Differences Between Marijuana and Hemp

Sep 11, 2020

cannabis marijuana bud hemp

Cannabis, marijuana, and hemp are commonly used interchangeably without considering the difference between them. Cannabis can be used in place of hemp or marijuana but the inverse is not true.

Cannabis is a psychoactive plant grown for both recreational and medicinal purposes. It mainly has three species; Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. These species are further classified into different strains.

Hemp and Marijuana are commonly confused to be either species or strains of cannabis, but this article will explain what marijuana and hemp are, and all the differences between them, ranging from the genetic make up to their uses.

Definition of Marijuana and Hemp

Marijuana refers to all cannabis varieties with more than 0.03% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (using dry weight) which has the ability to induce euphoric and psychotropic effects. Hemp refers to all cannabis varieties with less than 0.03% of THC (using dry weight). The term is widely used when referring to cannabis grown mainly for industrial use.

Hemp has been a catalyst to various innovations, it has been used widely to produce rope, housing material, food, and paper.


Marijuana and hemp have different chemical composition. For this reason, they are grown for different functions and their growth conditions differ too. They can both be cultivated at home for personal use or to make industrial products for sale.

Marijuana is mainly grown indoors where selective controlling is possible. Every stage is carefully monitored with budding flowers as the main target. This is to maximize the THC levels in the plant and to achieve this, lighting, humidity and temperature must be regulated to required levels.

On the contrary, hemp is grown outdoors for maximum yield and size. Outdoor conditions require minimal attention and regulations. However, this does not dispute that marijuana can be grown outdoors, but the yields cannot be compared to those of indoors.

Equally, hemp can also be grown indoors, but the size and yields cannot match those grown outdoors. It is important to remember that yields do not solely rely on where each is grown. 

Growth mediums used also contribute to the amount of yields achieved. Natural soil is perfect for outdoor, but for indoors there are a variety, depending on availability.


Marijuana and hemp are used for different purposes because of their chemical composition. 

Marijuana is commonly used for recreational functions because of more THC content than hemp. THC easily binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to offer euphoric and mind blowing effects. Marijuana can still be used for therapeutic applications because it still has cannabidiol (CBD).

Because of its different CBD content, hemp is used to produce a variety of products including;

  • Hemp flour, hemp seed products, cooking oil and more.
  • Medicinal products; CBD infused products and CBD oil tinctures.
  • Industrial products; building materials, plastic, clothing and paper


Because the two differ in THC concentration, they are regulated differently. Originally both hemp and marijuana were illegal because not much had been discovered concerning the two and they were assumed to be one.

Hemp was used for most medicinal purposes, but since the difference was still not clear, hemp was outlawed alongside marijuana. It was a general law banning cannabis as a whole.

THC, which is responsible for individuals getting high, was the main reason for the ban. After concrete analysis of the two, hemp was found to contain less than 0.03% of THC which cannot make one high.


Hemp CBD Vs Marijuana CBD

CBD is extracted from both hemp and marijuana using solvent and non solvent methods. The CBD extracted is however more in hemp than in marijuana.

Hemp is legal, this is the second reason users prefer CBD from hemp. In some states where marijuana is legal, its CBD  is naturally preferred. This is, however, not scientifically correct. CBD from either marijuana or hemp is the same as long as the extraction method is correct and THC levels are below 0.03%.

Marijuana and hemp like any other plant require trimming. Below is a simple explanation on how their trimming compares.


Hemp Vs Marijuana Trimming

Bud trimming is very important for most. Hemp and marijuana are not exceptions. Cannabis trimming in general is important depending on the target outcome. Trimming improves the potency of both marijuana and hemp.

Marijuna trimming can either be wet or dry, and both have advantages and disadvantages. Any of the methods is not directly related to either marijuana or hemp. Any can be used for both. 

Automatic dry trimming machines are popular in the market, making it possible to dry trim quickly.

Trimming is a similarity for both hemp and marijuna, but it largely depends on what someone is targeting. The bottom line is potency. The extraction method to be used will also determine how effective the extract will be.

The method used may introduce impurities on CBD extract. Research indicates that there is more to be considered other than the source.


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