HEMP IS NOT MARIJUANA – Why Can’t People Get This Right!

HEMP IS NOT MARIJUANA – Why Can’t People Get This Right!


What do you think of when you hear the word Hemp?

When I was young, the term never came up. I knew the word ‘weed’, but the guys that knew it well hung out on park benches next to their 10-speeds with the handlebars turned up and that scared me to death. I first heard the term Hemp sometime during my Junior High and High School years when my brother bought a Mexican Baja Hoodie Poncho. Someone said it was a Hemp jacket. I didn’t know any better!

Almost on a daily basis there is a new story about the everlasting confusion on the topic of Hemp and Marijuana. I mean, can you recall anything, outside of the current political landscape, more confusing and controversial?

For medieval Europeans, the term Hemp was a generic term used to define any fiber. European expansion resulted in a very liberal use of the term anytime a fiberous plant was discovered. They came up with Manila Hemp, New Zealand Hemp, Indian Hemp, Sisal Hemp, just to name a few.

The word Marijuana was first coined in the 1890’s and later adopted by the Bureau of Narcotics in the 1930’s to describe all things “Cannabis”. U.S. Drug enforcement continues to use this new generic term to this day, subsequently confusing the true botanical distinctions that have always been present. The confusion of distinct terms has caused our policy makers to consider themselves supporting industrial hemp but feeling like they are actually supporting marijuana.

Dr. Andrew Wright, an agronomist with the University of Wisconsin’s Agriculture Experiment Station and steward of the Wisconsin hemp industry during the first half of the twentieth century, wrote in 1918, “There are three fairly distinct types of hemp: that grown for fiber, that for birdseed and oil, and that for drugs.”

Because of this lack of distinction, we would be wise to let Biologists and Botanists into the roundtable discussions when policy making is considered. More than two dozen countries have committed to understanding the difference between marijuana and hemp and have legalized and supported these distinctions accordingly.

The next time you encounter a policymaker, ask them if they know about the true botanical differences in marijuana and industrial hemp. If they submit that they look exactly the same and that’s how they determine their use, then invite them to dinner at your house. Serve them field corn instead of sweet corn and let their facial expressions do the rest!

Brian Workman – Co-Founder/Writer

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