Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp

CBD cbd

The confusion between marijuana and hemp has gone on for decades. Though they derive from the same species of plant, how they are used greatly varies. To help break things down, here are the major differences between marijuana and hemp.


Both plants are designated as cannabis. Specifically, a flowering plant within the Cannabaceae family. Yet, that’s where similarities stop. What truly differentiates them is tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC.

It’s this chemical that causes the intoxication connected with marijuana. Technically, cannabis is defined as marijuana when its THC levels are above 0.3 percent. Conversely, the plant is considered hemp if its THC value is below that level.


Recently, cannabidiol, or CBD, has been introduced to the market. This is a byproduct of cannabinoids but with different effects. Cannabis with less than 0.3 percent of THC has higher rates of CBD. Thus, much of it comes from hemp plants.

As opposed to the “high” people get when they smoke marijuana, CBD is nonintoxicating. In most situations, the product is sold as concentrated herbal extracts known as CBD tinctures. Companies like HempFusion sell this form of chemical for a variety of issues.


Both marijuana and hemp are useful in completely different ways. According to the National Institutes of Health, medical marijuana, which has less THC and more CBD, has been shown to be helpful in treating several conditions.

  • Epilepsy
  • Side effects (nausea & vomiting) related to chemotherapy treatments
  • Side effects of HIV/AIDS (weight loss)
  • Chronic Pain

Hemp was commonly used as a natural fiber as far back as 2800 BCE in Central Asia. Over the next centuries, it spread across Europe and into North America. Hemp was grown not only for its use in clothing and ropes but also for its oilseed.

Paper, textiles, and certain plastics are made from hemp. Other parts of the plant are utilized for animal feed and several food products. In fact, ingesting hemp seeds provides complete proteins and high amounts of fiber.


To tighten restrictions around marijuana use, the federal government banned the production of industrial hemp in 1970. They lifted those restraints in the 2018 Farm Bill. Not only did it allow the growth of hemp with less than 0.3 percent of THC, but it also federally legalized CBD products derived from this form of cannabis.

Conversely, marijuana is still illegal according to U.S. guidelines. This is despite the fact many states have made the growth, sale, and use of it legal. Nevertheless, those who have done so still have restrictions based on the number of plants one can grow and how much an individual can purchase at one time.

Overall, you could define the difference between marijuana and hemp through business sectors. While the former is normally known for recreation, the latter is connected to manufacturing. Furthermore, the intoxicating levels of the chemicals they produce, THC and CBD, are much different.

As the world changes, we should get a better understanding of these cannabis products. This will allow you to make the right decisions on what you purchase.

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About the Author: John Abraham

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