Hemp vs Marijuana

Though most botanists deem all cannabis plants, such as hemp vs. marijuana, to be the same species, cannabis consists of cannabis indica and cannabis Sativa. Skeptics hold that marijuana is Sativa, hence similar to hemp. However, others say it is more of the indica strain. But in general, Sativa and indica differ.

Interestingly, science has gone the extra mile to show hemp of marijuana distinction from its chemical composition, species type, and purposes. Keep reading to learn more about cannabis and the best CBD products you can find in the market.

What is Hemp

Hemp refers to a class of cannabis species that has less than 0.3% levels of THC. According to the Agricultural Act of 2018, hemp refers to non-intoxicating cannabis derivatives harvested for industrial use.

Even though hemp has THC traces (no more than 0.3%), the THC content cannot produce visible signs of a “high” or alter brain functions. This means that hemp is non-psychoactive.

Amazingly, hemp has potential therapeutic potential alongside other uses. Since hemp is rich in vitamins, proteins, and minerals, studies posit it may help improve mental and physical health.


  • Hemp seeds may prevent malnutrition and help relieve hunger. This may be true because the seeds are rich in amino acids, proteins, and vitamins. Here are some of the facts about industrial hemp:
  • Some history buffs claim that hemp may have helped Allies conquer Axis during World War II.
  • Since hemp consumes CO2 four times than other plants, it could help overcome global warming.
  • Hemp seeds are more nutritious than flax or chia seeds since hemp seeds contain vitamins A, B, D, & E.

What is Marijuana

Marijuana is a cannabis Sativa plant with more than 0.3% THC content. Studies hold that recreational marijuana THC amounts may range between 5% to 35%. The higher THC amounts permit marijuana to have psychoactive effects, capable of altering brain functions or inducing a “high.”

hemp and marijuana

Otherwise known as Mary Jane, bud, ganja, grass, pot, herb, and weed, among other slangs, marijuana is a greenish-gray dried flower of female cannabis Sativa. Moreover, it is one of the hundreds of chemical compounds present in female cannabis.

Studies show that medical marijuana may have many uses. Some people use it to make tea or mix with consumables such as cookies or brownies. Others smoke it as a hand-rolled cigarette or as blunt.

Research shows that marijuana may help prevent diseases, boost appetite, manage chronic pain, and mitigate nausea and vomiting. Some even claim to experience better sleep with medical marijuana.

However, all these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thus, consumers should not take hemp and marijuana to prevent any disease or intend to diagnose and treat any form of health condition.


Hemp vs Marijuana: Why do People Confuse the Two?

Hemp vs Marijuana: Why do People Confuse the Two?

The key reason why people confuse hemp vs. marijuana is that they have an identical appearance. For explanation purposes, both come from the cannabis family.

Nevertheless, marijuana belongs to both the indica and Sativa families, while hemp only belongs to Sativa. This means that they may have identical appearances.

There are also other reasons why people mistake hemp for marijuana and vice versa. Hemp and marijuana have similar smells and also appear to be identical in color. It would be daunting to distinguish the two from the look of their flowers.

Most people acknowledge that hemp is synonymous with marijuana since they are from the same family. Regardless, the two belong to the same family but are of different subspecies.

What is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

Many use the terms hemp and marijuana interchangeably. However, these two have a vast difference in their meaning. The differences are clear from appearance, legality, chemical composition, application, and cultivation.


Since hemp and marijuana have different potentials, selective breeding has differentiated the two on their appearance. Marijuana plants are short and bushy, while hemp plants are tall and thin.

Moreover, marijuana has more flowers than hemp, which has an abundance of stalks or stems.

Marijuana and hemp also differ in their purposes. Marijuana can be used as a medical Marijuana, therapeutic option, or for recreational purposes. On the other hand, people can use hemp to make nutritional supplements, body cares, clothes, paper, building materials, and plastics.



How marijuana and hemp are grown creates another world of differences. Farmers grow hemp plants outdoors to maximize yields. Whereas its cousin, marijuana, is grown in a greenhouse or indoors to avoid budding flowers.

marijuana cultivation

With that said, hemp is a fiber-rich cannabis Sativa plant subspecies cultivated for stalks, seeds, and oil. In contrast, marijuana is a rich-buds or flower of cannabis Sativa and indica subspecies grown for recreational or medical purposes.


At the federal level, hemp and marijuana are regulated differently. Since the 2018 Farm Bill passage, hemp is federally legal since it has 0.3% or less THC content. On the contrary, marijuana is listed under the Controlled Substance Act hence becoming federally illegal.

Though both hemp and marijuana contain cannabinoids, their chemical compositions differ. Hemp has about 0.3% THC, while marijuana has THC ranging from 5% to 35%. Furthermore, hemp is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), while marijuana has no more than 1% of CBD.

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Final Thoughts on Hemp vs Marijuana

Hemp cannot create euphoria or hallucinogenic effects like marijuana. Hemp derivatives may even help consumers to feel relaxed.

However, consumers should not use hemp products to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any form of health condition. Consult a certified physician before you start using hemp products.

Federally, hemp is entirely legal. However, at the state level, hemp legality varies. For this reason, you should check your state laws before using any hemp products.


Hemp vs. Marijuana FAQs

  • Will hemp make me high?

Are you worried about hemp’s hallucinogenic effects? Worry not. Hemp cannot make you feel high because pure hemp has low THC levels that cannot get you high. Most industrial hemp products are rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and proteins.

  • Can hemp make me fail a drug test?

Drug tests detect only THC or its metabolites, not CBD. Besides, hemp contains low contents of THC that cannot show up on a test. However, some have 0.3% THC, and it is recommended to avoid such products if you undergo regular drug tests.

  • Is hemp legal?

As states continue to embrace hemp-derived CBD products, hemp farmers are worried about losing the market due to hemp illegality. However, the 2018 Farm Bill cleared the fog about hemp legality. From the bill, CBD is federally legalized if it has less than 0.3% levels of THC.

  • Does hemp have THC?

Full-spectrum hemp products may contain up to 0.3% THC. However, this amount cannot cause any visible hallucinogenic effects or get the user high. This means hemp extracts do not alter brain functions. Federally, hemp derivatives must contain no more than 0.3% of THC traces to remain legal.

Updated August 14, 2021.

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