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What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a term derived from the Mexican-Spanish word for Cannabis sativa, “marihuana”. The word “marijuana” came into popular use in the 1930s, when Harry Jacob Anslinger used it to describe (and demonize) cannabis. However, the term marijuana has now become commonplace, and medical marijuana or marijuana is used throughout the US. Other common slang terms for marijuana include pot, ganja, weed, herb, grass, bud and Mary Jane.

The definition of “marijuana” differs from country-to-country, but is usually used to denote psychoactive, THC-rich cannabis. The term “hemp” is used for non-psychoactive cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC. Another way to differentiate between hemp and marijuana is that marijuana is usually grown for its flower, whereas hemp is grown for its fibrous stalk. Since the CBD (cannabidiol) explosion, hemp is increasingly being grown for its flower as well.

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Cannabis; marijuana; grow room; pot; hemp; indoor; green.
From: https://pixabay.com/en/marijuana-grow-room-cannabis-hemp-1281542/
By tdfugere.

What’s the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

Both hemp and marijuana are Cannabis sativa, and the distinction is mostly a legal one than a strictly scientific one. An increasing number of people and companies are growing hemp in order to make CBD-rich products that can be sold legally throughout the US and most of the world. You cannot legally do the same with marijuana, even if what you end up with has very little THC in it and is all CBD. This has made hemp an attractive option for farmers, and comes with far less of the legal hassle associated with marijuana.

Marijuana can be smoked by using rolling papers (joints), cigar papers (blunts), pipes or water pipes (bongs). Marijuana can also be eaten or infused into drinks. The most common types of cannabis edibles are sweet treats like brownies, candies or cookies. Marijuana is available in oil-based tinctures (usually olive or coconut oil) for a healthier and less hard-hitting but still potent alternative to edibles and smoking. Vaporizers and vape pens have also started to replace smoking, but care should still be taken and only high-quality vape goods should be purchased – you do not want lung damage.

Marijuana is also used to make extracts like hashish & hash oil, budder, rosin and shatter. These extracts are made by separating the resin and trichomes (the tiny hairs on cannabis flower) from the rest of the plant to create a concentrated form of cannabis that is full of cannabinoids. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is one such example of a cannabis extract/concentrate.

Hemp, cannabis sativa plants growing outdoors.
Cannabis sativa plants. Hemp. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cannabis_sativa_001.JPG. Author: H. Zell. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Is There a Difference Between Marijuana and Medical Marijuana?

No, there is no real difference between marijuana and medical marijuana, except that a person using medical marijuana is using it explicitly for a particular health problem in a manner similar to how they would use other medications, i.e. in certain dosages at particular times of day. A non-medical marijuana user is unlikely to have such concerns in mind.

Some people use the term medical marijuana to refer to CBD-rich cannabis that is not intoxicating but, as THC can be used for medical purposes (e.g. to treat nausea/vomiting associated with cancer & chemotherapy, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis (MS), insomnia, PTSD), this is not an accurate definition. Both THC- and CBD- rich cannabis can be used medically.

Legal hemp plant growing outside.
Hemp plants. Author: Attercop311. From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hemp.JPG. Public Domain picture.

How Legal is Marijuana?

In most countries the world over, marijuana is not legal, with the exception of Canada and Uruguay. In the US, some individual states have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medical purposes, but it is still federally illegal. Even in states where marijuana is legal, it is arguable that having a valid medical marijuana card is the best way for patients to access the medication they need without too much harassment from law enforcement.

Those who are looking to use cannabis for medical purposes and want to do it as legally as possible are advised to get certified by a licensed medical marijuana physician.

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Written by
Dipak Hemraj
Dipak Hemraj - Chief Research Officer

Dipak Hemraj is a published author, grower, product maker, and Leafwell’s resident cannabis expert. From botany & horticulture to culture & economics, he wishes to help educate the public on why cannabis is medicine (or a “pharmacy in a plant”) and how it can be used to treat a plethora of health problems. Dipak wants to unlock the power of the plant, and see if there are specific cannabinoid-terpene-flavonoid profiles suitable for different conditions.

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