Understanding the Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

hemp vs cannabis

The difference between marijuana and hemp is a topic that's all too frequently incorrectly explained. Cannabis flowers plants in the Cannabaceae family, consisting of three main species: Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis.

While marijuana and hemp are regularly referred to as "strains" or "species" of Cannabis, they actually don't qualify as either. In fact, you really can't technically think of them as plants at all.

Marijuana and hemp are really classifications that have been adopted into our culture, but they're not legitimate nomenclature for the Cannabis plant.

In order to clarify the distinction between marijuana and hemp, and clear the smoke on this often misinformed topic, below you'll learn what each term means and how they each relate to Cannabis.

What is Hemp?

The term "hemp" is used for classifying different varieties of Cannabis containing 0.3 percent or less THC content. While it wasn't until the passing of the Agricultural Act of 2018 when this legal definition was legitimized, "hemp" has typically been used for describing non-intoxicating Cannabis harvested for its derived products' industrial use.

Hemp has been the catalyst for the earliest innovations of man with its capabilities of producing critical resources like:

  • Rope
  • Food
  • Housing material
  • Clothing
  • Paper
  • And more

What Is Marijuana?

The cannabinoids found in Cannabis and other plants are known as phytocannabinoids. The best known of all the cannabinoids is THC. THC is popular and comes from marijuana. The term "marijuana" is used for classifying varieties of Cannabis containing more than 0.3 percent THC, and can cause euphoric or psychotropic effects on the user.

Differences Between Marijuana and Hemp

Some differences are:

  1. Appearance

Both look contrastingly different from one another. When you look at marijuana's leaves, you'll see the shape tends to be either:

  • Tight bud
  • Broad leafed
  • A nugget with orange hairs

With hemp, the leaves are

  • Skinnier
  • Concentrated at the top
  • Few leaves or branches exist below the upper part of the plant

When observing the plants from a distance, hemp is usually taller and skinnier whereas marijuana looks like a short fat bush.

  1. Chemical Makeup

The primary difference between hemp and marijuana is its chemical composition, particularly in THC. The average batch of marijuana could contain anywhere from five to 20 percent THC content — 25 to 30 percent in some premium marijuanas. Hemp has no more than 0.3 percent THC content, basically making it impossible to get a "high" or feel a psychoactive effect.

  1. Cultivation

The environment in which marijuana and hemp are grown is very different. You grow hemp close together and often in large multi-acre plots. You can grow it in a variety of climates, and it has a 108 to 120 day growth cycle. Marijuana, on the other hand, requires a carefully controlled, humid and warm environment for proper growth. It has a 60 to 90 day growth cycle, and can't be grown too close to each other. Usually, it needs to be about six feet apart.

  1. Uses

Different uses might include:


Research, over the years, has yielded results suggesting marijuana might be beneficial in treating certain conditions, such as:

  • Chronic pain: A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine review evaluated over 10,000 scientific studies on the adverse effects and medical benefits of marijuana. One area they closely looked at was using marijuana for treating chronic pain. The review showed marijuana was effective at treating and alleviating chronic pain.
  • Drug addiction and alcoholism: Another review the journal Clinical Psychology Review published showed using marijuana might help individuals with opioid or alcohol dependencies tackle their addictions.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Social Anxiety: This review also evaluated using marijuana for treating mental illness symptoms. The authors found some support that using marijuana may help relieve post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms. It also indicates some evidence suggesting marijuana may even ease symptoms of social anxiety.

There are many other conditions marijuana is being used as a therapeutic treatment including cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis, and more.


Hemp is harvested for producing a wide array of products, including:

  • Food products like hemp flour, cooking oil, and hemp seed-based products
  • Industrial products like clothing, paper, plastic, and building materials
  • Medicinal products like CBD-infused topicals and CBD oil tinctures

There's definitely some need for re-educating America about marijuana and hemp, but to reverse this problem, it will take some time. It's important you understand what each term means, the way they're used, and how they related to Cannabis since the terms are used in a legal context. You'll want to know your rights, and avoid any possible legal problems when using CBD products.

CBD-Infused Pillow

If you're considering using CBD products, you may benefit from using a CBD-infused pillow when you sleep at night. CBD-infused pillows come with a NO THC certification so you'll know for sure you're in legal compliance, and the CBD quality is from hemp grown in harvested in the US. Your CBD pillow will be soft, comfortable, and can provide you with many benefits, such as:

  • Treating chronic pain
  • Relieving anxiety
  • Helping you sleep
  • Helping with skin care
  • And more

Place your CBD-infused pillow order today to experience a myriad of potential benefits from exposure to the amazing CBD compound!