Hemp is not Pot
First, let's get one common misconception out of the way. Marijuana and industrial hemp are not the same thing. Let's hear from Dr. David P. West, who holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota. (There's lots more information on the myths and realities of hemp and marijuana at the link.)
Botanically, the genus Cannabis is composed of several variants. Although there has been a long-standing debate among taxonomists about how to classify these variants into species, applied plant breeders generally embrace a biochemical method to classify variants along utilitarian lines.
Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids. Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two preponderate: THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis, and CBD, which is an antipsychoactive ingredient. One type of Cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and low in the antipsychoactive cannabinoid, CBD. This type is popularly known as marijuana. Another type is high in CBD and low in THC. Variants of this type are called industrial hemp.
The conflation of the word "marijuana" and the word "hemp" has placed a heavy burden on public policymakers. Many believe that by legalizing hemp they are legalizing marijuana. Yet in more than two dozen other countries, governments have accepted the distinction between the two types of Cannabis and, while continuing to penalize the growing of marijuana, have legalized the growing of industrial hemp. The U.S. government remains unconvinced.