Last Updated on 3 meses by Plain Jane
Cannabis and hemp flowers come from the same plant, but they’re recognized as entirely different agricultural commodities. While they both offer a range of wellness benefits, only one causes mind-altering effects that could be a risk to users and those around them.
For hemp users, it’s particularly important to make sure you’re using products that fall within legal standards to avoid unwanted attention from the authorities. But because hemp and marijuana look and smell so much alike, people can’t help but wonder — how can you tell the difference between hemp flower and cannabis?
Hemp Flower vs. Marijuana: The Main Difference
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So what exactly sets apart these two hot and often controversial commodities? It all boils down to tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The Cannabis sativa L. plant (where both hemp and marijuana come from) contains a rich blend of cannabinoids that exist exclusively in the plant.
This family of organic compounds extends to over a hundred different varieties, and one of them is THC. According to researchers, THC is the sole cannabinoid responsible for people’s high from using parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant. But they’ve also discovered a loophole.
Through careful cultivation and farming techniques, experts discovered that they could reduce the THC content of Cannabis sativa L. plants to just 0.3% THC or less. So picking up on this development, the government decided that any part of the plant containing 0.3% THC or less would be recognized as hemp.
Conversely, parts of the plant containing even just a hair above that THC limit would be labeled marijuana. They would thus be subject to strict medical and recreational restrictions across the country. However, those restrictions become irrelevant and inapplicable for hemp because it doesn’t cause a high.
The Importance of Telling Them Apart
Why should hemp users, in particular, be concerned with identifying their hemp as hemp? Well, there’s a butt load of reasons. For starters, marijuana is a controlled substance, and its use and possession could get you into trouble, depending on where you live.
Remember that even if your hemp stash contains just a hair above the indicated THC content, it automatically qualifies as marijuana and puts you in a sticky situation. Aside from potentially causing a high, these products also prove a problem in case you run into the authorities.
Like you, law enforcement agents don’t have a method to immediately differentiate hemp from cannabis. So if they happen to come across your hemp stash during a routine search, confiscate it, and send it in for testing only to find that it qualifies as marijuana, you could get into serious trouble.
How to Tell Apart Hemp and Cannabis
Now that we know all the nitty gritty, what can you do to ensure you’re using actual hemp and not its psychoactive cousin? There are a few tactics and tricks that you can try to guarantee the identity of your treasured stash.
Check the Certificates of Analysis
This is why vendors bother to release certificates of analysis or CoAs to their buyers. The document comes from third-party labs and tells buyers of the many different compounds in the product they’re buying. This includes an indication of how much THC the product has.
Always see that you support vendors that release CoAs with their products. But don’t stop there. Take the time to read the certificates. You’d be surprised how many vendors release fake lab reports that don’t reflect the chemistry of the product they tie it to.
Check lot and batch numbers, look into the labs that perform the inspections, and read through all of the details presented to make sure you’ve got a valid CoA to go with your product.
Assess Effects and Benefits
Some people are particularly sensitive to THC, especially those who have used nothing but low-THC hemp strains. When a product contains more THC than your body is accustomed to, you might detect the compound without taking any tests.
Although the experience varies from person to person, most people who are sensitive to THC may encounter a combination of the following effects:
- Cognitive clouding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased appetite
- Thick, pasty saliva
- Excessive drowsiness
- Loss of consciousness
This isn’t an all-exhaustive list, so users can experience effects outside of the ones mentioned here. If you suspect that your hemp stash contains more THC than legally allowed, cease its use immediately and contact your vendor to clarify the quality of the product.
Some users attempt a second, lower dose to see if the culprit is the hemp itself and not something else they were exposed to.
Get Your Own Lab Tests Done
You can send hemp samples to a lab for testing even if you’re not a vendor. However, these tests can cost upwards of $50 for a single sample. But if you want to make doubly sure, then this method provides the most accurate results.
What’s nice about conducting your own lab tests is that you can also compare the results you get to the CoAs provided by the vendor. If both reports arrive at the same findings, then you can rest assured that your chosen vendor walks their talk.
And Now You Know
There are no apparent differences between hemp and marijuana that you can pick up at a glance or a whiff. So you might have to go the extra mile to guarantee that the product you’re using actually qualifies as hemp if you want to avoid all of the intricacies that come with the use and possession of marijuana.
Keep these pointers in mind the next time you restock your hemp stash. This way, you can verify the identity of your haul and shake off any doubt you might have had in the first place.
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