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Hemp and Marijuana:
Myths & Realities
by David P. West, Ph.D.
for the North American Industrial Hemp Council
About the Author: Dr. West holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota and has spent 18 years as a commercial corn breeder. Since 1993 he has served as an advisor to the emerging hemp industry regarding industrial hemp germplasm. His work, “Fiber Wars: the Extinction of Kentucky Hemp” (1994), a pioneering discussion of the functional difference between hemp and marijuana, and his other writings on hemp and agriculture are available online (CLICK HERE).
Dr. West can be contacted by email at:
The complete text of this report is available on the NAIHC website.
This report is the first in a series of white papers produced by:
North American Industrial Hemp Council
Post Office Box 259329
Madison, Wisconsin 53725-9329
Tel: (608) 835-0428
” 1998 NORTH AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL HEMP COUNCIL, INC.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Hemp and Marijuana
Myths & Realities
Surely no member of the vegetable kingdom has ever been more misunderstood than hemp. For too many years, emotion-not reason-has guided our policy toward this crop. And nowhere have emotions run hotter than in the debate over the distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana. This paper is intended to inform that debate by offering scientific evidence, so that farmers, policymakers, manufacturers, and the general public can distinguish between myth and reality.
Botanically, the genus Cannabis is composed of several variants. Although there has been a long-standing debate among taxonomists about how to classify these variants into species, applied plant breeders generally embrace a biochemical method to classify variants along utilitarian lines. Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids. Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two preponderate: THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis, and CBD, which is an antipsychoactive ingredient. One type of Cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid