The difference between industrial hemp & marijuana
Although industrial hemp is a cousin of the psychotropic dagga (marijuana), it is cultivated in totally different ways.
Typically the industrial varieties of hemp have less than 1% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana), while smoking-grade cannabis has anything from 5 to 25%. Smoking industrial hemp will give you nothing more than a headache.
CBD vs THC
- Marijuana is high in THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, and low in Cannabidiol (CBD) which has been shown to have anti-psychotic effects. Hemp is CBD dominant, and as CBD counteracts the effects of THC, this is another reason why you can’t get high from hemp.
- It is easy to see just by looking at a field what the intended use of the crop is.
- If it is being cultivated for seed, there will be more space between plants leading to more flowers, but there will also be male plants in the field order to pollinate the female flowers. This will produce flowers full of high-protein and EFA-rich seeds at harvest time.
- If it is being grown for fibre, there are over 200 plants per square metre. This forces the plants to compete to for sunlight and grow straight up, often up to 3 or 4 metres high in 4 months. This will produce the desired long, strong fibres in the stalk.
- If it is being grown for its psychoactive value, the plants are well spaced out and generally kept to a shorter shrub shape, with many flowers. All males would be eradicated from the field to prevent seeds, as THC production slows down once the flowers have been pollinated, and smokers do not want seeds in their cannabis.
Conclusion … or is it just the beginning? Industrial hemp has a huge amount to offer South Africa. We know the plant will thrive in our climate, and we have the potential to become a world leader in this industry. With the correct implementation and regulations, a hemp industry will help address economic, environmental and social issues.
Alone, hemp is not the solution to all the planets ills, but is rather part of a growing trend, towards sustainable responsible living that could ultimately lead to a reverse in global warming and a greener, healthier planet.