You know that hemp and marijuana are “cousins” in the plant world, and that hemp is used for its fiber and marijuana for its brain-altering chemicals. But you recently drove past a hemp farm and couldn’t help noticing that it smelled a lot like the room of that person in your college dorm who was always smoking marijuana. How could that be?
Terpenes in Cannabis
Terpenes are an organic compound in plants (and some animals) that influence aroma. For example, terpenes give oranges their citrus smell and induce that relaxed feeling when you inhale a lavender scent. Because both marijuana and hemp are cannabis plants, they have similar terpenes. As a result, the hemp farm you passed smells a little bit like marijuana.
Cannabinoids and the Law
Both plants contain the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) but in different amounts. Marijuana has higher concentrations of THC – the compound that produces the mental “high” and hemp is higher in CBD. Running an industrial hemp farm became legal with the Agricultural Improvement Act in 2018. States can also regulate its growth. According to federal law, the hemp produced must have less than 0.3% THC by weight, or it will be considered marijuana, which continues to be illegal.
Potential Uses for Hemp and Marijuana
As more and more states pass medical and recreational marijuana laws, the demand for both CBD and THC-infused products has increased. CBD can be used in edibles products, massage oils, lotions and balms. While both plants have potential uses for relief of pain, anxiety, and depression, hemp can also be used for textiles, building materials, plastics, and even biofuels.
So yes, that farm you passed smelled a bit like marijuana because the two plants are related. But the crop from that farm might be used in CBD products or in your next house!