Hemp vs. Weed: What Is the Difference Between Hemp & Medical Cannabis?

Cannabis has been used for a variety of health conditions for thousands of years. Today, a growing number of states within the United States allow the use of cannabis for medical reasons, with 32 states currently allowing home cultivation of cannabis, purchase of cannabis from dispensaries, or both.

Medical cannabis, also known as marijuana, is recommended to patients by their doctors. A growing body of research supports the use of cannabis for medical purposes, with some studies showing that is can help with a variety of health ailments.

So far, these studies on the medicinal value and therapeutic potential of cannabis have been small, and the national government still considers cannabis to be illegal. However, the legality of medical cannabis is decided by each state for their own residents.

While some states outlaw cannabis completely, for both medical and recreational purposes, others have made it legal for use by certain types of patients and approaches to who qualifies for a medical cannabis recommendation differ by state. Specific information on state medical marijuana laws can be found here:http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx.

Medical cannabis is sometimes confused with hemp since both are considered to have therapeutic benefits by some people. Both contain compounds called cannabinoids, the most well-known of which are CBD and THC. CBD is believed by some to have the highest medicinal value of any cannabinoid, and THC (the chemical compound that gives the ‘high’ that cannabis is known for) is the only cannabinoid to have psychoactive effects.

Medical cannabis, or marijuana, contains both CBD and a THC level over 0.3%, while hemp has CBD but only tiny, negligible amounts of THC. It is this difference in THC levels that separates medical cannabis from hemp.

So, because hemp contains the beneficial compound CBD without being accompanied by the intoxicating compound THC, it available to a much wider variety of consumers than medical cannabis. CBD is considered by some to provide many health benefits, without the mind-altering effects. Put simply, CBD is the “decaf” cannabis product. This makes hemp popular as both a food and as a health or beauty product. Hemp and CBD products, like hemp balm, are widely available throughout the United States, and millions use them every day to gain their health benefits.

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