The main distinction that separates hemp seeds from cannabis seeds sits in the amounts of certain compounds, called cannabinoids, present within them. The 2018 Farm Bill established a limit of 0.3 percent THC content for any Cannabis sativa plant to be classified as hemp in the US – seeds included. Some local jurisdictions on the state level (and other regions of the world) have their own definition of what distinguishes hemp from cannabis. Still, this 0.3% THC content threshold is quickly becoming an accepted standard.
Hemp seeds can be used for a variety of everyday purposes and have been for years. The seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant are highly nutritious and can be found on the shelves of your local health food store. These seeds can be added to smoothies, salads, granola, and any other kitchen concoction you can scheme up in their processed form.
Recent developments regarding hemp and cannabis regulations have expanded hemp from grocery shelves to alternative health clinics and corner stores across the country and beyond. Hemp oil has various uses and benefits (which is why people use cbd lotion, take it as a tincture, and use it in cooking, to name a few), while being the fuel behind the recent boom in the CBD market.
Fueled by widespread acceptance and removal of regulations, the hemp and cannabis industries are growing rapidly across the globe. They may technically be the same plant from a scientific standpoint, but in lawmakers’ eyes, two classifications exist with their own set of rules and regulations. Understanding the difference between hemp and cannabis seeds is a critical step for anyone involved in these industries – from seed to sale.
Another big difference between cannabis seeds and hemp seeds is cost. Since cannabis seeds are most often sold for purposes of growing cannabis plants, their seeds will typically cost you more than what you’d pay for hemp seeds at the grocery store. The rise of legal hemp and the CBD market has increased the value of hemp seeds a bit, but cannabis seeds will almost always cost considerably more.
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the farm bill) in the States legalized the production of low-THC hemp (that which falls under 0.3%) for industrial purposes. This law was passed on a federal level, and thus applies to all of the states. As a consequence, hemp oil is now available in huge quantities and varieties. Though, this is not the same as CBD oil—and the same plants are not used in the production of both hemp fibre/seeds and CBD-rich flowers.
More recently, hemp seeds have also been harvested for their nutritional value. Among their uses, they provide one of the many vegan alternatives to milk, being rich in fatty acids.
2018 Farm Bill
The roots of the hemp plant can also be used to clean contaminated soil, a process known as phytoremediation. As hemp is a very robust plant, it is able to grow where other plants cannot, and the roots are able to absorb toxins. Therefore, by planting hemp crops in areas with poor, toxic soil, the soil can be effectively cleaned.
So, are the first two hemp, and the third cannabis? Not quite. It’s more accurate to say that numbers one and two tend to be hemp, while number three tends to be cannabis.
It’s not only the whole hemp plant that can be used, but the marijuana plant too (though admittedly this is less common). First, technically the marijuana plant could be used for the same purposes as the hemp plant—it would just provide far less in terms of raw materials. That is because weed plants have been bred to express different characteristics—specifically, cannabinoid-rich flowers. However, assuming you want to enjoy all the compounds from a marijuana plant, don’t just smoke the buds and throw the rest away.
The concept of using oil derived from vegetables as an engine fuel is nothing new. In 1895, Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil — peanut oil to be exact. When you press the hemp seeds and extract the oil, you are actually creating hemp biodiesel. Additionally, through processes such as gasification, hemp can be used to make both ethanol and methanol.
The hemp paper process also utilizes less energy and fewer chemicals than tree paper processing and doesn’t create the harmful dioxins, chloroform, or any of the other 2,000 chlorinated organic compounds that have been identified as byproducts of the wood paper process.
Hemp seed oil is extracted by pressing the seeds of the female cannabis hemp plant. The hemp oil extracted is very nutritious in terms of a dietary supplement but hemp seed oil lacks cannabinoids, which are the main compounds found in the cannabis plant that have the ability to help battle cancer. Hemp seed oil is found mostly in products in your local grocery store and typically contains twice the levels of omega 3 found in olive oil with only half of the total calories.
Hemp for Health & Body
Additionally, oil derived from hemp seed has shown promise in treating eczema (chronic dry skin) in patients, although whole-plant cannabis oil has been proven to be more effective in treating more severe skin disorders, like skin cancer.
Patients looking to treat more serious diseases and chronic illnesses will want to look into whole-plant cannabis oil treatments (i.e., Rick Simpson Oil). Products consisting of whole plant cannabis oil provide high doses of concentrated cannabinoids (e.g., THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc…), terpenes, and other compounds from the plant that many patients and caregivers need to help find relief from a wide variety of ailments.
1. Hemp biodiesel – made from the oil of the (pressed) hemp seed.
2. Hemp ethanol/methanol – made from the fermented stalk.
According to a 1976 study published by the International Association of Plant Taxonomy concluded “both hemp varieties and marijuana varieties are of the same genus, Cannabis, and the same species, Cannabis Sativa. Further, there are countless varieties that fall into further classifications within the species Cannabis Sativa.”