marijuana and hemp

What’s the difference between marijuana and hemp?

You’ve probably seen products that contain hemp being sold in regular stores but never products containing marijuana. So what is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

The Cannabis Plant

Hemp and marijuana are closely related– they come from the same cannabis sativa plant genus. However, there are major differences between these siblings that you should know when navigating the cannabis market.

Before all the cannabis stigma and restriction arose in the early 1900’s, cannabis was used for a variety of products such as clothes, paper, rope, herbal medicine, and as a recreational drug.

Humans have been selectively breeding cannabis plants for thousands of years. Marijuana is cannabis that has been bred for their medicinal and psychoactive potential. Hemp, on the other hand, is a cannabis plant bred for their fibre and seeds to be used in industrial productions.

Image retrieved from Hempeli

Key differences between marijuana and hemp

THC Content

Cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC is classified as hemp, and cannabis with more than a 0.3% (usually 5%-40%) THC content is classified as marijuana. THC is the psychoactive compound that alters your perceptions; the more THC you consume, the more “high” you get.

Hemp’s THC content is too low to cause a change; however, consuming enough marijuana with much higher THC content is what will get you high.

This leads us to their next distinction…


All cannabis products, including hemp, had been illegal since 1970 under the Controlled Substance Act. It wasn’t until the Farm Bill in 2014 and the Agricultural Improvement Bill in 2018 that hemp and hemp-products can now be legally grown and sold in most countries around the world.

Marijuana is currently still classified as a Schedule I illegal substance in most states in the U.S. and the majority of the world. However, many states and countries are shifting their attitudes and starting to legalize medicinal marijuana. Luckily, both medicinal and recreational cannabis is legal in Canada so we can blaze carefree in the streets.

marijuana vs hemp

Difference between Marijuana and Hemp Usage

Marijuana is mainly used for either medicinal or recreational purposes due to its high levels of THC and CBD. These compounds can help:

  • Relieve pain
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Loss of Appetite
  • And a Variety of Other Symptoms

Recreational usage of marijuana is also popular since THC’s psychoactive properties can alter your consciousness, making you feel “high”.

Hemp has been used for industrial purposes for thousands of years. It contains high levels of fibre, protein, and oil that can be used in:

  • Textile Industry
  • Food Industry
  • Skin Care Companies
  • And Fuel Industries
Image retrieved from CBD Origin

CBD oil can be derived from both hemp and marijuana. The molecular composition of CBD oil extracted from hemp or marijuana are pretty much the same. However, many argue that CBD oil extracted from marijuana is more beneficial than that from hemp as it contains the full spectrum of components (such as terpenes, flavonoids, and more) from the cannabis flower.

Difference between Marijuana and Hemp Cultivation and Plant Appearance

Last but not least, hemp and marijuana are grown differently, and therefore they also look very different. Industrial hemp plants are sturdy and adaptable and can be grown in large quantities outdoors. Since they are grown for their fibre and seeds which come from the stalk of the plant, they are tall and skinny.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is usually grown indoors in relatively smaller batches because they are harder to grow and require more attentive care from the grower. Since marijuana is used for its THC, which is found in the cannabis flower, marijuana plants are shorter and bushier compared to hemp plants.

See if you can tell which is which…

cannabis plant
Image retrieved from CannaConnection

TLDR? Here is a picture to sum it all up…

Hopefully this article has clarified the differences between hemp and marijuana! Now you can avoid complications at boarder security by bringing hemp-derived instead of marijuana-derived CBD oil next time you travel.

What are your favourite hemp products? Let us know in the comments below and follow @cannalifenet for more info.