Difference between Hemp and Marijuana and Its Extracts

    Difference between Hemp and Marijuana and Its Extracts

    Difference between Hemp and Marijuana and Its Extracts 150 150 Moon Team

    Difference between Hemp and Marijuana and Its Extracts

    Hemp, marijuana, and cannabis are widely used interchangeably. Although these terms are interrelated, they mean different things –culturally and botanically. 

    If you’ve thought marijuana and hemp mean the same thing, read on to find out their differences. 

    This article explains the difference between these plants and their relationship with cannabis. 

    Without much ado, 

    What is Hemp? 

    Hemp is a cannabis specie. The plant is remarkable for its low THC concentration. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant, responsible for the ‘high’ associated with cannabis usage. 

    So, although THC has as many therapeutic potentials as CBD, the latter [CBD] is widely more tolerated, particularly in the medical and legal niches.

    In the US, for instance, hemp is considered safe and thus legal at the federal level. Although the plant is not recognized by the FDA as a prescription drug treatment for any health condition – except Epidiolex, a CBD-infused drug for epilepsy – it is widely sold as a supplement. 

    Noteworthily, the Agriculture Improvement Act, (known as the Farm Bill), defines hemp as products with less than .3 percent THC level. Any product with over the .3 percent benchmark is considered marijuana. 

    Besides medicals, the hemp plant has also been resourceful in the production of biofuels and textiles. 

    Even more, the seeds are used to produce hemp seed oil or eaten. The flowers are also exploited and extract infused into cosmetics and edible products.

    What is Marijuana? 

    Hemp’s cousin.

    Both hemp and marijuana are plants from the cannabis family, scientifically referred to as Cannabis Sativa L.

    While the hemp plant is high in CBD and low in THC, its marijuana relative is the reverse –  CBD-rich, THC-low.  

    Marijuana’s high THC concentration makes the plant mainly used for recreational purposes.

    While CBD-rich hemp is becoming more popular for its safe and widely-tolerated nature, the intoxicating THC-packed marijuana has tall legal walls. In the US, for instance, the herb is considered illegal federally.

    However, some US states have decriminalized the use of marijuana and established regulations for its production and distribution – both for medical and recreational use among adults.

    The marijuana plant is processed into several forms. The most common among recreational users is the cured flower. As with the hemp plant, marijuana can be extracted and sold for infusion into topicals, edibles, tinctures, etc. 

    What About Cannabis?

    Cannabis is a common name for members of the cannabaceae family. This large family consists of about 170 species – including hemp and marijuana. Cannabis is grouped into three major subfamilies, including Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis Ruderalis

    So, although the hemp and marijuana plants have their differences, they are both cannabis. 

    Let’s quickly discuss, a little in-depth, four primary differences between Marijuana and Hemp Plants

    Differences Between Marijuana and Hemp

    Hemp and marijuana are similar. From looks, knowing their differences can be almost impossible.

    But with the differences in application and benefits, as well as legal regulations, you sure want to clear out your confusion. 

    Here are the key differences between hemp and marijuana you should know.


    One key distinguishing factor between marijuana and hemp is the different composition.

    Both marijuana and hemp contain CBD and THC. However, while hemp is CBD-dominant, marijuana contains more THC. 

    While THC content may reach 30 percent in marijuana, it does not exceed 0.3 percent, by dry weight, in legal hemp. 


    With different THC levels, marijuana and THC have their individual regulations.

    Hemp, which was once regarded illegal and placed under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, is now legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill legalizes hemp and its products with THC levels not exceeding .3 percent. 

    While some state laws allow marijuana for recreational and/or medical purposes, it remains federally illegal. 


    Marijuana and hemp are grown for different reasons; hence they are grown under unique conditions. 

    Marijuana plants are carefully bred under controlled circumstances to boost the plant’s components and produce female plants with flowers. 

    For best practice, factors include lighting, temperature, and humidity must be well regulated. Also, marijuana demands close attention at every stage.

    Hemp, on the other end, is grown primarily to maximize quantity – yield and size. For this, hemp plants are preferably grown outdoors and do not necessarily need all the regulations, and attention marijuana seeks. 


    Due to their unique compositions, both plants have their unique uses. 

    While marijuana is widely known for its recreational uses, research reveals several potential therapeutic applications.

    However, hemp may have more widespread applications than marijuana. Among the lot, here are common areas hemp can be used:

    • Food productions, including cooking oil, hemp-seed oil, and related products
    • Industrial purposes – or products such as textile, building materials, paper and plastic
    • Medicals – CBD-infused tinctures, topicals, and capsules are increasingly popular for therapeutic applications. 

    Hemp- Vs. Marijuana-Based CBD 

    Here’s another confusing subject.

    Given their different nature and components, expectedly, hemp-based CBD should be distinct from a marijuana-based variant. But that isn’t the case.

    Whether from marijuana or hemp, CBD’s molecule, as well as its pharmacology, are precisely the same. So regardless of its source, CBD is CBD.

    However, concerning legality, CBD is not CBD. 

    Confused? Don’t be!

    Here it is – while CBD is the same regardless of source, the Farm Bill stated, categorically, that only “hemp-derived” products with less than .3 percent THC is federally legal. 

    This means marijuana-based CBD, whether it contains more or less than .3 percent THC remains federally illegal.

    Last Notes – Hemp Vs. Marijuana 

    While it can be somewhat tricky differentiating hemp from marijuana, hopefully, the explanations in the guide detail the main differences.

    The terms marijuana and hemp are widely misapplied. Knowing which is what will help us understand what exactly we’re dealing with, particularly as to avoid both health and legal complications. 

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