Hemp Vs. Marijuana: What's The Difference?

You would be surprised at how many people ask us what the difference is between hemp and marijuana. We wanted to shed some light on the subject, so we decided to write an article on Hemp vs Marijuana. This should help to explain to you the subtle differences between marijuana and hemp that you may have questions about.


According to the US government, marijuana is a plant of the cannabis species that contains more than .3% THC.  These plants are considered a Schedule 1 Drug by the US Drug and Task Force.  Drugs in this class including marijuana have no medicinal according to the US government.

When ‘medical marijauna’ was first introduced in the states, most if not all of the products were considered marijuana by the federal government.  Since hemp was not included in many of the medical bills, most strains that contained CBD and sold over the counter were marijuana plants. 

If you ever tried marijuana on the streets as a youth, this most likely came from the federally illegal marijuana plant. 

Famous movies such as Cheech and Chong helped spread the popularity of the plant, showcasing copious amounts of marijuana flower smuggled in from Mexico.   

With high amounts of one of the most psychoactive cannabinoids THC, marijuana plants quickly became the most popular on the shelves of dispensaries across the country. 

For the past several hundred years, select growers in the US as well as Europe and other parts of the world have selectively developed strains that are high in THC.  Common marijuana strains include OG Kush, Blueberry, and Sour Diesel. 

Most marijuana buds that are harvested have high resin counts and usually contain an array of other cannabinoids.  This is why the marijuana plant has been used medicinally because it has such a wide array of healing benefits from the added compounds. 


Hemp plants are usually very low in THC.  Legally, in order to be considered a hemp plant by the government the whole plant must contain on average less than .3% THC as discussed earlier.  Hemp is an extremely versatile product. 

The leaves can be eaten for healthy nutrients, oils can be taken from the plant to run automobiles, and the fibers from the plant are so strong they can even be used to create cars and houses.  There’s almost no limit to what the cannabis plant can do!

If you were to purchase cannabis on the black market, especially years ago, it’s likely that it came from the marijuana plant.  It’s also likely the plant your smoked had little to no CBD.  How do we know this? 

Not until recently have growers really been selling and distributing CBD flower.  Before the laws changed last year, many companies were worried about selling the dry flower since it looks so much like the marijuana plant.  Common street weed had no reason to sell CBD flower for a long time so THC strains took over the market. 

Instead of selling the flower, CBD companies created concentrated oils as well as gummies and salves derived from the hemp plant.   These were much easier for the government to accept and many companies operated in the gray area of the law for years. 

Now companies are required to conduct lab testing of each CBD product.  The labs ensure the THC levels stay below the .3% percent required. 

Final Thoughts

To sum all of this up we talked earlier about the two most common forms of the cannabis plant, hemp and marijuana. 

The government has strict rules on which is which so it’s important to remember that hemp plants must contain less than .3% total THC.  Hemp has a wide array of uses from construction to clothing. 

CBD is derived from both the hemp and cannabis plants but most CBD sold legally over the counter in the United States must come from the hemp plant.

CBD extracted from the marijuana plant is considered federally illegal.

Even though states have medical marijuana programs, this does not protect you against federal law if someone were to find products on you over the .3% government level.

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