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What is the Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp?

You’ve probably heard a lot about both marijuana and hemp, and you may be wondering what the difference is. Marijuana and hemp are both part of the cannabis plant family. However, the differences quickly becomes apparent when you look at the substances they contain and what they’re bred for.

Hemp contains only a very small, negligible amount of THC. THC is the substance associated with marijuana, the exact compound that is responsible for the ‘high’ that people feel when they consume marijuana. The levels of THC in marijuana are much higher at nearly 30%, and that is why people use it in order to alter their state of consciousness. Hemp contains more CBD, a compound that doesn’t intoxicate the system, but has numerous health benefits. So marijuana, a plant from the cannabis sativa family, has high levels of THC – the compound responsible for the ‘high’ – and low levels of CBD; Hemp, also a plant from the cannabis sativa family, has really low levels of THC, and really high levels of CBD. It’s all about the chemical composition of these plants.

There is an interesting history on cannabis and how it came to be called marijuana, and a fear-based smear campaign that followed, to make us afraid of it. With all of it’s benefits, it’s now becoming clear why they wanted it gone.


The main use of hemp is as a fiber. It is used to make ropes, paper, and even hemp clothing. You’ve probably seen necklaces made out of hemp as well. As cannabis becomes legalized in states around the United States, the possibility of hemp becoming a cash crop for many products increases. In Japan, profitable hemp crops are used to make fabric for Japanese clothes and accessories.

Hemp has been bred over many years for consumer and industrial purposes, as mentioned. The plant is valued for its fibrous, strong texture. It is selectively bred to bring out this feature. Marijuana, on the other hand, is bred across many different strains in order to contain high levels of THC on its buds in the form of trichomes.

Hemp is far easier to grow than marijuana. It thrives in many climate conditions, and its stalks grow tall and strong. It does not require pesticides, so it makes for a desirable crop. Some states such as Kentucky hope that hemp will be the new tobacco in terms of a cash crop with numerous industrial applications as well as consumer uses.

Although hemp and marijuana are both members of the same family – cannabis sativa – there are many differences that exhibit the natural benefits of these two unique plants. While marijuana is used in order to alter a person’s state of consciousness with an intoxicant, hemp is very different. Hemp is used to make many consumer products like clothing and rope. It also has industrial building potential. It does not get a person high, but it does have many health benefits if consumed orally via sublingual oil or gummies, or even topically, with healing body oils. Hemp is carefree plant, and its potential for economic growth in the United States is just starting to break through the soil and see the sunshine.