Hemp is an amazing plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is incredibly versatile and valuable, but it is also incredibly controversial as well. When most people think about hemp, a picture of marijuana pops into their head because these two plants are often confused as the same product. Hemp products, such as clothing or purses, is not made of a material that is illegal to own, nor is it made of anything that can get you high. That is only marijuana.
The smoking of female marijuana buds (or flowers) will cause the smoker to become high, but the same procedure with hemp won't have that effect. There is less than a single percent of THC within hemp, while the female of the marijuana plant has 10-20% of THC. The THC is what gives the person smoking the marijuana the high. Male plants are solely used for marijuana seed production. The hemp plant and the marijuana plant look different and both plants are harvested in different ways. A marijuana plant is usually short with a bushy appearance. The females of the species grow buds and flowers that have orange or white hairs, known as pistils, and they develop THC crystals. Hemp plants, on the other hand, are quite tall (up to 25'), have small flowers, and get covered in a pollen that holds the seeds. Marijuana has many fewer uses than hemp, which can be used to manufacture over 25,000 products. You can find hemp bird food, diapers, insulation, perfume, conditioner, paper and carpeting. Rope is also a common use for hemp, and it does not rot, making it more useful than traditional rope. Hemp can also be used as a highly digestible food, allowing you to have a happier and healthier life.
Many people confuse hemp and marijuana. People who are focused on legalizing hemp often refer to the uses and lack of pesticide requirements when trying to prove their side of the debate. People who are focused on the opposing side, however, usually refer to their worry that marijuana would soon be legalized as well due to the same plant being the basis for both. There are also opponents who say other materials can be more cheaply made than hemp, but that argument is easily disproved. The cultivation of hemp is still illegal within the United States, but hemp is still being imported in many different forms, including food. Marijuana cultivation is supposed to be illegal due to the health effects, but this argument is quickly fading as well with all of the proven health benefits that many studies have found. The argument is now that the benefits that could come from marijuana legalization may not outweigh the concerns that intoxication brings up. These effects, however, have been proven to be much less than that of someone who drinks alcohol or smokes a cigarette. Most debates concerning the legalization of marijuana end up being the same arguments that are used for hemp legalization, but we have to keep in mind that these products are simply not the same.
The biggest thing they have in common (and the biggest reason for the confusion) is the fact that both plants are different varieties of the same plant: the Cannabis Sativa. Hemp is grown legally in 29 different countries world-wide, with China, Russia and Korea leading the production. In the United States, however, it is not legal to grow marijuana or hemp. You can own products made of hemp that's why you find hemp-based products on store's shelves. The aroma of both plants is quite similar when blooming, but marijuana is the only plant with enough THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to make a person high. The traces contained within the hemp plant are not enough to cause a traditional "high".