Hemp vs. Marijuana – The Main Difference You Need To Know

[Editor’s Note: Basic information on the differences between hemp & cannabis. We would disagree that CBD is not psychoactive. While much more mild, CBD does contain some psychoactive characteristics.]

For over a century, misinformation has been breeding about the cannabis plant and its cousin, the hemp plant.

In fact, the distinction has become so blurred that most people use the terms – cannabis, hemp, and marijuana – interchangeably. This has led to misunderstandings regarding the real usage of hemp and kept people away from accessing its true benefits. This post aims to unveil the differences between hemp and marijuana in the simplest possible manner.

The Anatomical Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

At a quick glance, it’s impossible to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana since the two look similar in terms of appearance. But, appearance is just the tip of the iceberg.

Marijuana has dense buds, a “bushy” appearance, and broad leaves. Hemp, on the other hand, has skinny leaves. It grows skinnier and taller than marijuana. If you hold the two plants next to each other, you should clearly be able to see these subtle differences.

Now, let’s talk about what is arguable the most important distinction, which is based on their chemical composition.

Hemp vs Marijuana: The Composition

This is probably the most significant difference that people need to know.

Cannabis carries a range of compounds called cannabinoids – CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) being the two most dominant ones.

Both of these cannabinoids have benefits to offer to the human body. However, tetrahydrocannabinol is a psychoactive substance, which is what causes the ‘high’ and the sense of euphoria when using marijuana.

CBD, however, carries no psychoactive properties.

This is the BIGGEST difference between hemp and marijuana.

Hemp carries almost negligible levels of THC (<=0.3%, typically), whereas marijuana is rich in THC, with concentrations as high as 15 – 40%.

It’s due to this major distinction that industrial hemp farms cultivate it for a variety of different uses.

Hemp vs Marijuana: The Difference Of Usage

Since marijuana contains higher amounts of THC, it is often used for its psychoactive properties.

Hemp, however, has a number of industrial purposes. It is used for making hundreds of resources, such as biofuel, building materials, food products, clothing, oils, paper, etc. – just to name a few. CBD is growing exponentially in popularity all across the globe. Therefore, the cultivation of hemp is also increasing for the purpose of producing a variety of products that have little to no trace of THC.

The Legality Aspect

The presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does not only dictate how hemp and marijuana are used across a wide spectrum, but it’s the key governing factor that dictates the legality of these plants.

The laws related to hemp/marijuana usage are different in each country and state. The protocol regarding cultivation and transportation of hemp – as well as its usage and sales – varies depending on the amount of THC in it.

In the USA, hemp containing less than or equal to 0.3% of THC is classified as legal. If we talk about the rest of the world, then most countries have kept the allowed THC content in the hemp plant as low as 0.2%.

Since hemp is naturally low in THC, most countries have deemed it legal.

The landscape surrounding marijuana has started to change as many countries – including the United States – are seeing the massive medicinal and economical implications this plant could have. As a result, some places have legalized marijuana. But, it’ still illegal in many counties, and in the United States, it is illegal on a federal level.

Final Thoughts

It should be abundantly clear that although hemp and marijuana come from the same family, they have a number of important differences. Whether you talk about the anatomy, chemical composition, usage, or even legality, there are some important distinctions that need to be made to not confuse the two.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice or reflect the views of the publication.

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