Hemp vs Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

Hemp and marijuana are both members of the cannabis genus. They are not separate species. The two cannabis types are rather distinguished from one another on a legal basis rather than a biological basis.

hemp vs marijuana

Hemp and marijuana aren’t distinguished by any differences in chemical composition or appearance. Let’s dive into the details of hemp vs marijuana.

What Is Marijuana?

“Marijuana” is an alternative term for cannabis. There are three recognized cannabis species, and all three qualify as marijuana:

  • Cannabis sativa
  • Cannabis indica
  • Cannabis ruderalis

Some scientists lump Cannabis ruderalis with Cannabis sativa, leaving two cannabis species.

Cannabis contains CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids, including CBG, and CBN. It also contains terpenes, flavonoids, and other bioactive compounds.

What Is Hemp?

Hemp, usually termed “industrial hemp,” is legally defined as cannabis that is low in THC. Specifically, cannabis that does not exceed 0.3% THC by dry weight qualifies as industrial hemp.

Hemp is federally legal in the United States, and is grown for a variety of industrial uses. It’s also used to make legal CBD and THC products. For example, our Delta 9 THC edibles are federally legal because their THC is sourced from industrial hemp.

Like all types of cannabis, hemp contains CBD and THC, as well as other bioactive compounds like CBN, CBG, flavonoids, and terpenes.

What Is the Main Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

The only difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC content of a specific cannabis crop. Marijuana plants contain a higher level of THC than hemp.

One could say that hemp is “weak marijuana”; that is, marijuana that has been bred to have less of its trademark psychoactivity.

If a cannabis plant contains more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight, it is considered to be marijuana. If it is at or under that threshold, it is classified as hemp.

For the rest of the article, we’ll use “hemp” and “marijuana” as legal terms for cannabis that is either at (or below) or above the 0.3% threshold, respectively.

Hemp vs Marijuana: Uses and Benefits

Marijuana is used as a recreational substance and has been legalized in many US states. However, it remains federally illegal. Many people use marijuana for medical purposes. Some medical marijuana users take significant doses, while others choose to microdose.

Microdosing cannabis has been growing in popularity over the past several years, as many studies have shown improved results for low doses of THC when compared to higher doses.

Low doses of THC provide a wide array of medical benefits, as do CBD and minor cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana. For example, people often microdose THC for chronic pain management, depression, anxiety, cancer, and other conditions.

Marijuana Uses and Benefits

Medical marijuana is often used to treat nausea, reduce stress, and alleviate symptoms of chronic illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. However, due to the high THC content, people are often apprehensive to try marijuana or are unable to do so due to its legal status. THC derived from hemp can provide the same benefits, and is federally legal.

Hemp Uses and Benefits

Hemp contains low doses of Delta 9 THC, which are shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and alleviating symptoms of insomnia much better than higher amounts of this compound.

It also contains CBD and CBN, as well as other helpful compounds. When consumed in recommended dosages, hemp-derived products don’t contain enough THC to get you high, which is why many people prefer it to marijuana.

Hemp vs Marijuana: Side Effects

At high doses, THC can produce side effects, such as dry mouth, impaired motor skills, perception changes, dizziness, heightened anxiety, and even paranoia.

Due to the higher amount of THC, marijuana is more likely to cause these side effects than hemp. Hemp products, such as our edibles with hemp-derived Delta 9 THC, are unlikely to cause side effects if you stick to the recommended dosage.

Hemp vs Marijuana: Legality

While medical cannabis, and even recreational cannabis use, are legal in some US states, marijuana is not federally legalized in the US. However, under certain conditions set by the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp products are legal on a federal level—even if they contain THC.

Hemp Legality

As of 2018, hemp is legal on a federal level in the US. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, known as the 2018 Farm Bill, legalized industrial hemp production, which means hemp is legal to produce, sell, and consume. Hemp legalization opened the doors for hemp-derived products, such as our THC gummies, to be legally sold and consumed.

The Farm Bill defined the following two criteria under which hemp products containing Delta 9 are federally legal.

  1. the THC concentration in products cannot exceed 0.3% THC by dry weight
  2. the Delta 9 THC has to be extracted from hemp, not marijuana

All our edibles and Delta 9 gummies are made in compliance with these two conditions. Ergo, our products are federally legal in the US.

Marijuana Legality

Unlike hemp, marijuana is federally illegal in the US and is considered a controlled substance.

Despite its federal status as a controlled substance, some states have legalized marijuana, either partially or completely.

State Medical Marijuana Legality

Some states allow marijuana usage for medical purposes only. In these states, medical marijuana use requires one to get approved for a medical marijuana card and purchase marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary.

The following states have legalized medical marijuana, while keeping recreational marijuana use illegal:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

State Recreational Marijuana Legality

The following states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, meaning there are no restrictions on marijuana usage in these states.

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Final Thoughts: Hemp vs Marijuana?

If you’re looking for a way to consume legalized cannabis, hemp is the way to go. People new to cannabis will also benefit more from hemp, as marijuana can cause temporary side effects if you take too much of it.

If you’re looking for legal, hemp-derived products, our THC gummies are a terrific way to microdose THC, CBD, and other beneficial compounds. And, if you’d prefer hemp edibles without THC, we offer an array of vegan CBD hemp gummies to choose from.

Buy Hemp Edibles Online

When it comes to consuming cannabis legally, hemp edibles can’t be beat. Our edibles are made from hemp cultivated on hemp farms right here in the United States, and we only use premium ingredients. 

Free Nationwide Shipping ... Always :)

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All our gummies, including our CBD gummies for sleep and our gummies with melatonin, are fully vegan.

FAQ on Hemp and Marijuana

What does a hemp plant look like?

Hemp plants are indistinguishable from marijuana plants by appearance. Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis. Cannabis has slender, cane-like stalks and palmate-shaped leaves. Hemp flowers are small and light green with a yellow tint to them.

Does marijuana contain CBD?

Yes, marijuana contains CBD. Cannabis flowers have the highest CBD potency, both in marijuana and hemp plants. Flowers also have the highest THC potency, while leaves contain marginal amounts of this compound.

What is the difference between a strain and a species?

When it comes to cannabis, species refers to three main varieties of cannabis—Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalis, and Cannabis sativa plants.

Strains are unique variations of the same cannabis family species. Each of these species has a wide array of cannabis strain varieties.

Different marijuana strains are known to produce different effects. For example, some weed strains alleviate anxiety, while others can exacerbate it. When it comes to hemp flower strains, their unique effects are much less noticeable due to their low THC content.

Are CBD products made from hemp or marijuana?

Cannabidiol (CBD) products can be made from either hemp or marijuana, but only hemp-derived CBD products are federally legal in the US.

The most common hemp CBD products include CBD oils, CBD tinctures, CBD edibles, and even CBD topical products (such as a shower gel, bath bomb, or hand cream).

For more CBD content, check out our full spectrum CBD vs broad spectrum CBD blog post. And, if you want to experience the benefits of hemp-derived CBD, give our full spectrum CBD gummies a try.

What are the differences between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD?

There are no differences between CBD derived from hemp and CBD derived from marijuana. Therefore, if you want to get the benefits of CBD, you can do so by consuming either hemp or marijuana products.

Of course, if you want to take CBD legally (and live in a state that doesn’t allow marijuana use), hemp products with CBD, such as our gummies infused with broad spectrum CBD extract, are the way to go.

Does hemp oil interact with any medication?

Yes, hemp oil can interact with some medications. Hemp seed oil drug interactions include anticoagulants, anti-epileptic drugs, and antidepressants. If you are taking any medication, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking hemp oil or food products infused with hemp compounds.

Can I smoke hemp?

Yes, you can smoke hemp, just like you would marijuana flowers. However, smoking hemp is the least healthy way to get the benefits of this plant. If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to smoking hemp, check out our wide range of edibles made from hemp, such as our gummies for sleep and gummies infused with CBN.

What is better: hemp or cannabis products?

Hemp and cannabis plants are the same thing, so hemp products are cannabis products. If you are wondering how hemp products compare to products made from marijuana, our vote goes for hemp. Not only are hemp products legal in the US, but they are also much less likely to cause side effects than marijuana products.

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