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Hemp refers to the more fibrous form of the plant, used for fabric and industrial purposes but also for medical benefits. Hemp is arbitrarily defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC, based on regulatory decisions designed to control access to the psychoactive compound THC.  However, hemp has numerous other chemicals, particularly CBD.

The term “marijuana” is used to refer to any cannabis cultivar that contains more than 0.3% THC, and it is common for THC to be as high as 28-30% in modern cultivars. 

Each cannabis plant contains more than 500 active compounds that offer a wide range of medical benefits. These compounds include phytocannabinoids (more than 140), terpenes (more than 200), flavonoids, stilbenoids, antioxidants and many others. Every cultivar has different genetics, and every plant will grow differently and express variations in chemical content in response to environmental factors. Different plants have different “personalities” just like us! 

Phyto-cannabinoids (PCs) are the compounds most associated with the cannabis plant and include the well-known compounds CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Interestingly, PCs are odorless and tasteless oils. Terpenes or terpenoids (Ts) are the aromatic essential oils that give cannabis as well as many other plants (flowers, herbs, trees), their characteristic odors and flavors.  

The effects of cannabis are intricately linked to the complex interactions of these compounds with each other and with the human body endo-cannabinoid system in what is called the entourage effect. It has been scientifically proven that the synergistic effects of cannabis whole plant products (full spectrum) are more medically effective than single compound products (isolates), just like eating an organic salad is better than taking a synthetic vitamin.

– Written by Corey Anden, MD- #CannabisCorey