When the Nixon administration feared the spread of dangerous drugs across the United States, they implemented legislation that was, more or less, a blanket ban on all substances they did not fully understand. Hemp was caught up in this sweep due to its similarities to marijuana, another species of cannabis. Studies today suggest, however, that the two are much more different than previously thought.
To get a better understanding of why some organizations want to decriminalize hemp and marijuana alike, you should take a closer look at their similarities and differences.
- THC levels: Perhaps more important than any other aspects of these two plants, hemp has trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) while marijuana has noticeable levels of this compound. This means that smoking hemp will produce no recognizable euphoric or psychoactive sensations – in layman’s terms, you cannot get “high” off hemp.
- Recreational uses: Unlike hemp, the THC levels present in marijuana leave the plant open to arguably harmless recreational use. People may smoke or otherwise ingest small portions of the plant to experience a temporary effect. Many experts argue that this can reduce stress and is non-addictive.
- Medicinal applications: Even though marijuana produces slightly less cannabidiol (CBD) than hemp, both seem to be able to be used in medicine for positive effects. Studies suggest CBD can be used to treat anxiety, tremors, and other mental disorders. Furthermore, a high concentration of CBD may actually reduce the effects of THC, potentially allowing hemp-based medicines to work without any risk of side-effects.
- Traditional uses: There are more than 20,000 traditional uses for hemp, including the creation of strong, military-grade fabrics, providing ample bedding and feed for animals, and even insulating the inside of automobiles. Marijuana does not seem to have these applications, and yet both are facing the same bans.
- Cultivation: All across the world, the growth of cannabis is usually strictly illegal. Hemp, on the other hand, is grown freely in multiple countries around the globe and its end products are imported in mass quantities to America, usually to be sold illegally on the internet. It could be argued that if at least hemp cultivation was legalized in the States, it would open up hundreds of job opportunities in rural areas.
Two Different Drugs, One Harsh Legal Ban
The truth of the matter is that there are useful purposes to both marijuana and hemp, and yet both have been outlawed. This legislation verges on discriminatory, as it does not take into consideration empirical evidence or changing impressions of the scientific community. Because some states, including Pennsylvania, are currently drafting bills that would decriminalize medical marijuana use, it is also important to consider the total decriminalization of hemp.
To learn more about these substances and the laws surrounding them, you can contact our hemp lawyers at Sacks Weston LLC. Based out of Philadelphia, we are working closely with the American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH) to fight for the proper medical use of marijuana in Pennsylvania. We are prepared to counsel or represent any individual or company in matters involving medical cannabis or hemp – just call us at (215) 764-3008 and request your free case evaluation today.