CBD Explained

Hemp vs Marijuana

In the Cannabaceae family, cannabis is a flowering plant consisting of the three main species such as Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis Ruderalis. However, Hemp  and Marijuana are commonly known as ‘strains’ of cannabis. In easy words, Marijuana and Hemp are simply the two most popular varieties of the cannabis plant which were first adopted into the American culture, but still, they are not yet legitimate connotations for the Cannabis plant.   

Marijuana is different from hemp in various ways such as by its cultivation processes, functions, and applications. But this diversity didn’t stop political leaders from grouping all forms of cannabis as a Schedule I Drug and categorized as an illegal substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

Psychoactive marijuana or cannabis is widely known for recreational and medicinal purposes. Many states are gradually legalizing recreational marijuana, despite this, marijuana is federally illegal. The inception of the Farm Bill 2018, got hemp legalized in the U.S.

Unlike marijuana, hemp can be transformed to use in a variety of ways such as skin products, clothing, healthy dietary supplements, and diverse accessories. Nowadays, you can not only buy legal hemp products online, but can also purchase through many grocery stores, and from everyday businesses. And over 25,000 possible applications can be drawn from hemp.

Even after completing over 50 years of research on cannabis, the government still seems to have some confusion in making out the difference between hemp and marijuana. In spite of the recent legalization of hemp, federal policies surrounding hemp cultivation & sales of hemp-derived products are still up in the air, and on the other hand, the banks continue to categorize or treat hemp businesses like criminals. In rare cases, even there are arrests over hemp, on-route transporting such as truckers, while the transportation is entirely legal.

The Real Opposite: Hemp vs Marijuana

Type Chemical structure Psycho-active Cultivation Application
Marijuana High THC (5% to 40%) Yes Grown in a particular atmosphere with maximum care Medical & recreational use
Hemp Low THC (<0.3%) No Adaptable to grow in most climates with minimal care Body care, clothing, food, plastic, construction, automobiles

Being varieties of the same plant species, marijuana & hemp share many similar qualities and perhaps can appear alike. 

Try not to confuse yourself for hemp and marijuana’s legal regulations and their usage & effects.

To understand the major difference between these two plants, acknowledge these key differences between marijuana & hemp.


CBD and THC Chemical Composition

The chemical composition is the main defining characteristic to make out the exact difference between marijuana & hemp.  

Both the plants have the capacity to produce CBD, one of the non-intoxicating cannabinoids; on the other hand, THC can be produced at different levels.

Hemp plant contains a trace amount of THC: no more than 0.3% by dry weight, while Marijuana can contain high levels of THC up to and more than 30% of the content.


Marijuana and hemp are cultivated for different purposes, so they grow in different atmospheric conditions. To optimize the breed’s characteristics, Varieties of marijuana are grown in controlled environments to produce a female plant that generates budding flowers.  

For the proper cultivation of marijuana, a grower must be aware of the suitable cultivating conditions to maintain each stage of its life cycle effectively. The factors which are responsible to grow marijuana are:- proper temperature, humidity, and lighting

Hemp is grown in indifferent conditions, especially to maximize its size and yield. Unlike marijuana, Hemp is considered as an outdoor cultivated plant which requires proper attention and the level of control.


Due to the difference in THC levels, marijuana & hemp are regulated differently under federal law.  

Under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, prior hemp was regulated as an illegal substance. Under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Hemp is classified as the federally legalized plant and removed from the list of illegal substances and also gave the legal authority for the use of hemp-derived products which contain less than 0.3% THC in them.

Marijuana and products derived from it are still considered as a controlled substance and declared as federally illegal by Drug and Food Administration.


Marijuana and hemp offer a wide range of usages with their different compositions. 


THC, one of the most powerful psychoactive compounds which can directly bind to both the receptors- CB1 & CB2 in the Endocannabinoid System, which is responsible for inducing euphoric or mind-altering effects referred to as being high.


As we all know that marijuana is commonly known for its amusement purposes; after many types of research, it has been revealed that its potential served in a wide variety of medicinal applications.

In contrast, hemp is harvested to produce a wide range of products such as:

  • Food products: hemp flour, cooking oil, and hemp seed-based products, etc.
  • Medicinal products: CBD-infused oils, topicals, bath bombs, etc.

Industrial products: building materials, paper, clothing, plastic, etc.

What is Hemp?

what is hemp

Hemp” is one of the types of Cannabis that contain a trace amount of THC or less than 0.3% content (according to dry weight).

Until the Farm Bill had incepted, the legal definition mentioned above had not been legitimized. Hemp is harvested for industrial use because of its derived products, which has been referred to as non-intoxicating cannabis.

Use of Hemp recorded throughout history, over 10,000 years ago hemp was discovered to make multiple products of its material. It was believed that hemp is the very first crop grown by mankind.

Food, clothing, housing material, rope, paper, and more, hemp with the capabilities to produce such essential resources. Also, hemp has been called the impetus for humanity’s earliest innovations.

What is Marijuana? 

what is marijuana

Marijuana” is a plant classified under the categories of Cannabis that contain a higher concentration of THC (more than 0.3%) by dry weight. It has the capability to induce a sense of euphoric effects or psychoactive effects on the user. 

The use of the term Marijuana is common throughout American culture, but it is considered as a grossly representative variety of Cannabis. In the Cannabis industry, the working people and organizations were afraid to use the term and mainly consider it to be a defamed drug.

In early American history, the primary term used for Marijuana was Cannabis to classify the plant. Prior to the term ‘Marijuana’ was not-existed. 

A million of Mexican refugees migrated to the United States from the Mexican revolution, in 1910-1920. This time the term ‘Marijuana’ aroused with the rise in anti-Mexican sentiments to show a negative correlation of its use by Mexican immigrants.

Soon after, a warning hit Americans of the dangerous & homicidal tendencies caused by using ‘locoweed’ or ‘Mexican Cannabis’ which lead to an even greater rise in anti-Mexican sentiment. 

As the negative persona regarding Cannabis intensified, the government more aggressively began to regulate cannabis. 

Many states by 1927 had started passing anti-marijuana laws by the end of the decade, the fear of ‘Reefer madness’ and the anti-marijuana propaganda was over the air. The nation started imposing heavy, unrealistic taxes on the sale, possession, and transportation of the plant, after passing the ‘Marihuana Tax Act of 1937’. Immediately, at that point in time, the federal government had banned the “Marijuana,” and the Cannabis prohibition continued for the next 80 years.

How Hemp Got Grouped with Marijuana

Nixon, the President signed the Law – Controlled Substance Act of 1970 and declared a “War on Drugs. This law promulgated a set of defamed drugs to be banned & established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Unconditionally, the world’s oldest domesticated crop – Hemp was outlawed. 

Although the war on drugs began many decades before, with cannabis (Marijuana) which was the main target. In spite of the benefits of cannabis also is the safest plant, not only gave a hike regarding the misconception for the plant but also led to the demise of hemp.

In 1970, marijuana was grouped with all types of cannabis after the inception of the Controlled Substances Act and after this, the entire Cannabis was made illegal to cultivate in the US. Thus, this action-driven hemp into a category of a drug even though it doesn’t possess any chemical like marijuana as a drug has.

This unintentionally classified hemp as a drug even after possessing no chemicals, unlike marijuana that makes it a drug.

difference between hemp and marijuana

Final thought: Hemp vs Marijuana

The Ministry of Hemp supports all forms of the Cannabis plant. After noticing the difference between these to the classification of Cannabis, we believe that cannabis should be fully legal for anyone to use it safely for enhancing their lives by improving their health. Whether then, it may be consumed by smoking psychoactive cannabis (Marijuana) or by taking hemp-based CBD.  

Gleefully! Hemp is now declared fully legal by federal laws throughout the nation, though many states and policies of federal regulations are still behind the times. However, Marijuana is yet not got any legal status in the nation, but sooner will become legal, and probably might someday be federally legal too. 

To Know 2020 CBD State-wise Legality in USA read – Is CBD Legal in US?

Despite the ministry supporting all of the plant’s classifications, however, it’s important to recognize the differences between these two. The use of medical marijuana can possibly transform lives for the betterment, meanwhile, all forms of industrial hemp can be used in thousands of ways. Researchers and scientists have only discovered its full potential to benefit society. So, expand your vision & understandings for the different types of uses of cannabis.