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What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

“What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?” is one of the most important questions you can ask when starting your wellness journey. Many people assume that the terms cannabis, marijuana, and hemp all mean the same thing.

The bottom line? Hemp and marijuana do not mean the same thing.

To learn more about what is the difference between hemp and marijuana, keep reading below.

You, like many others, may think that hemp and marijuana are the same thing. On the surface, it's easy to group hemp and marijuana together as they are both under the “cannabis” family of plants. However, they possess very distinct properties. So, what is the difference between hemp and marijuana? Let’s dig in!

Cannabis Plant 101

Cannabis plants were thought to have originated in China, and are known for their non-identical flowers. They are wind-pollinated and grow to their full potential very rapidly, some in less than 60 days.

This family of plants is made up of three main sub-classes. These are Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Ruderalis, and Cannabis Indica. Marijuana can be found in both sativa and indica. However, hemp falls only under the Cannabis Sativa species. Although there is close relation, these two plants play completely different roles, and are used for totally different applications.

To really answer the question “what is the difference between hemp and marijuana?” we should start by comparing physical and chemical attributes of the different plants. At a glance they may look the same, but upon closer examination, there are clear differences.


What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana Appearance?

Picture Courtesy CBD+ Origin

If you put marijuana and the hemp plant side by, you will be able to clearly tell them apart. Marijuana has a distinct look that you’ve likely seen on t-shirts, posters and even coffee mugs.

The leaves are typically are broad, they have tight buds and grow relatively short in height. Hemp on the other hand, has skinny leaves mostly found to the top of the plant, and grows much taller (even up to 20 feet).

Hemp farms and marijuana farms look like they are growing two completely different crops. Marijuana has the appearance of a short, bushy plant while hemp has a taller, stalky look to it.

What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana? 
Their Chemical Makeup

When comparing hemp and marijuana, their chemical makeup is one of the biggest differences. While both plants contain a similar profile of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, the concentration of these compounds is what differentiates one from the other.

THC is the psychoactive compound that is responsible for the “high” sensation associated with the marijuana plant. It is found in much higher amounts in the marijuana plant, with some even containing up to 40%. On average marijuana contains between anywhere between 2% up to 40% THC.

CBD is the health-promoting compound that is found in higher quantities in hemp. Hemp is legally required to maintain a much lower concentration of THC, with a maximum of 0.3%. This prevents it from having any mind-altering effects on the user. Because of this, it has a higher CBD concentration, which makes it valuable for creating legal CBD oil products.

What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana Cultivation Methods?

Cannabis has been used by humans since ancient times. This helps to explain the large variety of species and subspecies, each bred for specific purposes.

In the case of hemp, many parts of the plant are used, from the flower to its seeds. Its stalks, for instance, are even harvested for cloth, rope, paper and much more. Hemp plants are usually grown in large plots of land, relatively close to each other. They can survive in a wide range of climates and take around 90-120 days to mature.

Marijuana on the other hand, is bred to maximize the THC concentration and requires much different conditions to grow healthily. They are not usually grown too close to each other and need a more controlled environment that is usually warm and humid. Unlike hemp, their cycles are much shorter, with some maturing in as little as 60 days.

What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
 Their Uses.

Another huge factor in understanding what is the difference between hemp and marijuana are their uses. As we stated previously, marijuana is bred with higher THC content, which can get you “high” so is more suitable for recreational use. It can also be used medicinally but more research is needed and many companies stay away from it due to its intoxicating effects and much stricter regulations. 

In contrast, hemp is used on a wider scale for both industrial and health purposes. In fact, hemp is used to manufacture many common items such as: building products, clothing, protein supplements, oils, paper, food and the list goes on. Hemp has even been used to make cars!Hemp’s higher CBD concentration also makes it valuable for creating CBD oil products, which can be beneficial for those looking to help support their sleep, joints, mood, and more with a natural solution.  

What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
 Their Legal Status.

The legal climate for cannabis is constantly evolving but is moving towards leniency. Countries like Canada have made historic steps in legalization that have helped to steer the global industry in the right direction. In the U.S., there is still a lot to be done across the board but we’re making progress.

In December 2018, the Farm Bill removed hemp from the Schedule 1 drug list and classifies it as an agricultural commodity. This change helps to remove some of the negative stigma caused by its relation to marijuana. As long as hemp and its products contain 0.3% or less THC, it is federally legal and people can now begin to harness its variety of benefits. Marijuana, on the other hand, while legal in 10 states, is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance and is federally illegal.

Have More Questions About the Difference between Hemp and Marijuana? Contact Us Below! 

We hope that this guide helps you to better understand what is the difference between hemp and marijuana. While the plants are related, they have many differences that set them apart.

At Anavii Market, we only sell hemp-derived products. It’s important to make that distinction legally as well as for the different effects they have on the body. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call us at 502-209-8808 or contact us here. 

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