For many people who know the effects of marijuana, whether positive or negative, they may not know about the differences and benefits of hemp.

What is hemp? Is it like marijuana? What are the chemicals in it? Is it legal?

Hemp is a species of cannabis (so like marijuana) with lower amounts of THC, the psychoactive chemical that gets people high. Yes, it is completely legal. Normally hemp is used for its fibers and making crafts, but the bud can be used to smoke too.

Hemp buds contain some THC, but mostly it’s made of CBD, the chemical that lowers stress and brings that relaxed, calming effect. Hemp and CBD oils are healthier for the user, simply because the psychoactive element isn’t as active.

CBD can lower anxiety and help with insomnia, but THC can heighten anxiety, paranoia and other mental health issues depending on the user.

In essence, using CBD is more of a head high rather than a body high. Smoking marijuana can sometimes make the body feel heavy, appetite spikes and sometimes people experience more than what reality owes them. CBD relaxes the body, can increase drowsiness in certain settings and slows thought processes (great for people with anxiety).

A couple new stores opened in Johnson City and Jonesborough over the summer and sell hemp. The East Tennessee Hemp Company and The Hemp Store (THS) sell hemp to anyone over the age of 18. They sell bud, oils and edibles for anyone with a specific preference.

For first time users, please be careful and treat CBD with respect, much like drinking.

Though it’s completely legal, please be careful when using the products. Hemp looks and smells exactly like marijuana, and police may be inclined to believe the hemp isn’t marijuana without proof of legal purchase from one of these stores.

I certainly believe the long debate for decriminalizing marijuana will come to a close soon. If Tennessee has legalized hemp, it’s only a matter of time before the state legalizes marijuana too.

Perhaps one day we can all come to an agreement that all vices can be a benefit if used in moderation.