Hemp vs Marijuana [Differences and Similarities]

It is a question commonly asked, ‘What is the difference between marijuana and hemp?’. People come up with lots of answers but the real difference is often misunderstood.

This article aims to clear the confusion by explaining the differences and the similarities between hemp and cannabis.

The cannabis plant is known to contain in excess of 100 chemicals, the best known of which are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

THC is the chemical associated with the ‘high’ which users experience when smoking or ingesting cannabis and CBD, which is gaining hugely in popularity, is becoming known for its health benefits without the ‘high’. You can read more about this here.

Marijuana can either come from the cannabis sativa plant or the cannabis indica plant. Hemp on the other hand can only come from the cannabis sativa plant.


Since both cannabis and hemp can come from the same plant why should we have two different names?

The answer is simple, the cannabis sativa plant can be cultivated in different ways so as to produce different strains.

Some cannabis sativa strains will produce cannabis and some will produce hemp. The difference is to do with the amounts of THC contained within the plant.

In order for the plant to be classified as a hemp plant, the THC amount must be less than or equal to 0.3% and anything greater would be classed as a cannabis plant.

Cannabis plants come with varying amounts of THC and some cannabis plants have THC concentrations of up to 40%.

Hemp is used to make paper, clothes, oils etc and CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, using one of a variety of processes, to make CBD products which are gaining increasing popularity for their health benefits.

CBD is increasingly used to treat and control many illnesses and conditions and users report very few side effects.

It is very well tolerated and can be manufactured into oils, tablets, capsules, creams, gummies and vaping products, allowing the user to choose their preferred method of ingestion.

Cannabis is primarily used recreationally for its psychoactive properties.

If you look at the different strains of the plants, they do look quite similar initially until you take a closer look.

The hemp plant tends to look taller and thinner than a cannabis plant. They are grown under very different conditions.

As THC is found mainly in the flower buds of the plant, the growers pay close attention to this part of the plant and in order to maximize the yield, they try to increase the production and size of the buds.

They do this by controlling the conditions under which it is grown, so, temperature and light are important which is why many of the cannabis strains are grown indoors under very controlled conditions..

The legal status of CBD and THC is also different. The legal status of both THC and CBD will be determined by where in the world that you live.

Different countries have different rules concerning the status but commonly CBD can be taken legally whereas THC cannot.

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