What is Hemp and is it Different than Marijuana?

what is hemp and is it different than marijuana

Posted on March 14th, 2022

What is hemp, and is it different than marijuana? Well, although marijuana and hemp are both varieties of cannabis, there are a few key differences between these plants. Biologically, marijuana and hemp are related, and the two plants look quite similar. This is perhaps responsible for the confusion regarding their properties. But in this post, you will learn the differences between hemp and marijuana, so you can choose the right product for you.

What is hemp? what is hemp and is it different than marijuana

Hemp is a form of the Cannabis Sativa L plant. And so is marijuana, but they do have different characteristics and chemistry. Hemp plants generally contain low levels of the psychoactive phytocannabinoid known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, they contain high levels of the non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD).

This plant serves a variety of purposes. For instance, we get fiber from the plants’ stems,  protein and oil from the seeds, and cannabinoid oils from the leaves and smokable flowers.

When we obtain fiber from hemp, we can make items such as paper, textiles, clothing, rope, and building materials. We can use the whole plant for fuel and feedstock. This makes hemp one of the most versatile plants in the world.

In the US, THC levels legally defines the line between hemp and marijuana. Hemp plants contain 0.3% THC levels or less. Any plant with higher THC levels is considered marijuana. So it remains federally illegal under the US Controlled Substances Act.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis plants flower. They are members of the family Cannabaceae, which contains over 170 different species. But we can further divide the genus into three distinct species: Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis.

We still don’t understand the origin of the cannabis genus. And that’s we have no significant fossil evidence, making it hard for botanists to determine why its evolution diverged from other plants. Instead, researchers use computer algorithms and a “molecular clock” to make their best guesses. Now, they think that cannabis split from a common Humulus ancestor 27.8 million years ago. No matter where it came from, the cannabis classification contains both hemp plants and marijuana plants. But these plants still have key differences.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is the psychoactive cousin of hemp. However, while both hemp and marijuana are part of the same species, they are chemically and legally different.

Marijuana plants have high levels of THC that cause intoxication. This is why marijuana remains illegal at the federal level: THC is a Schedule I substance under the CSA. However, many states have rejected marijuana prohibitions. Increasingly, they’re allowing people to legally cultivate, sell and use marijuana for medical and recreational purposes.

Marijuana is sold in a variety of ways, most commonly as a cured and dried flower. Still, you can subject marijuana extraction processes. That way, you can create concentrated extracts for stand-alone use or to add to topicals, edibles, and other products.

The difference between marijuana and hemp

Nowadays, it’s quite common to see “marijuana” and “cannabis” used interchangeably in the industry, which can lead to some confusion. Since the word cannabis technically refers to the entire genus of the plants that includes both marijuana and hemp, it’s not entirely accurate to exclude hemp when using the term.

Both cannabis and hemp plants contain THC and CBD along with over 540 other substances. The main difference between the two is the amount of each compound they contain. While marijuana contains the intoxicating THC compound, hemp does not produce enough THC to create intoxicating effects.

Hemp produces non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) in large concentrations. Hemp-derived CBD is one of the most popular forms of CBD on the market today. The U.S. classifies hemp as cannabis that does not contain more than 0.3% THC, while the European Union has set the limit at 0.2%. In the UK, the limit is 0 unless the grower has a cultivation license to cultivate industrial hemp with no more than 0.2% THC.

Can you Smoke Hemp? How to Use CBD Oil in Vape Pen? - hot girl vaping

Yes. But it’s a bit more complicated. If you don’t want to get intoxicated, you can still smoke hemp and experience effects from CBD and other cannabinoids. While hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD gummies are all the rage right now, smoking hemp lets you self-titrate in real-time, without having to wait around for the subtle effects to kick in.

You also get to enjoy the added benefit of higher bioavailability. When you smoke hemp, your bloodstream absorbs the CBD faster than when you eat an edible or place a tincture under your tongue. Plus, you will access more active CBD when you inhale smoke or vapor. This is because the CBD avoids your digestive tract, where it naturally loses some of its potency.

What is Hemp Used For?

Today, more and more people are experimenting with hemp-derived CBD oil as a wellness supplement, which explains the ever-increasing popularity of CBD. fibers from the hemp plant are primarily used to make paper, textiles, building materials, and various industrial products. Raw materials like shives, hurds and other woody materials from the plant are used for making absorbents, bedding materials, ceiling panels, particleboards, compost, and other industrial products.

What is Marijuana Used For?

Marijuana is generally used for a variety of medicinal and recreational purposes. As mentioned earlier, marijuana carries huge amounts of THC, a compound known to produce a “high” or a feeling of euphoria. Many medical cannabis users use high-THC marijuana for pain, depression, anxiety, appetite stimulation, inflammation, glaucoma, and epilepsy. Recreational users typically use it to enjoy the feeling of THC in social settings.

The legality of Hemp and THC

Cannabis legality is complex. Hemp is legal federally, while marijuana is federally illegal. Of course, all this is due to THC content.

Under the Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill), it’s legal to consume and cultivate hemp provided it contains less than 0.3% THC. Any amount higher than this and its classification immediately turns to marijuana making it illegal.

On the other hand, state laws tend to differ. In fact, 44 states legalized hemp-derived CBD in one form or another, but 6 states don’t allow any hemp-derived CBD. Another 35 states allow medicinal cannabis use in one form or another, while 27 prohibit recreational marijuana use. Only 7 allow medicinal CBD oil. In 16 states, as well as Washington D.C., you can legally use marijuana recreationally. Today, hemp-derived CBD products have different legal rulings in 16 states.


Hemp and marijuana are both forms of cannabis. While there’s still some confusion around marijuana and hemp, it’s important to know that there’s a huge difference in their usage, application, legality, and chemical components.

Simply put, hemp is great if you’re looking to enjoy the benefits of CBD with no high, while marijuana is ideal for recreational users who want a psychoactive experience. Hemp also has a myriad of industrial and wellness benefits. Understanding these differences should help you decide how to consume the different marijuana and hemp products available today.


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