Hemp vs. Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

As CBD continues to become very popular, many people are having trouble finding the difference between hemp and marijuana. It may even be difficult for them to decide whether or not to use hemp products or even if these products are legal.

So, what’s the difference between hemp and marijuana? If you’d like to learn more, then read on! We discuss the differences between these plants in the next sections!


What’s the Difference Between Hemp & Marijuana?

Plants and animals are scientifically classified into specific taxonomic groups. This includes hemp and marijuana. Those who are new to hemp have the mistaken idea that hemp and marijuana are two different plants, which are not related. However, that’s not the case.

Hemp and marijuana are two different names for cannabis, which is a flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family. Marijuana and hemp are in the Cannabis genus and the sativa species. The scientific name for both plants is Cannabis sativa. The distinction between these plants is not made by science but by the legal system.

The distinction is based on the substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is one of the cannabinoids (chemical substances) found in the cannabis plant. This is the substance that causes a high, which is often associated with both hemp and marijuana.

There are many different types of cannabis, which can be broken down into hundreds of strains. Even so, they’re all part of the same genus and species.

In the next sections of this article, we’ll take a look at the separate aspects of these plants and how they’re different.


What is Hemp?

Hemp is cannabis that contains 0.3% or less of THC by dry weight. Why 0.3 or less? The rule was developed by Ernest Small, who wrote a book entitled “The Species Problem in Cannabis: Science & Semantics.”

In the book, Small acknowledged that it’s difficult to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. His solution was to create the 0.3 % rule. The number is only arbitrary but did solve the problem of how to tell the difference between the two plants.

The 0.3% rule is used as the legal definition of hemp in the US and other places. Because this is such a low level of THC, you probably won’t become high from using the plant.


What is Marijuana?

Most people, when they refer to marijuana, are talking about the plant that gets a person high. Other terms used for marijuana include “Mary Jane,” “weed,” and others. The legal definition of marijuana is cannabis that contains more than 0.3% of THC by dry weight. What’s more, it’s important to know that the level of THC can vary by the cannabis plant.

Some strains of cannabis have higher levels of THC than others. The most common names for cannabis plants include Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or a hybrid type. Each strain has its own characteristics and effects, at least according to those who use marijuana.



Marijuana and hemp are usually grown differently, even though these plants are of the same species. Marijuana requires specific temperature and humidity levels. In addition, the plants’ leaves should be pruned at regular intervals. The nutrient intake of the plants must also be strictly monitored.

Hemp, on the other hand, is pretty easy to grow. For instance, these plants tolerate being grown close together, and they can be successfully grown in a wide range of conditions. Hemp is a hardy plant that doesn’t require as much care as marijuana. It’s quite easy to grow.


Uses of Hemp and Marijuana

Hemp is a very versatile plant. Its fibres are filled with cellulose, which makes it ideal for many uses, including:

  • Plastic
  • Food products
  • Paper
  • Clothing
  • Textile
  • Animal feed

Hemp is also considered a very sustainable crop because it grows faster than trees and other types of crops. Plus, hemp seeds are very nutritious and contain a complete protein, which is high in fibre. In addition, hemp seeds are packed with nutrients, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, amino acids, and more.

Hemp used for medicinal, or relaxation purposes contains a very low amount of THC. Uses include pain management, stress relief, and more. Because of the low levels of THC, it’s almost impossible to get high on hemp products.

On the other hand, marijuana has a very limited use. It can be used recreationally, ingested (as edibles), smoked, or used for certain types of medical treatments. Some use the plant to get high, while others use the plant for pain management, easing chemotherapy side effects, and more. Any legal use of marijuana is strictly governed by law.


The Legality of Hemp & Marijuana

Lastly, one of the main differences between marijuana and hemp is their legality, which is based on the amount of THC in these plants. As noted earlier, hemp that contains 0.3% or less of THC is completely legal (but not in all places), while marijuana that contains more THC is not legal.

The laws about these products vary from place to place, so it’s always important to know the laws in your area.


What About CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid that has become extremely popular with the legalisation of hemp. Many people enjoy the health benefits of using hemp.

The CBD in hemp doesn’t contain enough THC to make you high, which makes hemp products a great benefit to many people. CBD can be made into tinctures and oils used to treat insomnia, epilepsy, provide pain relief, and more. You don’t have to worry about getting high when using hemp products.


Summing It Up

The main takeaway is to understand that hemp and marijuana are both the same species. What’s more, hemp contains 0.3% or less THC, while marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC.

In addition, it is possible to obtain CBD from both plants. However, CBD products available for sale to the public are only derived from hemp, not marijuana.

It’s legal to sell hemp and hemp products because they contain 0.3% or less of THC. What’s more, you won’t get high from hemp, but you can get high from marijuana. Finally, remember that hemp is legal and marijuana is not.

We hope this guide has helped you learn the main differences between hemp and marijuana!


We offer world-class hemp grown in California, USA with Swiss quality standards. Contact us to find out more.

by | Oct 28, 2021 | Helpful Guides | 0 comments

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