What's The Difference Between Hemp vs. Marijuana?

Hemp Vs Marijuana

It's been reported that 67% of U.S. adults actually support marijuana legalization. But even still, public knowledge about cannabis remains relatively low.

Key Takeaways

  • Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, Cannabis Sativa
  • Hemp contains fewer levels of THC and greater levels of CBD 
  • Marijuana contains greater levels of THC and fewer levels of CBD
  • Both are variations of the cannabis plant which has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain-relieving benefits

That limited knowledge includes the widespread confusion between hemp and marijuana, making the cannabis conversation all the more confusing to navigate. Luckily, understanding the difference between hemp, marijuana, and CBD can help you find your footing in that very conversation.

At Clean Remedies, we've committed our efforts to educating consumers on all things CBD. So keep reading and learn about the major differences you need to know about these versatile plants!

See Related: Is CBD Legal? Everything You Need To Know

What Is Hemp?

The hemp plant is only one specific variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant. In fact, you may be familiar with industrial hemp which has been used for hundreds of years to make anything from rope to clothes, food to sails, to much more.

But hemp and marijuana are differentiated from one another based on their THC content. The 2018 Farm Bill considers Cannabis Sativa plants with less than 0.3% THC to be hemp or industrial hemp.

And this has allowed farmers across the U.S. to grow industrial hemp legally under federal law. This is because hemp flower contains significantly less THC than marijuana, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants.

Both hemp

What Is Marijuana?

For the most part, when people discuss the marijuana plant, they're talking about any form of cannabis that can get you high. In fact, the term "marijuana" is often used interchangeably with "weed," "cannabis," and more.

But legally, "marijuana" is described as any form of cannabis that contains more THC than 0.3% by dry weight. THC content can vary greatly across all cannabis plants found under the Cannabis genus.

Within this genus are three standard varieties of the cannabis plant: Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis Ruderalis. For the most part, these cannabis plants tend to contain higher levels of THC than hemp plants or industrial hemp.

History of Marijuana Plants

While marijuana plants tend to contain high THC, marijuana has still been subject to controversial racial attacks, linking the plant to Mexican immigrants.

During the early 20th Century, several immigrants came to the U.S. due to the Mexican Revolution. And, at this time, the cannabis plant was legally imported to the U.S.

But growing racist and anti-immigrant sentiment drove politicians to utilize the word "marijuana" like they never had before. Rather than use the word "cannabis" to describe the Cannabis Sativa plant and its variations, propaganda campaigns began to equate "marijuana" with Mexicans, who were racially stereotyped as folks who frequently used the flowering plant.

Such propaganda persisted into the 1930s and heavily contributed to the court's decision to make the cannabis plant federally illegal. Even today, there's still debate over whether the word "marijuana" should be used to describe cannabis, considering its racist past.

And, for the most part, this is where the confusion between hemp and marijuana comes from.

Controlled substances act

Bonus: 6 Best CBD Gummies For Stress In 2023

Hemp-Derived CBD vs. Marijuana-Derived CBD

The main difference between hemp and marijuana is simple: hemp contains more CBD and less THC while marijuana contains more THC and less CBD.

The real distinctions just become a little more specific as hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC in order to remain legal. That being said, the potential health benefits of cannabis CBD do not change whether the cannabis oil was extracted from hemp or marijuana.

However, it's important to remember under the legal statute that all CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC, regardless of whether it was derived from hemp or marijuana. If CBD products do not adhere to this statute, the DEA may consider any products containing more than 0.3% THC as a Schedule I drug.

Although, some caveats are made for the sake of medical cannabis and medical marijuana. State laws still vary, which is why the fight to legalize cannabis once and for all remains in effect today.

Uses Of Hemp And Marijuana

Besides smoking these flowering plants, both are used in a variety of ways based on their unique chemistries.

As we mentioned before, hemp has historically been used for building materials, ropes, and textiles, and, more recently, has become a staple ingredient in nutritional supplements, some made from hemp CBD, others made from hemp oil.

Hemp seed oil can be quite nutritious as most hemp varieties are considered a complete protein that's also high in fiber. But cannabis is typically reserved for products made to produce a high, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes.

While cannabis seeds themselves contain no cannabinoids, the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the plant species contain many cannabinoids which become distilled into cannabis tinctures and edibles.

FAQs About Hemp vs. Marijuana

Marijuana explained

Are Hemp Plants And Marijuana Plants The Same?

Both hemp and marijuana come from the same species, but the difference between the two cannot go overlooked either. This distinction namely lies in their CBD-to-THC ratios.

Why Is Hemp Federally Legal And Not Marijuana?

In short, their differing levels of THC. Despite the fact that they come from the same species, legal CBD oil in the cannabis industry must contain less than 0.3% THC. Plants and products with higher levels of THC are considered to be illegal marijuana.

Does Hemp Look Different Than Marijuana?

Yes! Hemp tends to look taller, skinnier, and more durable than marijuana. And its leaves tend to be more concentrated at the top of the flower as opposed to down the stem. In comparison, cannabis has a "bushier" appearance with several more flowers than the hemp plant.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, by now, having had the difference between hemp and cannabis explained can make you feel a little more confident navigating the CBD world. As always, at Clean Remedies, we’re here to help!

Keep Reading: 4 Ways To Celebrate National CBD Day This August 8


Clean Remedies is a woman-owned, independent family business that uses USDA Certified Organic Hemp Extract to create products that are free from harmful chemicals, cruelty-free, and made in the USA, meant to benefit your well being and meet our own high standards of efficacy. For CBD facts, product discounts, and more, follow us on InstagramFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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