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The Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

Do you think of hemp and Marijuana as the same? If so, it's time to clear a few things up.

With the number of CBD users on the rise, it's essential to understand the main differences between hemp and Marijuana as they relate to Cannabis. 

So, let's discuss why there is so much confusion between the two, and how hemp and Marijuana differ.

What is Hemp?

The legal definition of hemp is "the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis."

In other words, it's non-intoxicating Cannabis that is harvested for the industrial use of its derived products. Hemp has various commercial uses, including textiles, insulation, biofuel, food, clothing, plastics, animal feed, medicinal uses, and more.

Hemp is one of the earliest crops cultivated for textile fibers during colonial times. It played a pivotal role in the development of early North America until eclipsed by cotton. 

What is Marijuana?

The legal definition of Marijuana is "all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin."

Ironically enough, it doesn't state that it contains more than 0.3% THC. Unlike hemp, Marijuana does have psychoactive elements that affect how the brain works. 

For this reason and many others, Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug. Over the years, Marijuana has been criminalized and used to drive various political agendas.

However, news surrounding Marijuana these days is almost always positive. There are many states where Marijuana is legal for medical use. 

It's becoming socially accepted, and many are fighting to have this plant decriminalized. 

What Are the Main Differences Between the Two?

In terms of the specific differences between hemp and Marijuana, we need to dive into four different categories: composition, legalities, cultivation, and usage.


The characterization of the chemical makeup will tell you everything you need to know. 

As mentioned earlier, The term "hemp" references the Cannabis sativa plant, which holds no more than 0.3% THC in its contents by dry weight.

Marijuana, on the other hand, does contain THC that can reach up to 30%.

Because of THC's more substantial presence, Marijuana will produce intoxicating effects, whereas hemp will not.


The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act effectively set America up for decades of Cannabis prohibition. 

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp was legalized, and hemp's status was changed. 

The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 deemed Marijuana federally illegal and classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

Even though recreational and medical Marijuana is legal at the state level, it is still very much a federal no-no.


Growing hemp and Marijuana requires different growing environments. While this is changing, hemp is mostly grown outdoors for industrial use and requires much less attention than growing Marijuana. 

Marijuana is grown with particular attention placed on the budding flowers with a controlled environment need to breed optimal plants. 

Details such as lighting, humidity, and the temperature all play a part in growing Marijuana.

While Marijuana needs constant attention and TLC, hemp, on the other hand, grows with much less supervision--typically in an outdoor setting to amplify the size of the harvest.

However, the demand for smokeable hemp requires the same approach and care that one places on Marijuana. The future is looking bright for hemp flower. 


Most of what makes hemp and Marijuana different is decades of Cannabis prohibition.  

The fact is, they're both used to make products such as CBD oil, edibles, ingredient-infused drinks, and a whole list of other beneficial uses.

I encourage you to look into the environmental and social impact that Cannabis can have on our world. The list is impressive. 

Why is there so much confusion between hemp and Marijuana?

There are significant differences between hemp and Marijuana. So, how come they are so easily confused with one another?

Well, for starters, they are very similar in appearance. If you put hemp flower in a jar next to Marijuana flower in a jar, you may not see a difference. The look, texture, and smell of both hemp and Marijuana are all very similar.  

Of course, this makes it difficult for law enforcement to distinguish between legal smokable hemp and illegal Marijuana. 

As you can imagine, this causes issues with the public and has even set some smokable hemp bans in motion. Check out our article.

Final Thoughts

Without a general understanding of the Cannabis plant, the categorization of Hemp and Marijuana is impossible. 

This could lead to unfortunate legal issues and general confusion about the Cannabis industry. 

Learn the difference, keep yourself on the right side of the law by always staying informed, and know your rights.