What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

One common point of confusion in the world of cannabis is the difference between hemp and marijuana. While both belong to the same species, Cannabis sativa, they have distinct characteristics and uses.


Hemp is primarily grown for industrial purposes and is used to produce a wide range of products including textiles, paper, biofuel, and food. It is characterized by its low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, which is the psychoactive compound responsible for the "high" associated with marijuana.

  • THC Content: By law, hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC, making it non-psychoactive.
  • CBD Content: Hemp plants are often rich in CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with numerous health benefits.
  • Uses: Hemp is used in the production of CBD products, dietary supplements, cosmetics, clothing, and building materials.


Marijuana, on the other hand, is cultivated specifically for its psychoactive properties. It is grown to maximize the THC content for recreational and medicinal use.

  • THC Content: Marijuana typically contains 5% to 30% THC, which is responsible for its psychoactive effects.
  • CBD Content: While marijuana plants can also contain CBD, the focus is usually on high THC levels.
  • Uses: Marijuana is primarily used for recreational and medicinal purposes. It is consumed by smoking, vaporizing, or as an ingredient in edibles, oils, and tinctures.

Key Differences

  1. Legal Status: Hemp is legal under federal law in many countries, including the United States, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law in the U.S., though many states have legalized it for medical or recreational use.
  2. Cultivation: Hemp plants are typically grown outdoors and can reach heights of up to 20 feet. Marijuana plants are usually cultivated in controlled environments to optimize THC production.
  3. Applications: Hemp is used in a variety of industrial applications beyond health products, while marijuana is primarily used for its psychoactive effects and medical properties.

Understanding these differences is crucial for consumers looking to explore the benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG, as these are often derived from hemp.


National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) - Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.