It sounds strange. It sounds too human. But yes, cannabis plants have two sexes. Marijuana is from both Venus and Mars, as the old saying goes.
Many people already have a vague idea that plants are hermaphrodites, and most are. Flowering plants produce both pollen and egg cells, while insects act as cupid couriers, bringing the ‘sperm’ of one flower to the ovum of another.
But cannabis isn’t most plants. Along with the likes of ginkgo, willow, and kiwi, cannabis is one of the few species split into pollen- and bud-producing varieties, or in laymen terms, males and females.
Of course, any cannabis grower worth their sativa knows this already. As the bud-producing sex, feminized plants are coveted for their THC and CBD, while pollen-producing males are regarded as worthless.
But, with the right tinkering, male plant parts can have enormous value, too. In a recent experiment, researchers from the University of Connecticut induced female cannabis plants to produce male flowers. Alone, these plants still weren’t any more useful to a grower. But, when bred with other females, the results were spectacular.
Hemp is genetically more similar to cannabis Indica, unlike marijuana which is similar to cannabis Sativa. While it is true that most hemp plants are male and do not produce flowering cannabis buds, their lack of intoxicating effects is mainly the result of many years of selective breeding.
A factor that often confuses people is whether the CBD in the products comes from hemp or cannabis. The short answer is that they derive from different varieties of the Cannabis Sativa plant.
Although scientific studies have not confirmed CBD’s usefulness for all these conditions, available evidence suggests that CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, which is a signaling network
CBD, or cannabidiol, is non-intoxicating and one of the more than 540 phytochemicals found in the Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) plant. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound that gets people “high.” It is the difference between THC levels found in hemp and cannabis that has caused so many legal complications.
What is hemp?
Hemp is a specific variety of C. sativa. People have grown hemp for hundreds of years, using it to make rope, clothes, sails, food, and much more. Industrial hemp has an equally long history
The 2018 Farm Bill considers C. sativa plants with less than 0.3 percent THC as hemp or industrial hemp. Producers can grow it legally across most of Australia and the U.S., subject to strict regulations, and excluding three states.
Hemp plants do contain THC but at very low levels. However, certain types of processed hemp, such as tinctures, gummies, or capsules, can still cause euphoria.
In most cases, manufacturers use the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant to make CBD products.
What is cannabis?
There are three standard varieties of cannabis plants: C. indica, C. sativa, and C. ruderalis. There is also a range of hybrid plants that are a mix of these three strains. These cannabis plants contain much higher and varying levels of THC than hemp plants.
Besides containing more THC, these plants also tend to contain less CBD than hemp plants, and the difference has become steadily more pronounced.
A 2016 analysis found that the average potency of cannabis plants rose from about 4% in 1995 to 12% in 2014. Average CBD levels decreased from 0.28% in 2001 to less than 0.15% in 2014.
Cannabis CBD vs. hemp CBD
Cannabis and hemp plants contain both CBD and THC along with more than 540 other substances. The main difference between the two plants is the amount of each compound they contain.
Cannabis contains more THC, and less CBD. Hemp contains more CBD and less THC.
Most importantly, the benefits of CBD do not change whether it is cannabis-derived CBD or hemp-derived CBD. Common side effects, such as an upset stomach, feeling tired, or feeling on edge, remain the same. This is because the chemical make-up of CBD does not depend on which plant it comes from.
However, the amount of CBD available for extraction does depend on the source. Hemp plants contain far more CBD, making them the more lucrative option for manufacturers and the option with the least potential legal ramifications.