Cannabis is grown for recreational and medicinal purposes, whereas hemp has largely been an industrial product for many years. This difference in cultivation purposes has led to differences in appearance.
For hemp farmers, historically, the larger focus has been on the plant’s stalks, as the fiber is found to make rope, clothing, and many other products. Hemp plants are long and spindly, while cannabis plants are short and bushy.
By nature, hemp plants produce greater amounts of CBD than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD from hemp can be extracted and processed like CBD in cannabis and can be used to make similar products.
While there are physical differences, it can be very difficult to distinguish buds from each plant, as they both look and smell very similar. And from a distance, a hemp farm and a cannabis farm are distinguishable.
The 2018 Farm Bill Hemp separated hemp in the Controlled Substances Act, defined as:
“Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis with extremely low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-THC (no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis).”
If you purchase CBD buds from a dispensary, be sure to check the label and Certificate of Analysis to make sure you are getting what you paid for. But, it’s also important to know that police officers are not trained to recognize the difference between cannabis and hemp buds and therefore several arrests have been made as people have transported legal hemp across state lines.
Always do your own research before purchasing CBD or cannabis products so you know the regulations in your state and can act as an advocate for yourself. We certainly hope for more education in the future and faster testing methods to prevent these kinds of arrests and barriers to use.