Difference Between Hemp & Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are actually both members of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa L. Cannabis sativa L. can contain a wide spectrum of cannabinoid concentrations, including wide ranging compositions of THC and CBD. Still, there are many practical differences between hemp and marijuana, and clear lines drawn between the two.

In practical use, “hemp” is the term used to describe the food and fiber variety of the cannabis plant, and “marijuana” is cannabis that’s grown to enhance the psychoactive chemicals that make you feel inebriated.

Often, people become confused between the terms cannabis, hemp, and marijuana. Cannabis is a category for a plant species that includes both hemp and marijuana. For a lot of people, the best way to think about cannabis is with an analogy. Hemp and marijuana are to cannabis, as lemons and oranges are to citrus. Two related, but different plants from the same family.

Indeed, looking at the two plants, the physical differences are clear. Hemp is a tall, hardy plant, with less branching, allowing the whole plant to be utilized. Marijuana, on the other hand, is encouraged to become short and bushy, and grow lots of flowers.

In practical use, hemp is the term used to describe the food and fiber variety of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is cannabis that’s grown to enhance the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Due to selective breeding over many years, concentrations of THC in marijuana range from 10% to as much as 30%. Conversely, hemp is almost devoid of THC, but often high in other cannabinoid called cannabidiol, or CBD.

Hemp has 0.3% THC or less, while the threshold for marijuana starts at a THC concentration of 0.31% or higher. In other words, hemp has 33 times less THC than the least-potent marijuana, effectively making it impossible to get high from hemp.

Both forms of cannabis, hemp, and marijuana have been shown to contain medically-beneficial levels of differing cannabinoids, active compounds found in the cannabis plant. However, because hemp oil is extracted from high-CBD, low-THC cannabis, it doesn’t produce psychoactive effects the way THC does, making it a safe and legal option for all age groups and demographics.

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