Hemp vs. Marijuana The Difference Explained

hemp vs marijuana

The question I get most often from customers is “what is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?” Marijuana, hemp, cannabis, weed, THC, CBD, hybrids, sativas, indicas… its very easy to became confused by the vast lexicon associated with the cannabis sativa plant. Two terms that get confused most easily are hemp and marijuana.

If you’ve asked yourself this question, you are not in the minority. Cannabis enthusiasts have been asking this question for decades. Many wonder whether it has to do with plant’s sex, the THC content or, the height and appearance of the plant. Let’s dive into this discussion by asking some questions.

  1. Hemp plants vs Marijuana plants
  2. Are cannabis female plants while hemp are male?
  3. Key difference in Cannabinoid content
  4. Sativas vs Indicas
  5. Where does CBD come from?
  6. Will hemp CBD show up on a drug test?
  7. What is the difference between CBD oil and Hemp oil?
  8. Legal Distinctions

Hemp plants vs Marijuana plants

Hemp and marijuana are both members of the same genus, Cannabis; and the same species, Cannabis sativa. Historically, hemp cultivation was mainly for industrial purposes (industrial hemp) for its seeds, stalks and stems. Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil are high in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and wonderful for heart health. Industrial hemp stalk and stems can be pressed into sustainable building materials. Other industrial applications include turning stems into strong fibers, and woven into line clothing.

Marijuana is a cultivar grown mainly for active cannabinoids, THC being one of the most known, due to its psychoactive effects.

In the United States, the federal government deemed the use and possession of marijuana to be illegal, by way of the controlled substances act of 1970. However, policies for recreational and medicinal use vary state by state.

The medical use of cannabis is legal, with a doctor’s recommendation, in 36 states, 4 out of 5 permanently inhabited U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.

Our CBD products are made with Colorado grown hemp. Our farms use regenerative agricultural practices. Above, is a picture from one of the farms we use! The conscious consumers are increasingly seeking out ROC (Regenerative Organic Certification) products in addition to USDA organic as it reverses climate change. “Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.” (Regeneration International)

Are cannabis female plants while hemp are male?

The common misconception is that hemp plants are male while marijuana plants are female. This is not true. Hemp can be both female and male, so can marijuana. However, the flowers (buds) that we are familiar with are all from female plants.

Key difference in Cannabinoid content

One of the key differences between hemp and marijuana is through their THC levels. The 2018 US Farm Bill codified the distinction between hemp vs marijuana by the percent THC the plant has. In the US and Canada, the legal definition of hemp is cannabis plants with delta-9-tetrahydrolcannabinol (THC) levels of under 0.3% dry weight. All varieties with over 0.3% THC are designated as Schedule I narcotic labeled “marijuana”. There are over 160 cannabinoids in the hemp and marijuana, THC and CBD are the main topics of conversations currently with CBG and CBA coming onto the consumers radar. THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, produces euphoric effect; while CBD, cannabidiol does not. All cannabinoids have therapeutic effects because they interact with the human endocannabinoid system, which I talk about extensively in this post here.

Sativas vs Indicas

Hemp and cannabis both belong to the Cannabis sativa genus. Cannabis cultivators have in generally classified two varieties of cannabis, with thousands of strains under each variety –

  • Cannabis Sativa is invigorating. They have tall, thin leaves, grow best in humid climates, and have a slow grow cycle.
  • Cannabis Indica is sedating. They have short, fat leaves, grow best in mild climates, and have a fast grow cycle.

Marijuana can be sativa, indica or a mixture of the two (hybrid). Hemp is typically classified as a sativa.

Where does CBD come from?

CBD, or cannabidiol can come from both hemp and marijuana. CBD is one of the hundreds of phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plant. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidinol, is perhaps the more famous cannabinoid. Although most CBD extract on the market are extracted from hemp, some CBD oils do come from strains of cannabis that are cultivated for high CBD and low THC; but those are considered cannabis oil and almost always sold in dispensaries and a medical card is required at purchase non-recreational states. Most marijuana strains contain 5-25% THC and 1-3% CBD. While most strains of hemp contain 12-18% CBD on average and less than 0.3% THC.

Will hemp CBD show up on a drug test?

Last month I wrote an interesting blog about How long does CBD stay in your system. In there I talk about whether you will fail a drug test if you take CBD. It’s understandable if you are worried about how long CBD is detectable by a blood or urine test. Many places of employment now require random drug screenings for their employees. Will CBD show up on one of these drug tests? What about the trace amount of THC in hemp-derived CBD oil – will that show marijuana use?

If you are taking Broad Spectrum CBD Oil, it is unlikely that you will fail a drug test. But make sure the company you are buying CBD from tests for CBD, you can see from this test result that our hemp extract contains ZERO THC.

Hemp extract CBD can be a wonderful supplement to your daily regiment due to its therapeutic effects. If you think a drug test may be in your hear future, err on the side of caution and stick with broad-spectrum product or isolates. There are different ways to take hemp extract CBD and depending on your body, it will stay in your system for a week or two after you stop taking it. If this is your first time taking CBD, start with a smaller dosage than recommended and see how you feel. If that amount doesn’t help the condition you are treating, slowly increase the dose in small increments until you find the amount that works best for you. Everyone reacts differently to similar dosages.

What is the difference between CBD oil and Hemp oil?

Hemp oil is cold pressed from the seeds, while CBD oil, or any cannabinoid oil, is extracted from the flowers. Although hemp oil doesn’t contain any CBD, it is still a wonderful oil to add to your pantry. With it’s golden 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, it is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. For this reason, our CBD oil is formulated with a healthy dose of organic hemp oil and olive oil.

Legal Distinctions

Perhaps the most major difference between hemp and marijuana is their treatment under the federal law. Cannabis is federally illegal, yet 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis; and 36 states have legalized medicinal cannabis. Almost all states have decriminalized the use of cannabis.

Hemp, unlike cannabis, is now federally legal to purchase or ship within or between states. The Farm Bill grants authority to each state to write code and regulate the cultivation and production of hemp products.

Marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes (medical marijuana) under a licensed physician in these 36 states.

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Delaware
  9. Florida
  10. Hawaii
  11. Illinois
  12. Louisiana
  13. Maine
  14. Maryland
  15. Massachusetts
  16. Michigan
  17. Minnesota
  18. Missouri
  19. Montana
  20. Nevada
  21. New Hampshire
  22. New Jersey
  23. New Mexico
  24. New York
  25. North Dakota
  26. Ohio
  27. Oklahoma
  28. Oregon
  29. Pennsylvania
  30. Rhode Island
  31. South Dakota
  32. Utah
  33. Vermont
  34. Virginia
  35. Washington
  36. West Virginia

Cannabis use for recreational purposes is legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia (recreational marijuana)

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. Illinois
  7. Maine
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Michigan
  10. Montana
  11. Nevada
  12. New Jersey
  13. New Mexico
  14. New York
  15. Oregon
  16. Vermont
  17. Virginia
  18. Washington

I hope this explains the difference between hemp and marijuana. Please ask any questions in the comment section or in our Facebook group.


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