TULSA, Okla. - Four people were arrested recently in Osage County, Oklahoma on accusations of trafficking marijuana, but they claimed it was a shipment of hemp. Plenty of people, including some law enforcement officers, don’t know the difference between the two.
Chip Paul, an author of State Question 788 that legalized medical marijuana in Oklahoma and the president of Oklahomans for Health, said hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants and the difference is the level of THC, the chemical compound that produces a high, in each.
Federal government regulations define hemp as having 0.3 percent THC. Marijuana naturally produces a higher level of THC.
Hemp is grown mainly for industrial purposes and had its governing laws loosened recently by the federal government so more people could transport, work with and access it. Most notably, it is used in the making of cannabidiol, or CBD, oil.
Marijuana is still heavily restricted, if not outright illegal, depending on which jurisdiction you are in.
Osage County District Attorney Mike Fischer said the alleged hemp confiscated in Pawhuska last week had clear signs under a microscope that it was in fact marijuana. He described hemp as the male version of the plant and marijuana as the female version.
"There were clear male and female differences we could see, and what I saw was clearly what for this story could be classified as female," Fischer said.