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The Cannabis Confusion Debunked

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

As we browse Instagram using #Cannabis, it didn't take us much time to find this inaccurate social media post from Instagram. As we debunk this Instagram post, titled "The Confusion," we couldn't help but recognize the irony of the title. The following post found on Instagram claims the following...

Inaccurate Instagram Post

"Cannabis has 2 species."

This statement couldn't be any more false. The genus Cannabis has in fact been separated via chemotaxonomy into 3 species.

1. Cannabis sativa L.

2. Cannabis indica Lam.

3. Cannabis ruderalis Jan.

It is important to understand that hemp and marijuana both belong to the genus Cannabis. Legislation changed the definition of hemp, originally defined as the male Cannabis plant (non-flowering), to include the female Cannabis sativa L. chemovar, officially excluding hemp from being defined as marijuana under this new definition. This updated definition of hemp decriminalized all of the components and bi-products of the Cannabis plant, as long as the plant legally classifies as hemp. In August of 2019, the DEA announced the recognition of this law decriminalizing the small amount of Δ9-THC found in hemp's flowers and hemp derived products, as long as the flowers and/or the products derived from the plant, do not contain any more then 0.300 percent Δ9-THC on a dry weight basis. The inclusion of the flowering Cannabis sativa L. plant in the definition of hemp, was vital for the birth of the CBD industry because CBD can only be extracted from the Cannabis flower. Respectively, marijuana is defined under federal law as any Cannabis plant or product that contains more than 0.300 percent Δ9-THC on a dry weight basis.

While we agree with the post's insinuation that there is widespread confusion over the taxonomy of the genus Cannabis, the widespread confusion is a direct result of inaccurate posts being circulated regularly on profiles claiming to be educational sources for CBD information.

Keeping true to our nature, we have recreated the Instagram post to reflect an accurate post, using the current taxonomical classification system and the 2018 Farm Bill as references.

Edited version of Debunked post

Titled "The Confusion - Clarified,"

we express the difference between hemp and marijuana. The difference between hemp and marijuana has nothing to do with plant taxonomy. Hemp and marijuana both belong to the genus Cannabis. In fact, hemp will eventually become marijuana should it develop more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis of plant material. This causes a tricky situation for several hemp farmers. Hemp farmers must cultivate their Cannabis plants before they age into legally classifying as marijuana.

Therefore, the difference between hemp and marijuana is a direct result of the Cannabis legalization process and should not be confused with the taxonomical classification of Cannabis.

In an attempt to officially debunk this widespread inaccuracy, we have developed a second Instagram post to accompany "The Confusion- Clarified" ...

Taxonomy (which literally means “arrangement law”) is the science of naming and grouping species to construct an internationally shared classification system. The taxonomic classification system uses a hierarchical model that most of us learned back in our elementary biology classes. If we start at the very top (aka life's oldest group of ancestors) we find three different domains: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya.

Eukarya is a domain of organisms that are classified by the presence of membrane bound organelles and true nucleus. 

Within each domain is a second level called a kingdom. Each domain contains several kingdoms. The genus Cannabis belongs to the kingdom Plantae.

Plantae is a kingdom of organisms that are multicellular, autotrophic organisms that contain cell walls made of cellulose.

Within kingdoms, the subsequent categories of increasing specificity are: phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.

The Magnoliophyta phylum includes all flowering plants. Magnoliopsida is a class that includes organism that are Dicotyledonous (Dicots).  Dicots have net-like vein leaves, two cotyledons, a taproot, and floral organs that are in multiples of fours and fives. The Rosales order is largely based on phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequences. The family Cannabaceae sensu lato is a small group of flowering plants with Cannabis being one of 11 genus groups. And finally, the three species, Cannabis sativa L., Cannabis indica Lam., and Cannabis ruderalis Jan., are characterized by their biochemical and pharmacological characteristics.

It is important that misinformation does not become misperceived as common knowledge. If you have a #Cannabis post you would like for us to consider debunking, email it to Blaze Therapeutics reserves the right to chose which social media posts will ultimately receive the debunked spotlight.

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