Saturday February 16, 2019
By Paul Barach
If asked the difference between the hemp plant and the cannabis plant, many marijuana consumers can be forgiven if they admit that they don’t really know. The two names have been used interchangeably in culture, and both are only recently becoming legalized again in America. Even more confusing, both produce flowering buds because both are varieties of the species Cannabis Sativa. Hemp plants produce more CBD whereas cannabis plants produce more THC. All this raises the question: since both plants flower, and with CBD in the spotlight for its many positive effects, is smoking hemp flower a good way to consume the beneficial cannabinoid? Since hemp-derived CBD recently became legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, we thought we’d take a closer look.
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Hemp and Cannabis, What’s the Difference?
Before diving into more detail on hemp flower, it’s important to understand what separates the hemp and cannabis plants. As mentioned above, they are basically cousins within the same species. An easy way to understand this is to look at a Pug and a St. Bernard. Both are the same species capable of interbreeding despite wildly different appearances, and both are probably good dogs who deserve a treat along with some belly scratches. In the same vein, the appearances of hemp and cannabis plants are easy to distinguish. The hemp plant grows skinnier and taller than its cousin marijuana, reaching around 12 feet tall. Hemp is also a hardier plant, easy to grow outdoors with minimal effort. So easy, it’s what gave the plant its name “weed” in the first place. The cannabis plant is similarly easy to grow, but requires careful cultivation to produce quality, potent buds.
Hemp has been known for years to be an “every part of the buffalo” plant. The seeds are a healthy source of protein and essential amino acids that can be eaten whole or ground into hemp milk. The leaves can be juiced, the fibrous stalk can be turned into clothing, rope, paper, and even construction material. The oil from pressed seeds can be used for cooking, soapmaking, or biodiesel fuel. Finally, of course, there’s the CBD, which is what most people are after. Hemp plants contain a much higher concentration of CBD while cannabis plants tend to be higher in THC.
What’s the Deal with Hemp Flower?
There are many different types of CBD products on the market today. However, many companies that sell CBD may not be selling a “full spectrum” product – meaning a formulation that includes compounds from the whole hemp plant and not just isolated CBD. There is evidence that consuming hemp flower straight from the plant, or using a “whole plant” CBD product, can boost overall effect and improve the cannabinoid’s beneficial aspects.
This is due to the residual THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids that have an entourage effect in getting the CBD molecule to the endocannabinoid receptors. Much like if you’re heading out to a party, it’s a lot easier to have friends along to help navigate you there and make it more fun. So if you’re looking to try consuming hemp flower for its CBD effect, the question becomes: What is the best method to consume?
Best Ways to Consume Hemp Flower
Because CBD, like THC, is fat soluble, infusing hemp flowers in oil or butter is a great method if you’re looking to digest your CBD. It will also provide a longer-term effect, since the molecule is broken down slower over 30 feet of the digestive tract rather than entering the bloodstream immediately during inhalation. However, ingesting CBD also means that it has to travel through the liver, which breaks down the cannabinoid before it enters the bloodstream, reducing its effectiveness substantially.
There is also the issue of dosing. As anyone who’s ever tried homemade THC edibles knows, the potency can vary greatly from serving to serving – making it important to ensure your infusions re always properly homogenized. The same goes for CBD, which is why you should always start with a small serving, wait for a while, then see how you feel. As the common dispensary saying goes “You can always take more, you can never take less.”
If you are looking to experience CBD’s holistic effects throughout your body in the shortest amount of time, smoking hemp flower is your best bet.
Smoking hemp flower in a joint or a bowl is a great way to get CBD into your bloodstream as fast as possible, but it has its drawbacks. While the natural, anti-inflammatory effects of both cannabis and hemp are not nearly as harmful as tobacco, no doctor will tell you that inhaling any kind of burning material is 100% great for your lungs or body.
Thus, the best, most efficient, and healthiest way to consume hemp flower is by using a dry herb vape. The consumer receives all the entourage effects of the buds CBD, cannabinoids, and terpenes along with but without the harshness of inhaling burnt carbon. The CBD goes straight into the bloodstream through the lungs without having to make a stopover at the liver, which means you experience a quicker onset for effects. It’s also easier to control the dosage since you can measure the grams you’re putting into the vape.
So, if you’ve ever been curious about consuming hemp flower, you have plenty of options. However, for maximum effect, a dry herb vape is probably your best bet. Now, if anyone asks what the difference is between hemp and cannabis flower, you can answer something besides “There’s a difference?” Happy consuming!
Have you tried consuming hemp flower yet? Share your experience in the comments below!