Over the past few decades, most strains have been bred to increase the amount of the main psychoactive component, (-)-trans-delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, within the past decade, researchers have become increasingly interested in the medical benefits of another compound found in both plants, known as cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant but is reputed to help with a myriad of medical conditions.
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Although hemp and marijuana are essentially different cultivars of the same plant – Cannabis sativa L – marijuana has been cultivated to concentrate high levels of THC (frequently as much as 18%), in the plant’s flowering tops, whereas hemp, which is primarily grown in Europe to make clothing, paper, biofuels, bioplastics, nutritional supplements, cosmetics, and foods, contains less than 0.3% THC.