A man was arrested on charges of transporting 6,701 pounds of marijuana that his company claims was hemp. Here’s the difference between them.

  • Truck driver Denis Palamarchuck was recently arrested on charges of transporting 6,701 pounds of marijuana inside his vehicle during a routine inspection, CNN reported.
  • Big Sky Scientific, the Colorado-based company who the supply belongs to, said the substance is actually hemp, which is legal.
  • In December 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp and classifies it as an agricultural product in the United States.
  • Hemp comes from cannabis sativa, the same plant marijuana comes from, Jeff Chen, director of UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative, told INSIDER.
  • Hemp contains very little tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so it can’t get you high like marijuana.

On January 26, Idaho police stopped Denis Palamarchuck for a routine truck inspection and reportedly found 6,701 pounds of illicit marijuana inside the vehicle. The officer’s tests found traces of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, in the supply and arrested Palamarchuck on charges of transporting marijuana, according to CNN.

Big Sky Scientific, the Colorado-based company who the supply belongs to, said the product was actually hemp, a substance which was made legal and classified as an agricultural product after President Trump signed the Farm Bill in December 2018. As part of the bill, any cannabis plant with less then 0.3% THC is considered hemp, not marijuana, in the United States.

Big Sky Scientific claimed the state of Idaho violated the Farm Bill by arresting Palamarchuck, despite the fact that Idaho’s law defines any cannabis plant, regardless of species or THC level, as illegal marijuana.

Besides coming from the same plant, hemp and marijuana have very little in common. “Hemp is the non-drug usage of that plant, while marijuana is the drug use,” Jeff Chen, director of UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative, told INSIDER.

Here are the other key differences between hemp and marijuana.

Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, but only hemp is legal nationwide

Hemp and marijuana may come from the same source – cannabis sativa – but in the United States, laws regarding their use are quite different. Marijuana, for example, is still considered a schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” This means marijuana, in both its recreational and medicinal forms, is not legal for use throughout the country.

Hemp, however, is now legal nationwide thanks to the passing of the Farm Bill. In fact, hemp is now considered an agricultural product, whereas marijuana is still considered a drug, Business Insider previously reported.

There are four states that still consider hemp-derived CBD products illegal though: Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska, according to the National Conference of State Legislature’s website. CBD is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that could potentially help some people with pain relief, Business Insider previously reported.

Cannabis is considered hemp if it contains less than 0.3% THC

Hemp’s new status as a legal substance has a lot to do with the fact it contains very little tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, Chen told INSIDER. Usually, hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, so it can’t get you high like marijuana, which can contain around 20% THC.


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In fact, the THC percentage in cannabis plants is used to determine whether it is called hemp or marijuana. “If no part of the cannabis plant goes over 0.3% THC, we will call it hemp,” Chen explained. “As long as it fits this test, it is an agricultural product just like tomatoes.”

Traditionally, hemp has been used to make clothes and other products

Besides THC percentage, hemp and marijuana have differing uses. Hemp, for instance, has been used to make clothing, supplements, and even food, like hemp milk, according to Joseph.

Marijuana, however, is used as a recreational or medical drug, due to its psychoactive nature. Some strains of marijuana, for instance, are said to alleviate stress, anxiety, and chronic pain, INSIDER previously reported, but more research into its uses and effectiveness still has to be done.


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