20.09.2019 Feature Article

Hemp VS Marijuana: The right education is needed for legalization!

Hemp VS Marijuana:  The right education is needed for legalization!
LISTEN SEP 20, 2019

Recently, at the Matriculation of the first batch of Naturopathic Medicine students at Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, one of the guest speakers, Nene Ogah Osuagbo I, Chief of Great Ametafor in the Shai Osudoku Traditional Area in Accra, appealed to the government to establish an Indian Hemp Industrial Plant for them as part of the One-District One-Factory (1D1F) initiative. The chief, later, had to apologize to the people of Ghana for his statement on Indian hemp. The question is “was it a crime for him to propose an Indian hemp factory in his district”?

Nene Ogah statement:
“I want to seek permission from you to use this platform to provoke a thought; a thought which many Ghanaian knew is the obvious way to go but for fear of name-calling and populist backlash, they are unwilling to speak to it openly,”

“God in his omnipotent wisdom upon creating all things found that they were good…and declared that we use the properties of flora as food and medicine. Scientific research also alludes to many benefits that could be derived from harnessing and utilizing plants for food and industrial use,”

“Plants like Ghana hemp also have very high medicinal or industrial uses, Ghana Hemp farmers are agri-business men and women who are into job creation and poverty reduction. They are not ‘ganjar’ smokers. Tobacco farmers are not cigarette smokers. Licensed importers and manufacturers of guns are not armed robbers, etc.” he said.

“The protocol which resulted in the successful establishment of the Atomic Energy Plant and the school of Nuclear Allied Sciences of the College of Basic and Applied Science of the University of Ghana at Kwabenya are sufficient pointers to the fact that we can comfortably accommodate a Ghana Hemp Industrial Plant and a School of Hemp and Allied Integrative Medical Studies which I know the benefits far outweigh the temporary associated health hazards,” he added.

He was of the view that persons suspected to be smoking Indian hemp do so not because of the hazards but they wanted to derive health benefits such as energy booster, stimulants, concentration, mental alertness, among others.

“If we harness these essential indicators of the plants and put them out there as medicines and regulate their intake or application, we can then reap the benefits according to God’s plan,” he indicated.

My thoughts:
Interestingly enough, in Ghana, we do not understand the difference between Hemp and Marijuana making it very difficult to talk about such a subject. We lumpsum hemp and Marijuana into the same bracket. The same thing happened in 2000, when the Traditional Medicine Practice ACT 575 was passed. We at that time, classified Traditional and Alternative Medicine into the same group. However, along the line, we had a problem with who is a Traditional Medicine Practitioner and today, with several consultations and researches, the law was amended and we now have the Traditional and Alternative Medicine bill 2018, waiting to be passed.

This is the same thing happening here with hemp and Marijuana. We classified them as ‘Weed’ in Ghana! We can only make a head way into this controversy if we do away with personal emotions and conduct extensive research into the two for the benefit of the Nation.

So, after the extensive research, I have decided to write about this two for policy makers and stake holders to make their informed decisions. It is also under Natural Medicine!


Aaron Cadena, cannabidiol (CBD) enthusiast, passionate writer, and Editor in Chief at―the CBD community’s leading digital publication and online knowledge base. His article titled, “ Hemp vs Marijuana: The Difference Explained (2019 Update)” to be accessed at › cbd-origin › a straightforward and explained the difference between Hemp and Marijuana.

Hear him:
“The difference between hemp vs marijuana is a subject that is all too often improperly explained. As demand for CBD continues to skyrocket, the CBD industry has developed into a unique market that is independent, yet still closely related to the Cannabis industry, including its controversial reputation and shifting legalities. Due to the confusion and complications that this can present for CBD users, it has become increasingly important to understand the difference between hemp and marijuana and how they relate to Cannabis”.

What’s the Difference Between Hemp vs Marijuana?


Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family, which consists of three primary species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

While hemp and marijuana are regularly referred to as “species” or “strains” of Cannabis, they actually do not qualify as either one. In fact, they couldn’t technically be considered as plants at all. Hemp and marijuana are simply broad classifications of Cannabis that were adopted into our culture; however, they are not legitimate nomenclature for the Cannabis plant.

To clarify the difference between Hemp and Marijuana and clear the smoke on this frequently misinformed subject, let’s explore what each of these terms actually means and how they relate to Cannabis.

What is Hemp?
“Hemp” is a term used to classify varieties of Cannabis that contain 0.3% or less Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content (by dry weight).

While the legal definition described above had not been legitimized until the Agricultural Act of 2018 had passed, “hemp” has generally been used to describe non-intoxicating Cannabis that is harvested for the industrial use of its derived products.

With evidence of its use recorded throughout history, including the discovery of material made from hemp over 10,000 years ago, many believe that hemp was the first crop ever cultivated by mankind.

With the capabilities to produce crucial resources such as food, rope, clothing, paper, housing material, and more, hemp has been the catalyst for man’s earliest innovations.


What is Marijuana?
“Marijuana” is a term used to classify varieties of Cannabis that contain more than 0.3% THC (by dry weight) and can induce psychotropic or euphoric effects on the user.

While the use of this term is widespread throughout American culture, it presents a grossly inadequate misrepresentation of Cannabis. Most informed individuals and organizations in the Cannabis industry refuse to use the term and some consider it to be “racist.”

In early American history, the term “marijuana” was non-existent and “cannabis” was the primary term used to classify the plant.

Between 1910 and 1920, nearly a million Mexicans migrated into the United States seeking refuge from the Mexican Revolution.

During this time, anti-Mexican sentiment had begun to steep and the term “marijuana” arose as a negative correlation of its use by Mexican immigrants.

Soon after, rumors began to surface, warning Americans of the dangerous and homicidal tendencies caused by using “Mexican cannabis” or “locoweed,” which lead to an even greater rise in anti-Mexican sentiment.

As the negative perception of cannabis intensified, the government began regulating cannabis more aggressively.

By 1927, 11 states had passed anti-marijuana laws and by the 1930s anti-marijuana propaganda and the fear of “Reefer Madness” was in full swing.


After the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which imposed heavy, unrealistic taxes on the possession, sale, and transportation of the plant, the federal government had effectively banned “marijuana,” paving the way for the next 80 years of cannabis prohibition.

The Confusion Presented by Hemp vs Marijuana

Based on the context used to describe Hemp and Marijuana, the defining characteristic between the two is based on a single factor — the amount of THC in the plant — or rather whether it will get the user high.

While the intoxicating properties of each plant is an important factor to consider, categorizing Cannabis as either hemp or marijuana based on a single characteristic presents a skewed portrayal of Cannabis which prevents users from fully understanding its diversity.

To give you a comparison, consider the taxonomic hierarchy of fruits in the citrus species:


As portrayed in the chart above:
Categorizing Cannabis as either Hemp or Marijuana is akin to classifying all fruits in the citrus genus as either sweet or sour, without acknowledging the diverse characteristics of each fruit.

In addition, hemp and marijuana can often appear indistinguishable from one another. This has already led to numerous issues of law enforcement officers making arrests and seizing hemp that is 100% legal because it looks exactly like “marijuana.” The classification of hemp or marijuana absent of a true understanding of Cannabis presents a clear issue of function.

The obvious solution is for these words to have never existed; however, now that these terms have become deeply ingrained in our society, this problem will be difficult to reverse.

The only realistic solution is to re-educate our society over time. In the meantime, it’s probably best to stay informed about what hemp and marijuana mean and how they are used in our society and legal system to know your rights and avoid any complications when using hemp or CBD products.


4 Key Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

As varieties of the same plant species, hemp and marijuana share many similarities and can even appear exactly alike.

With contrasting legal regulations and very different effects and usages, you definitely do not want to get these two confused.

To understand just how different these two are, consider these 4 key differences between hemp and marijuana.

I. Hemp vs Marijuana: Composition
The defining characteristic between hemp and marijuana is the chemical composition contained within each plant.

Both hemp and marijuana can produce high amounts of CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabis compound; however, THC is produced at very different levels.

While hemp can contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, marijuana can contain up to 30% THC content.


II. Hemp vs Marijuana: Legality
Due to the difference between their levels of THC, hemp and marijuana are regulated very differently under the law.

While hemp was previously regulated as an illegal substance under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, it was removed as an illegal substance under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, which federally legalized hemp and hemp-derived products that contain no more than 0.3% THC.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is still treated as a controlled substance and is federally illegal under the Controlled Substance Act.

III. Hemp vs Marijuana: Cultivation


Hemp and marijuana are harvested for different purposes so, naturally, they require different growing conditions.

Marijuana varieties are selectively bred in controlled environments which are designed to optimize the breed’s characteristics and produce female plants that yield budding flowers.

To properly cultivate a marijuana or cannabis plant, a grower must pay close attention to the plant at each stage of its life cycle and maintain exact conditions in its environment, such as proper temperature, lighting, and humidity.

In contrast, hemp is grown to maximize its size and yield. To achieve this, hemp is typically grown outdoors and does not require the level of control and attention that is necessary to grow marijuana.

IV. Hemp vs Marijuana: Usage
Hemp and marijuana each offer a range of usages which are unique to their composition.

As a powerful psychoactive agent, THC can directly bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the Endocannabinoid System, which induces the mind-altering, euphoric effects referred to as being “high.”

While marijuana is commonly recognized for its recreational uses, studies have revealed its potential in a wide variety of therapeutic applications.

In comparison, hemp is harvested to produce a wide variety of products including, but not limited to:

I. industrial products such as paper, clothing, building materials, and plastic

II. Food products such as cooking oil, hemp flour, and hemp seed-based products

III. Medicinal products such as CBD oil tinctures and CBD-infused topicals

Hemp Derived CBD vs Marijuana Derived CBD


When it comes to CBD and the case of hemp and marijuana, we are faced with yet another important subject that must be addressed.

CBD can be derived from either hemp or marijuana, however, given the unique characteristics of each plant, one would assume that the CBD derived from each plant is different in some way.

Surprisingly, they aren’t.
Jeremy Riggle, Ph.D., and Chief Scientist at Mary’s Nutritionals says that “the CBD molecule and its associated pharmacology are the same, whether it was extracted from hemp or from marijuana. CBD is CBD, regardless of where it was originally derived from,”

So if CBD is the exact same at a molecular level, CBD should be legal whether it’s derived from hemp or marijuana, as long as it’s below 0.3% right? Not exactly…

This is where the law can get a little confusing, but let me explain.

Under the Agricultural Act of 2018, commonly known as the “2018 Farm Bill”, hemp and hemp-derived products, including hemp-derived CBD, were legalized.

A common misconception about the 2018 Farm Bill is that it legalized CBD regardless of if it was derived from hemp or marijuana. This is not true. Based on the guidance of the DEA, CBD is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance.

If, however, the CBD is derived from hemp which contains no more than 0.3% THC, it would not be regulated as a controlled substance and is federally legal.

The keyword here is “derived from hemp.”

The 2018 Farm Bill explicitly applies to “hemp and hemp-derived products.”

It does not include marijuana-derived CBD, which remains under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a controlled substance.

Even if the CBD contains 0.0% THC, if it is derived from marijuana, it is not legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

To summarize and re-clarify:
I. Hemp-derived CBD is legal if it contains 0.3% THC or less under the Agricultural Act of 2018

II. Marijuana-derived CBD is illegal and is still classified as a controlled substance regardless of its percentage of THC.

Hemp vs Marijuana: Final Thoughts
While the subject can be a bit complex and quite confusing, I hope to have shed some light on this important subject and properly explained the difference between hemp vs marijuana.

Despite the dysfunctional use of the terms “hemp” and “marijuana,” these terms have become deeply ingrained in our culture and society. There is definitely a need to re-educate Ghana, policy makers, stake holders etc about Hemp and Marijuana, but to reverse this issue, it will have to take time. Because these terms are used in a legal context, it’s important to understand what they mean, how they’re different, and how they relate to cannabis to understand your rights and avoid potential legal complications when using CBD products.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free.

Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, PhD, is an honorary Professor of Naturopathic Medicine, Vinnytsia State Pedagogical University, Ukraine and president of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, Tema community 7. He is the formulator of FDA approved Men’s Formula for prostate Health & Immune booster, Women’s Formula & Nyarkotey Tea for cardiovascular Health. Enquiries, 0208244716/0241083423

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