What's the difference between cannabis, hemp and marijuana?

Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis; they are both variants of the species Cannabis sativa. If you can get high from it, it’s called marijuana and if you can’t, it is called hemp. The difference is whether it contains a significant amount of (THC) tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the compound in the plant that produces euphoria or a psychoactive “high”. For centuries, certain types of cannabis have been bred for the production of fiber, textiles, paper, and food (particularly its protein-rich seeds). This came to be called hemp. For just as many centuries, other types of cannabis were bred for the production of flower for medicinal purposes, because the flowers of the plant contain much higher concentrations of biochemicals called cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, and many others. This came to be called marijuana. In recent decades, cannabis breeders seeking to obtain the plant’s medicinal qualities (particularly CBD) but without the psychoactive “high” (i.e. THC) have been cross-breeding the types of cannabis historically bred for medicinal flower (marijuana) with the types of cannabis historically bred for fiber and textiles, etc. (hemp). This is the origin of the hemp varieties grown today for CBD and other non-psychoactive medicinal qualities.


What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

Cannabidiol or CBD is the most prevalent naturally occurring compound, known as a phytocannabinoid, found in the cannabis plant.  And, while CBD is one of the most prominent compounds, it is only one of over a hundred phytocannabinoids within the plant that have therapeutic benefits.


Will hemp get me high?

No. In order for hemp-derived CBD to be legally compliant the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels must be not more than 0.3%THC.  But, like all plant medicine it is important to pay attention to your own reactions and start low and slow with your dosage of any new product.  


Why does my body need hemp?

Our bodies support a complex network of receptors. This system, only recently discovered by scientists in 1992, is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and interacts directly with the compounds found in cannabis. The ECS is responsible for rebalancing essential systems in your body to control pain, mood, inflammation, energy, wellness, and illness – essential functions for human health. Now, imagine a complex series of musical notes inside your body. With a full spectrum hemp product, those notes are the bodies’ internal receptors that are struck by the phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (or hemp). Rather than hitting one note with a single compound phytocannabinoid, whole-plant with its multitude of phytocannabinoids plays an entire symphony. The phytocannabinoids in hemp enhance your bodies’ endocannabinoid system by restoring balance in the face of illness and injury.


What do you mean by full-spectrum hemp?

Full-spectrum or whole-plant means that our products are derived from the entire hemp plant. We deliberately keep intact all the rich terpenes, flavonoids and over 100 additional cannabinoids, as well as naturally occurring essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Research, including a 2015 study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, underscores how full-spectrum CBD is more effective for clinical and medical purposes than CBD isolate. One of the most exciting points is the synergistic effects that result through cannabinoid and terpene interactions, dubbed the ‘entourage effect’. Again, think of a symphony made up of thousands of notes, rather than hitting one key. CBD isolate (a 'one-note solution') literally contains ONLY the CBD molecule and though the research is in its nascent stages, it suggests that there are more potential drug interactions with CBD Isolate, compared to full-spectrum CBD products according to the Primer on Cannabinoid Drug Interactions, released by Project CBD in late 2018.


What does the term 'entourage effect' mean?

The chemical synergy that occurs through cannabinoid and terpene interaction and proof that the sum of the whole has greater efficacy than in isolation.  


Why do we love terpenes so much and what are they?

Terpenes or terpenoids are volatile hydrocarbons made in the trichomes produced by cannabis (and other plants).   Trichomes hold the sticky, resinous 'medicinal' oil in the plant.  Terpenes carry healing properties and include alpha- and beta-pinene, limonene, myrcene, linalool and beta-caryophyllene, to name just a handful.   Cannabis produces over 200 terpenes, but only 30 are of significant quantity.  Terpenes are the calling card of a plant (Stella Aurora, Skipjack to name a couple of our own) and thus the inspiration behind the names of our pre-rolls; Clarity, Mirth, Patience, Reverie, Tranquility and Presence. 


Is hemp legal?

Yes! Hemp was legalized nationwide by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (aka 2018 Farm Bill). This legislation specifically exempted hemp, which is defined as any part or derivative of cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% THC from the Controlled Substances Act. It is lawful nationwide for all types of possession and transportation. Cultivation is regulated by individual state permits.


Why should I care about the USDA's Hemp Rule?

Meristem Farms, like many small-medium farms across the country are making space for the artisanal, organically-farmed hemp with a very high plant-to-love ratio. For this way of cultivation to survive, USDA's hemp rule must be friendly for small and medium sized-farms. Meristem believes that active engagement in the political and rule-making process is critical to protect our industry and establish a strong foundation for both food and fiber hemp as well as high cannabinoid hemp. Our CEO, Rick Fox, has been in Washington DC meeting with USDA and members of Congress to help build support for changes in the rules. He and a collaborative band of companies have worked hard to develop a list of what it is possible to change. What we found with our time in DC after hours of meetings on Capitol Hill and with USDA was that very little scientific justification in their rules. We aim to provide science-based direction to guide future rule making. The goal is to get an adjustment to the rules as quickly as possible to provide some predictability for the coming season. ​Hemp is as challenging to regulate as it is to produce. Under pressure to expedite regulations in time for the 2020 growing season, USDA has bravely tackled many of these challenges head-on in the Interim Rule, despite the difficulty presented by building a new industry with so many complex factors. But in the rush to meet an arbitrary deadline and despite the continued availability of 2014 Farm Bill authorities, the rule jumps to conclusions in setting standards that contradict available science and inadequately analyze the resulting stakeholder impact. Clearly, as shown by the alarms to this effect raised by thousands of public comments, it was a mistake to begin implementation of the rule without the requisite consideration of public comment and proper analysis of issues and alternatives. As a result, the rule brings destructive disarray to the hemp industry and exposes USDA to answering for failed crops and unlawful regulatory takings.


Do we ship outside the US?

Yes! Contact us if you have specific questions here:


What damage can viruses and viroids cause in hemp production?
As we learn more about the susceptibility of Cannabis to the vast range of diseases that can infect it, virus diseases are a substantial concern. Several virus and viroid diseases are causing severe crop loss to Hemp growers. Among those are: hop latent viroid (HpLVd,) hemp streak virus, cannabis cryptic virus (CanCV), tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) and arabis mosaic virus (ArMV). Of these, cucumber mosaic, arabis mosaic and tobacco mosaic have very broad host ranges, are easily transmitted and could potentially decimate a cannabis crop. Transmission can be mechanical (TMV), by insects such as aphids (CMV) or nematodes (ArMV). Once a production crop or mother-stock range is infected, it can prove extremely difficult to eliminate, and the risk of re-infection is great. Hence, subsequent crops are at extreme risk without proper management and hygiene measures. The key to avoiding the damage that virus and viroid diseases can cause is to start with clean stock every year. Starter plants that are pathogen-free have been screened for diseases mean that the plants, even if infected during the growing season, will not be damaged by the virus before harvest.


Why is clean stock important?
Clean stock gives farmers peace of mind that their crop will not be devastated by a virus or viroid infection. Clean Stock propagation systems were developed by the ornamental plant industry and include strict hygiene protocols to reduce the risk of infection by virus and viroid. Plant material that is held over for use as motherstock if often infected with at least a few virus and viroid diseases. The clean stock model means that plants that the farmers receive were propagated exclusively from plants that went through a high level biotech testing process that incorporates qPCR tests to look for the presence of viral particles. This is important because a plant growing in the field, even if infected by virus, will not show symptoms before plants are harvested. However it plants are held over the winter, the virus/viroid multiply and when the plant is stressed, the virus can begin to show symptoms and start to decline.