Does Hemp Get You High?

Does Hemp Get You High?

When it comes to the hemp family confusion and misunderstanding reign. Let’s dive deep and demystify hemp, CBD, cannabis and marijuana.

For starters, to be absolutely clear, no Hemp won’t get you high.

It’s an understandable misconception because marijuana (‘weed’) and hemp come from the same plant, the Cannabis sativa, but that’s where the similarity ends. Phytochemically they’re very different with varying levels of something known as cannabinoids and THC.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Phyto = plant

Cannabinoids – technically known as phytocannabinoids – are natural chemicals found in the Cannabis sativa species. There are at least 113 different cannabinoids within the plants and they all have different biological properties in humans. The most well-known, studied and infamous is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis and a major contributor to the misunderstandings.

What Is THC?

THC is a psychoactive compound and one of the phytocannabinoids present in the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s the principle constituent behind the notoriety of marijuana and – depending on how much of it is present – it does have the ability to create a high.

The key difference between hemp and marijuana is their levels of THC. To be legally grown in New Zealand hemp must contain less than 0.35% THC while marijuana delivers around 25- 30%.

And therein lies the difference and why, no matter how much you smoke, drink, eat or otherwise ingest, hemp will never get you high.

The difference between hemp and ‘weed’ is in the levels of psychoactive THC. Hemp has only trace amounts while marijuana contains up to 30%.

What’s The Difference?

Just as oranges and lemons are close cousins, hemp and marijuana are the same but different.


  • Hemp contains tiny amounts of THC – no more than 0.35% by law in New Zealand.
  • It’s believed to be the first crop cultivated by man in the history of the world and is often described as the world’s strongest natural fibre.
  • Commonly lauded as having “50,000 uses” hemp can be used for fabric, rope, carpet, fuel, insulation, personal products and food.
  • As a food source, hemp seed oil is cold-pressed from the seeds and contains the perfect ratio of omega 6 and 9 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory omega-6 gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Then there are hemp seed hearts, which are deshelled seeds and protein powder from the hemp ‘cake’ left from the oil manufacturing process which both pack an all-natural protein punch.



  • One of the most abundant cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant is cannabidiol (CBD).
  • CBD contains low levels of THC and may even inhibit THC’s effects. Deemed safe by the World Health Organisation, CBD is riding a wave of popularity right now as it is associated with many health benefits including pain, anxiety and depression relief.


  • Marijuana comes from the flower buds of the female Cannabis sativa plant and contains a high percentage of THC which is what gives it mind-altering abilities.
  • It can go by hundreds of different labels including grass, weed, hashish, locoweed and crazy weed to describe it’s psychoactive effects.
  • The terms hemp, cannabis and marijuana are often used interchangeably which is a big misrepresentation as they have different usages and effects.
  • Even though they come from the same plant it is only marijuana that will intoxicate a person.

A Note On Medicinal Marijuana

  • Recreational marijuana and medicinal marijuana are the same and contain high amounts of THC.
  • The human body has an endocannabinoid (ECS) system which produces cannabinoids and works with the central nervous system.
  • Medical research has found medical marijuana can provide therapeutic benefits by working with the body’s cannabinoid receptors which can be found throughout the body in the brain, organs, glands, connective tissue and immune cells.

Adding to the misunderstandings that abound around hemp and cannabis is the cannabis moniker. It’s an umbrella term and the more formal reference for marijuana, which is essentially a nickname that came about during the Mexican revolution.

New Zealand Law:

A license from the Ministry of Health is required to grow and sell hemp legally. The THC must be below 0.35%.content

The Upcoming Referendum

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control referendum taking place at the New Zealand 2020 election is only focused on the issue of the recreational use of marijuana. It doesn’t address therapeutic CBD or medicinal marijuana usage.

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