Cannabis has many uses beyond the medical or recreational. Not only are the constituents of cannabis valuable in a pharmaceutical sense, other components of cannabis have been found to be highly useful as well.
There are two sources for the medical components of cannabis. One is from the THC-heavy “marijuana” plant, or Cannabis sativa indica, and the other is from the CBD-heavy “hemp” plant, or cannabis sativa sativa. While the names of the plants are similar, the characteristics are quite different.
The hemp plant’s stiff, fibrous stalk can be used to make many items, from food to ship sails. It provides fibers that can be woven into many fabrics. In addition, the stem can provide pulp to make paper, oil to make paints and varnishes, and seed for food. Cannabis plants produce a high-protein, high-carbohydrate seed that is used in granola and cereals. Hemp oil and seed contain only trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive chemicals traditionally associated with the cannabis plant. However, hemp contains a very high concentration of CBD (Cannabidiol), which is known for its medical benefits.
The marijuana plant has been cultivated primarily as a psychoactive drug. Compared to its industrial cousin, hemp, it has high levels of THC. THC is responsible for pain relief and stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine, creating euphoria.