Bridging the Gap Between Hemp and Marijuana

Bridging the Gap Between Hemp and Marijuana

In the vast world of the Cannabaceae family, a treasure trove of around 170 different species of flowering plants awaits beyond the commonly recognized cannabis plant. This family is a complex tapestry consisting of now 8, but was just recently 11 genera, which includes not only Cannabis (spanning both hemp and marijuana) but also Humulus (better known as hops) and Celtis (hackberries), which alone boasts over 90 species.

Yet, as we delve deeper, our gaze narrows to focus primarily on Cannabis, with a nod towards Humulus for its unique contribution of cannabinoids, albeit in smaller quantities.
Mike Robinson The Researcher OG
Hops, a key ingredient in beer-making, is a perennial climber bringing distinctive flavor to our favorite brews. In contrast, Cannabis Sativa, thriving across both temperate and tropical realms, is cultivated for its robust fibers and a rich profile of cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG. The Farm Bill's passage has indeed swung open the doors for hemp-derived CBD, capturing the interest of those seeking the benefits without the high of THC.
This brings us to a crucial discussion point: the industry's push against the stigmatized term 'Marijuana'—a remnant of racially charged propaganda. The truth is, whether referred to as hemp or marijuana, it's all Cannabis at its core. The differentiation often touted in memes and discussions, suggesting a vast divide between Marijuana and Hemp, misses the mark, echoing a narrative set forth by past government agendas rather than botanical reality.

The distinction drawn between Marijuana and Hemp, especially in the wake of widespread legalization, is superficial at best, hinging solely on the dominant cannabinoid present. This differentiation has sown confusion among consumers and has inadvertently aligned with governmental aims to classify the cannabis movement, obscuring the plant's diverse medicinal potential beneath layers of regulatory discourse.

It's vital to acknowledge that cannabinoids, in their myriad forms, tap into our endocannabinoid system, playing a pivotal role in maintaining our body's equilibrium. The psychoactive properties of Cannabis Sativa, recognized since ancient times, starkly contrast the modern narrative surrounding non-psychoactive CBD strains. Research, including Dr. Ethan Russo's findings on ancient cannabis, underscores that THC-rich strains have been the norm rather than the exception.

Cannabis's journey as a cultivated plant spans over 10,000 years, from its origins in central Asia to its global dispersion. Its versatility is unmatched, providing materials for textiles, construction, and even paper with a potential far surpassing traditional tree pulp. Cannabis seeds, a source of nutrition for both humans and birds, yield an oil that's a staple in various products.

The classification of Cannabis has evolved since Carl Linnaeus first identified Cannabis Sativa, with subsequent discoveries leading to the recognition of Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruderalis, each distinguished by unique characteristics. This ongoing debate over cannabis taxonomy reflects the complexity and diversity within the Cannabaceae family itself.

The Cannabaceae family is a fascinating and diverse group of flowering plants known for its significant botanical and economic importance. This family encompasses a range of species that are pivotal in various industries and hold cultural and medicinal value across the globe.

Here's a deeper dive into the Cannabaceae family:

  • Taxonomic Classification: Cannabaceae falls under Rosales, which includes other economically important families like Rosaceae (roses, apples, cherries) and Moraceae (figs, mulberries).

  • Genera and Species: The family contains about 11 genera and approximately 170 species, though these numbers can vary with new taxonomic studies. The most well-known genera include Cannabis (hemp and marijuana), Humulus (hops), and Celtis (hackberries).

Key Genera

  • Cannabis: This genus is the most famous within the Cannabaceae family, comprising species such as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These plants are renowned for their psychoactive and therapeutic compounds, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

  • Humulus: Hops, the primary genus member, is critical in the brewing industry for flavoring beer. Beyond their use in brewing, hops have been researched for their potential medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and soothing effects.

  • Celtis: Known as hackberries, these trees are less talked about in the context of psychoactive or medicinal properties but are important in forestry and landscaping. They produce edible fruits and are valued for their hardy nature and adaptability to various environments.

Botanical Characteristics
  • Flowers: Cannabaceae species are generally dioecious (having male and female flowers on separate plants) or monoecious (having both male and female flowers on the same plant). Their flowers are often inconspicuous, with the family's significance lying more in their fruits or seeds.

  • Leaves: The leaves of Cannabaceae plants can vary widely but often have a characteristic shape or arrangement that helps in their identification. For example, Cannabis leaves are palmately compound with serrated leaflets.

Ecological and Economic Importance

  • Economic Uses: Cannabis sativa varieties (hemp) are cultivated for their fibers, used in textiles and construction materials, and increasingly in biodegradable plastics. Cannabis species are also grown for their seeds (a source of hemp seed oil) and for medicinal cannabinoids.

  • Ecological Roles: Species within the Cannabaceae family play significant roles in their ecosystems. For example, Celtis trees provide habitat and food for various bird species, while Humulus vines can offer cover and food for insects.

Research and Medicinal Uses

Cannabis research has surged in recent years, focusing on its potential therapeutic effects and the endocannabinoid system's role in human health. Cannabinoids have been studied for various applications, including pain management, anti-inflammatory effects, and possible anti-cancer properties. Yet, no published evidence allows any conclusion - it's all 'promising with much potential.'

The same isn't entirely valid for the plants of Cannabaceae. a vast family that's existed since the dawn of mankind - ancient Chinese 'Medicine' didn't require such published studies on trees like the Native Elm or the Rare Axe Handle, which was found to have anti-tumor properties. It's a booming giant, nothing like a bush - but it's in the plant family Cannabaceae.

-Mike Robinson, Global Cannabis Educator and Creator of ECS Balance Control, The Researcher OG


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