America:
- Around the 1830s, before cannabis was prohibited, Europeans and Anglo-Americans (Merriam Webster Dictionary describes an Anglo-American as being an inhabitant of the U.S. of English origin or descent) had been very aware of the medicinal purposes of cannabis. So much so that cannabis extracts were able to be purchased by Europeans and Americans around the late 19th Century. History.com states doctors and pharmacies would prescribe and sell these extracts to aid in ailments like migraines, stomach aches, insomnia, and inflammation.
- The fear partially began when Mexicans immigrated to America just after the Mexican Revolution. As smoking weed was something Mexicans would partake in, along with foreigners entering the country, fear grew. In 1994, The Atlantic published an article claiming Texas police saw that “marijuana incited violent crimes, aroused a ‘lust for blood,’ and gave its users ‘superhuman strength.’ Rumors spread that Mexicans were distributing this ‘killer weed’ to unsuspecting American schoolchildren,” and the fear-mongering went into overdrive.
- On top of this fear, while cannabis was the initial term used on medicines that civilians would purchase openly. Drug Policy Alliance describes Mexicans referring to cannabis as marihuana. Being a foreign name to locals, the media spun the words around to insight fear into how this ‘Mexican tradition’ would affect their everyday lives.
- Drug Policy Alliance continues on stating it was now apparent the “demonization of the cannabis plant was an extension of the demonization of the Mexican immigrants.” There was more reason than ever to search for Mexican immigrants with the hopes of detaining and deporting them.
- Jumping to the 1930s where you can find fear and rumors spreading uncontrollably. To the point where it was said that Mexicans, the black community, and lower-class people who were smoking marijuana for pleasure could assault, harm, or attack upper-class white women according to Time.
- When the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was established, The U.S. Customs Border Control states it would regulate the ”importation, cultivation, possession and/or distribution of marijuana. Among the act's provisions as requiring importers to register and pay an annual tax of $24.”In the big picture, this act only stopped the use of recreational cannabis. However, unfortunately, we saw that hemp was grouped into this anti-dope legislation and it became difficult for industrial hemp to continue thriving.
- Suddenly, research and testing of cannabis disappeared. Drug Policy Alliance says The Controlled Substance Act, which replaced the controversial and unconstitutional Marijuana Tax Act in the 1970s, saw cannabis as the “most restrictive category, Schedule I.”
- Drug Policy Alliance continues on to state that despite the Schafer Commission stating that cannabis was not a Schedule I substance. Nixon “discounted the recommendations of the commission." Therefore nothing was altered and cannabis continued on as a Schedule I substance. Restricting cannabis is just as hard as narcotics with new laws in place.
Essentially, cannabis was misconstrued as a substance that could cause major harm. When in fact, even the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration fact sheet states that “No death from an overdose of marijuana [cannabis] has been reported.” That doesn’t mean there aren’t drug-like effects that can be caused by smoking cannabis, but it does mean there is a lot more to it than just simply a drug that delivers a high.
While cannabis or marijuana can still make some people a little nervous, hemp's safety has been recognized around the country. Very Well Health confirms this by stating, “According to the FDA, some hemp products, including hemp seeds, hemp seed protein powder, and hempseed oil are safe for food, and therefore there is no need for special legislation regarding legalization.”
Hemp VS. Marijuana
First and foremost, there is a major difference in the components of hemp and marijuana. In the cannabis plant, while there are around 120 components, specifically two of these are more well known and better understood. These are THC and CBD.
Healthline describes both as being:
- CBD: This is a psychoactive cannabinoid, yet it’s non-intoxicating and non-euphoric, meaning it won’t get you “high.” It’s often used to help reduce inflammation and pain. It may also ease upset stomach, stress, migraines, and is the active ingredient in the pharmaceutical, Epidiolex, which is FDA-approved for seizures. Researchers are still trying to understand the effectiveness of CBD’s medical use.
- THC: This is the main psychoactive and intoxicating compound in cannabis. THC is responsible for the “high” that most people associate with cannabis.
Furthermore, THC is found in marijuana and CBD is found in hemp. If we wanted to dig a little further, then we can say there is a moderate amount of THC in some hemp, but not enough to give you a high. The 2018 Farm Bill shape shows that farmers are strictly regulated to only have 0.3% THC or below to sell their hemp crops to manufacturers.
Will you find marijuana products in stores? Not in everyday stores like supermarkets or pharmacies. You will find marijuana aka high THC cannabis sold in dispensaries across 18 states in the U.S. These local stores are government regulated and extremely safe. You are able to walk in and speak to professionals on which strains can work best for you and even how much you should be smoking.
On the other hand, hemp has come back into our lives full force and is continuing to grow drastically. With 5,000 years of medicinal use before us and modern research taking control, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. More and more facts about the amazing benefits of hemp are continuously emerging year after year. Hemp is suitable to aid as an incredible medicinal and nutritional source. We can start to find hemp products in supermarkets, pharmacies, health food stores, and even supplement stores. Without any high effects involved, you can consume the products every day and see the immense benefits they could potentially offer to your overall health.
While you may want to sit on the couch, binge-watch some shows and chow down on some epic snacks with cannabis, you could also start your day with a hearty dose of CBD from hemp. It's simple to remember, the THC in marijuana or cannabis can get you high and the CBD in hemp is used to help your body and mind.
It's funny now to think the world was, and in some cases still is, afraid of a flower. While there may be some pretty big differences between marijuana and hemp, we can still see their benefits in our lives. Not only in our bodies but out in the world. With more research will come more opportunities and we’re excited to see what's to come.
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