The Doctor Is In

The Difference Between Cannabis, Hemp, & Marijuana

Greetings! Welcome to the premier edition of “The Doctor is In.” This publication was created in the hopes of providing valuable information about the emerging regulated Cannabis industry. I don’t claim to be a medical doctor, but I do promise to provide accurate information and answer questions you might have.

Let’s kick off today by answering a key question to which many may not know the answer:

What is the difference between Cannabis, hemp, and marijuana?

Both hemp and marijuana come from the same plant—Cannabis Sativa. But from that same plant comes many different varieties with many different uses. The Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plants Products described it this way , “As Cannabis sativa has been cultivated for over 4,500 years for different purposes, many varieties and cultivars have been selected for specific purposes…”

‘Hemp’ typically refers to the industrial or commercial uses of the cannabis stem and seeds. Marijuana' refers specifically to cannabis flowers which are cultivated and consumed for medicinal, recreational or spiritual use.

Hemp is used all over the world for cloth, food, paper, and more—lots more. Hemp is a very sustainable and efficient crop: an acre of hemp produces more paper than an acre of trees. Most of the world still grows hemp, including Canada, England, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Russia, India and more.

Industrial hemp contains only trace levels (less than 1%) of the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and in fact in many countries it must be below 0.3% THC in order to be legally grown. Marijuana usually contains between 5-10% THC levels, though today’s modern cultivation can lead to levels as high as 25% THC—more THC, more psychoactive compounds which are sought for recreational or medical use.

Until changing laws in the United States began to regulate the growing of hemp, it had a long history of use, dating back to the days of English rule in Colonial America. George Washington wrote about growing hemp on his lands. And while it is not true that the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution are written on hemp paper—they are both on parchment—it is likely that “some working drafts of the documents might have been composed on paper made from hemp, which was widely used in that time period,” said

Since the 1950s, however, this extremely versatile crop has been lumped into the same category of regulation as marijuana. And while it is true they are technically the same plant, there are substantial differences in the agricultural products produced.

Most THC is formed in resin glands on the buds and flowers of the female cannabis plant. Industrial hemp is not cultivated to produce flowering buds—instead, as it grows tall and ‘woodsy’ it has a higher concentration of a chemical called Cannabidiol (CBD).

A lot of the medical uses of CBD oil are explored in a video by National Geographic – benefitting kids who have cancer, epilepsy, & other conditions. Science continues to explore more uses for CBD oil and marijuana as medicine, as outlined in this article by CNN.

At NICC, we believe that industrial hemp can provide a real benefit to consumers and an economic benefit to Indian Country and to industry as well. We believe this impact would come in a positive way, as it does is so many countries throughout the world. NICC salutes the passage of the Farm Bill, which was a positive first step towards allowing hemp to rejoin our agricultural landscape.

And NICC pledges to continue to provide education and guidance in collaboration with the tribal leaders, industry professionals and elected officials who can make this happen.

For more information or to contact NICC directly, visit

Until next time,

Jeff Doctor