“Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?” ― Bill Hicks
Few plants have achieved as much notoriety as Cannabis. It has been the topic of many current debates, especially in regard to its medicinal uses, which seem to place it in a permanent state of limbo. Whether you've ever inhaled it or not, there is certainly a lot to say about this versatile plant. This will just be a brief introduction...
So, what's the difference between Cannabis, Marijuana and Hemp?
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes three varieties; Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis.
Marijuana is the dried flowers of the Cannabis plant, where the psychoactive compounds can be found. Various extracts from these flowers include hashish and hash oil.
Hemp is used to name the durable soft fiber from the Cannabis stalk and can refer to any industrial or food product that is not intended for use as a drug . It is a valuable material in tens of thousands of commercial products, especially as a fiber; ranging from paper, construction material to clothing. It is stronger and longer-lasting than cotton. It also is a useful source of foodstuffs (hemp milk, hemp seed, hemp oil) and biofuels. Hemp seeds contain all of the essential amino acids, making them an ideal source of protein. The essential fatty acids are abundant in hemp seeds and come in a ratio that is highly beneficial to humans. Magnesium, iron, and potassium are in good supply, along with fiber. Many countries regulate limits for the psychoactive compound concentrations in products labeled as hemp.
Cannabis will grow under most conditions that will support life and it is inherently indestructible. Long after other species of plants have disappeared because of drought, infestation, or climatic changes, cannabis will still exist. Cannabis is one of nature's best examples of survival of the fittest. Depending on the conditions under which it grows, cannabis will either produce more resin or more fiber. When raised in hot, dry climates, resin is produced in great quantities and fiber quality is poor. In countries with mild, humid weather, less resin is produced and the fiber is stronger and more durable.
A History Lesson
Since Cannabis is the only plant on the planet that yields both a drug and a useful fiber, it's no surprise that it has been in used by humankind for thousands of years. It has been adopted as an agent for achieving euphoria since ancient times. Cannabis was first described in a Chinese medical compendium which dates back to 2737 B.C. and has a long history of use as a medicinal herb, spreading from China to India and then to Northern Africa and reached Europe as early as 500 A.D . A major crop in colonial North America, marijuana was grown as a source of fiber (hemp), and was extensively cultivated during World War II.
Click here for more details: The History of Marijuana as Medicine
Why the "high"?
Cannabis plants produce a unique family of compounds called cannabinoids, which produce the "high" one experiences from consuming marijuana. There are 483 identifiable chemical constituents known to exist in the cannabis plant, and at least 85 different cannabinoids have been isolated from the plant. The two cannabinoids usually produced in greatest abundance are cannabidiol (CBD) and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but only THC is psychoactive.
The Cannabis sativa is known to cause more of a "high" by stimulating hunger and by producing a rather more comedic or energetic feeling. Conversely, the Cannabis indica plant is known to cause more of a "stoned" or meditative feeling.
Of course, controversy surrounds the medical use of marijuana. Its active ingredient, THC, was synthesized in 1966 and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1985. Synthetic THC is available by prescription in pill form as dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet). Proponents of medical marijuana say it is not as effective as the herb and is more expensive.
Interested in experimenting with with the versatility and flavor of Cannabis in your kitchen without the smoke?
Cooking with Cannabis
Hemp seeds are also a great option for culinary use!
Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds