Planting Seeds: Important Differences in the Cannabis Plant Between Marijuana, Hemp, CBD, and THC

Planting Seeds: Important Differences in the Cannabis Plant Between Marijuana, Hemp, CBD, and THC

Since hemp was legalized in 2018, CBD garnered a reputation of nearly “magical” healing powers, with rumors it treats everything from multiple sclerosis to acne.

As with all things, if something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.

Any perceived benefit comes with much less talked about risks such as purchasing a product that has little to no CBD in it or worse yet, too much THC landing a positive drug test with an employer.

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill as well as various forms of legalization of marijuana across the country, Cannabis as a whole has been thrust into the mainstream. This hasn’t given consumers time to learn what the various aspects of Cannabis are and what any health benefit/risk or long term consequences might be. To make informed decisions and to have smart conversations about the various forms of Cannabis, education is the first step.

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Cannabis is a genus of flowering plant in the family of Cannabaceae. Hemp plants and marijuana plants are both part of the same species. Legally, hemp is defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent or less THC, while marijuana is a cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 percent THC. CBD can be derived from both hemp and marijuana plants.

Marijuana is associated with getting high and it’s commonly referred to as weed, pot, and a host of other names, but they are all the same substance. It is illegal to possess, use or sell marijuana in Wyoming at any age. Some cannabis related prescriptions are available at pharmacies with a prescription from a licensed practitioner.

Hemp comes from the same Cannabaceae plant family as marijuana. Cannabis has long been used for hemp fibre, hemp seeds and oils. Industrial hemp can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, rope, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed. According to Powell Chief of Police Roy Eckerdt, outside of requiring hemp growers and processors to obtain licenses, there are few state regulations regarding purchasing, selling or consuming of hemp or CBD. It means that the final products available on the shelf are not monitored or subjected to any kind of quality check.

Cannabis is made up of more than 120 components, which are known as cannabinoids. Experts still aren’t sure what each cannabinoid does, but they have a pretty good understanding of two of them, known as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is a natural compound occurring in Cannabaceae plants. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient compound in cannabis and is responsible for the mind altering effects it produces. THC content in cannabis has increased dramatically in recent years and high levels of THC have been linked to certain neurological conditions, especially among adolescents, whose brains are still developing. THC is the prevailing compound found in marijuana.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is also a natural compound in the Cannabis plant, just like THC. But unlike THC, CBD it does not produce the mind altering effects. While there is anecdotal evidence that CBD can treat various conditions, it has not been authorized by the FDA as a treatment for any of these conditions.

Epidiolex, a medication for severe forms of epilepsy, is the first FDA approved drug to contain CBD. CBD is the prevailing compound found in Hemp.

If CBD is legal and even being used as a form of therapy, it’s totally safe, right? Not necessarily. CBD products are largely unregulated, so it’s possible that these legally available products actually contain more THC than advertised and often less CBD than advertised. Not only can this expose users to the psychoactive effects of THC, but it could also show up on a drug test. A John Hopkins study found that some hemp products can yield positive results in cannabis tests due to higher THC content. Additionally, CBD can have interactions when mixed with other drugs, so it’s important to talk to your physician before using it.

The Takeaway

Cannabis has infiltrated society in various forms to include marijuana, hemp and CBD products in a short amount of time. It is imperative for Wyoming residents to do their research and learn about each of the components of Cannabis, what evidence there is of both benefit and risk. Talk with your physician, your peers and your loved ones.

Start a conversation that will lead to making the best decision for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana use or you are interested in learning more.

If you have questions or would like to request additional information on prevention resources in Sweetwater County contact Shelby Gordon or Shae Bell at (307) 352-6677 or email

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