Marijuana vs. Hemp

A very common question I get asked revolves around the differences between marijuana vs. hemp. Most people, until a couple of years ago, were completely unaware that the two were more or less identical, except for a couple of minute differences. Hemp, also known as Industrial Hemp, has a long and interesting history in the United States. The same can be said for marijuana.

In this article, we will take a look at the common differences between hemp and marijuana.

The Cannabis Plant Family

The cannabis plant family offers some wonderful therapeutic health potentials – this should not surprise you. Cannabis was used in ancient Roman and Chinese medicine for wound healing, menstrual disorder, seizures and tapeworm infection. The cannabis family is made up of three important species which all differ based on their growth pattern and concentration of plant-based chemicals (phytochemicals, or phytocannabinoids). This is the first difference to remember when discussing differences in marijuana vs. hemp.

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  1. Cannabis Indica
  2. Cannabis Sativa
  3. Cannabis Ruderalis

The plant is further sub-divided into two broad categories…

  1. Hemp, or Industrial Hemp
  2. Marijuana

In an early attempt to differentiate between marijuana vs. hemp, most people believed that marijuana came from the female plant while hemp is derived from the male plant. In some cases, the classification was based on the fact that marijuana is a drug while hemp is not. Although these differences may not be technically wrong, the focus was on the wrong criteria.

Let’s take a look at each category and their specific characteristics.

The Hemp Plant

This is a class of cannabis plants that was long cultivated for industrial purposes, hence the name ‘Industrial Hemp.’ Its low concentration of THC makes it a prime choice for the extraction and production of CBD products. Apart from serving as a raw material (a.k.a. biomass) for the CBD industry, hemp is also a good substance for building materials, clothing, composite materials, cordage, cosmetic, food industries, paper, plastic, and clothing.

hemp leafFigure 1.0 – Hemp Leaf

If you found your way to this website, you are more than likely at least somewhat familiar with CBD, or cannabidiol. For a long time, hemp was illegal in the United States. It has always been somewhat of a grey area for Americans. There are even some pretty interesting conspiracies you can look into that involve hemp. Hemp became decriminalized in 2018 with the passing of the Farm Bill of 2018. Since then, CBD products have flooded the marketplace.

The Marijuana Plant

Marijuana is a plant that naturally contains a controlled substance known as THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC has been widely utilized for both medicinal and recreational properties. It has a high THC content which makes it unsuitable for the production of CBD based products. It contains more than 483 different compounds with cannabinoids being the most active compounds. Terpenes fall second to cannabinoids in popularity.

marijuana vs. hemp, leafFigure 2.0 – Marijuana Leaf

THC is a psychoactive compound responsible for people feeling ‘high.’ This compound is still regulated heavily within the United States, and is the main difference between marijuana vs. hemp.

Main Differences of Marijuana vs. Hemp

There are other differences between hemp and marijuana besides THC content. Outside of a molecular standpoint, here are some other key differences between marijuana vs. hemp…

  1. Uses – Hemp is more of an industrial plant than cannabis. It produces the toughest fiber in the world. Information gathered from research reveals that scientists are presently exploring the possibilities of biofuel extraction from the hemp plant. The vast majority of marijuana is channeled into medicinal and recreational use because of the THC content.
  2. Growth pattern – Hemp plants are a product of several years of crossbreeding cannabis plant to eliminate the possible presence of THC. Hemp plants can grow faster, taller and hardier than marijuana and may require a controlled environment for proper growth and development. Hemp plants have a tendency to grow long, lengthy and bulky stalks. These stalks are where their strong fiber comes from.
  3. The concentration of CBD – As stated earlier, the hemp plant contains a higher concentration of CBD than marijuana. This is the prime reason why it is legal in several parts of the world (not all). Many farmers are starting to develop specialized strains of hemp solely for the purpose of growing a highly medicinal product.
  4. Effects on the body – The high concentration of THC in the cannabis plant makes it a good source for psychoactive chemicals. This may interfere with brain activity and cognitive functions by getting the user high. Hemp produces little to no side effects on users, and especially no psychoactive effects.

Conclusion | Marijuana vs. Hemp

There you have it! You now have the knowledge to be able to distinguish the differences between marijuana vs. hemp. For those who wish to quickly review these, here they are:

  • Both are part of the cannabis family
  • Industrial Hemp typically contains a high CBD content, and very low THC content. For this reason, it is now a legal compound.
  • Most hemp will have less than 0.3% THC in order to meet the Farm Bill of 2018 guidelines and regulations
  • Marijuana contains a high THC content and is heavily regulated

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I hope this article helped you get a better grasp on the differences between marijuana vs. hemp. Feel free to check out any of our other educational articles.

 

References

Basic Journal of Medical Sciences: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6387667/
Food and Drug Administration: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process
Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/hemp-vs-marijuana
How Stuff Works: https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/question211.htm
Phys.org: https://phys.org/news/2010-10-hemp-viable-biodiesel.html
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-teenage-mind/201105/history-cannabis-in-ancient-china
Systematic Reviews Journal: https://systematicreviewsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13643-019-1243-x
United States Senate: https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/2018-farm-bill
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany: https://www.jstor.org/stable/23418014?seq=1
Washington State University: http://ses.wsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/WP2014-10.pdf
Way of the Leaf: https://wayofleaf.com/blog/how-many-species-of-cannabis-are-there

3 thoughts on “Marijuana vs. Hemp”

    1. Thanks for the reply! Hope you liked our info here. We get a lot of compliments on the taste of our products, so we are very proud to hear more positive feedback on that. Shoot us an email for a nice discount coupon!

  1. Cannabis Lover

    Thank you for this informative blog. I’ll be expecting to read more like this. Concise yet complete explanation.

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