The Differences Between Hemp & Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are both classified biologically as cannabis, but they have several distinct characteristics. We’ll go over the anatomy, history, use, and legality of hemp in order to get to the bottom of not just what distinguishes hemp from marijuana, but also why it’s such a valuable and versatile commodity.

What is hemp?

Hemp is a dioecious plant that may be divided into male and female plants. For more than 10,000 years, hemp has been utilized for a variety of purposes. We obtain fiber from the stalks, protein from the seeds, oils from the leaves, and smokable flowers in the plant. Hemp fibers can be utilized to make a variety of products including paper, clothing, textiles, rope — and even construction materials.

Cannabis that lacks the psychoactive ingredient THC by weight is referred to as “hemp.” The term “hemp” refers to cannabis with 0.3 percent or less THC content by dry weight. Why 0.3 percent? This definition was first suggested in 1979 in a book called “The Species Problem in Cannabis: Science & Semantics.”

The lack of a formal taxonomic distinction between hemp and cannabis, according to the book’s author Ernest Small, makes it difficult to tell them apart. As a possible answer, he proposed the 0.3 percent rule, but he also recognized that it was an arbitrary number.

The legal definition of hemp in the United States includes this number. Because THC levels in hemp are so low, you’re unlikely to get high. Hemp can be used to make fuel and feedstock from the whole plant, including the stalk and seed. Hemp may be divided into four categories based on its use:

  • Bast fibers
  • Hurds, or shives
  • Leaves and flowers
  • Seeds

Can you smoke hemp?

Yes, hemp can make you high. However, while hemp does contain trace amounts of intoxicating compounds, it will not make you intoxicated. THC is not produced in sufficient quantities by hemp plants to have an intoxicating effect. CBD, despite being a psychoactive cannabinoid technically speaking, is non-intoxicating and does not produce its own euphoric high.

However, if the aim isn’t to get high, smoking organic hemp may be a pleasant and efficient way to experience other cannabinoids like CBD. Now that you can locate organic hemp flowers and pre-rolls online, experimenting has never been easier. While hemp-derived CBD gummies and CBD oil are currently all the rage, smoking hemp allows you to self-titrate in real time — there’s no need for any particular effects to kick in.

There are several advantages to smoking vs. eating or taking a tincture under your tongue, including faster bioavailability and additional advantages. CBD’s bioavailability increases significantly when you smoke it rather than eat or administer it via a tincture under your tongue. When inhaled, the amount of CBD in the smoke or vapor is greater. A CBD edible passes through the digestive system, where some of its strength is lost.

For a cleaner burn, consider using a hemp wick to light your hemp flower. Raw hemp wick coated in beeswax creates a slow burning from all-natural materials that many users claim results in a cleaner cannabis flavor than a lighter or match. The more you learn.

How are hemp varieties chosen?

Hemp cultivars are selected based on numerous criteria, including:

  • Stem quality
  • Cannabinoid content
  • Resistance to disease
  • Time to harvest
  • Hemp oil content
  • Seed production per acre

Cannabidiol (CBD) production, in particular, has grown in importance in recent years. As the CBD market continues to expand, more and more cultivars are chosen based on their CBD yields and distinctive aromatic terpene profiles.

Hemp vs. marijuana: Does hemp also have THC?

Hemp contains a variety of cannabinoids, one of which is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana. Hemp, on the other hand, does not produce enough THC to cause intoxication.

Hemp produces only trace amounts of THC, but it is capable of producing this non-intoxicating cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) in significant quantities. Hemp-derived CBD is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of the cannabinoid on the market today.

The quantity of THC produced by the plant is one way that different countries distinguish hemp from marijuana. Cannabis sativa L. that does not contain more than 0.3% THC is defined in the United States as industrial hemp. The limit set by the European Union is 0.2%, but in the UK, it’s zero unless growers have a license to grow industrial hemp with less than 0.2 percent THC


Cannabis seeds do not include any cannabinoids, but cannabinoids are present in greater amounts in cannabis flowers, leaves, and stalks. Cannabis flower is often used by consumers looking to experience cannabis’s advantages since it can be smoked or extracted into tinctures and edibles.

The effects of cannabis strains high in THC may be felt, and they are used for medical purposes like pain management. Strains low in THC but high in other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), might provide advantages while not getting you high. Hemp, or cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC content, can also be cultivated to produce various products, including:

  • paper
  • clothing
  • textiles
  • animal feed
  • plastic
  • food products, such as hemp seed, hemp milk, hemp protein powder, or hemp oil

Hemp may be used to produce a variety of items, including paper and textiles, because it grows more quickly than trees and other crops. Hemp seed is high in protein and fiber and is therefore quite nutritious.


Hemp and marijuana are two different strains of the Cannabis sativa plant. Aside from the THC content, there’s another distinction between hemp and marijuana: legality. The 2018 Farm Bill made it permissible to cultivate hemp, which contains less than 0.3 percent THC, throughout the United States. It also legalized products derived from hemp seeds.

Cannabis, in which the THC level is greater than 0.3 percent, isn’t legal nationally. State laws differ. It’s permissible to use it both medically and recreationally in some states. In other states, it’s only acceptable for medical purposes. And in several jurisdictions, marijuana is still totally prohibited.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that has grown increasingly popular since hemp was federally legalized. Many individuals utilize CBD products because it is said to have several health advantages. CBD occurs in all cannabis plants in trace amounts. As a result, it can be produced from either hemp or marijuana. If they are made from hemp and contain less than 0.3 percent THC, CBD products are only legally permissible if they are federally legal via the passage of Farm Bill 2014.

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