hemp vs marijuana, what is hemp, what is marijuana

Hemp vs. Marijuana: What’s a Better Basis for Cannabidiol Oil?

The recent out of the blue breakthrough of hemp-derived CBD industry has also brought a lot of confusion on the differences and similarities between marijuana and hemp plants. Hemp vs marijuana differences are quite remarkable. Both legally and practically.


What is Cannabis?

But first, let us cover basic biology and history on the subject. Both hemp and marijuana plants belong to the annual flowering plants of the Cannabis genus, which includes Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis species. And that’s where the scientific taxonomy ends. That means neither hemp nor marijuana is a separate species of cannabis. Instead, they are colloquial names relatable to the use of the plant. Hemp refers to cannabis, which has a minimal amount of THC and is grown for industrial purposes.

In contrast, marijuana refers to cannabis abundant in THC, mainly famous for its psychoactive effect. After the 2018 Farm Bill, this difference was made official. Cannabis that has less than 0.3% of THC (by dry weight) is considered hemp, while everything else is considered marijuana. Now when we can dive into the Hemp vs. Marijuana topic in more detail.


What is Hemp?

So, in simple terms, what is hemp? Taking all of the above into account, we can say that hemp is a non-intoxicating Cannabis plant. It is widely popular for its derivatives, such as textiles, ropes, paper, seeds, oil, fuel, and many others. Hemp has been around humanity for more than 10.000 years. It is one of the widely used stocks throughout history. Henry Ford even envisioned a car produced and fueled by hemp. However, in 1937 with The Marijuana Tax Act, every plant associated with marijuana was proclaimed illegal, consequently shutting down all of the hemp associated industry.  It took 91 years and The 2018 Farm Bill to declare this remarkably useful plant legal again.


What is Marijuana?

Have doubts about what is marijuana? Marijuana is a cannabis plant that is cultivated primarily for its recreational use. The plant has resinous flowers abundant in cannabinoids, mainly THC. It can hold up to 30% of THC, making it highly psychoactive and possibly intoxicating. It is why marijuana has been ranked Schedule I substance by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which makes it federally illegal in the US.


Hemp vs Marijuana Main Differences

The leading hemp vs marijuana differences can be summarized in these three categories:

  1. Composition and Cultivating
  2. Use
  3. Legal status


Composition and Cultivating

Both the hemp plant and marijuana plant can contain various amounts of CBD, other minor cannabinoids and terpenes. But the main difference is the amount of THC in the plant. In the US, the line is drawn at 0.3% percent. Marijuana can hold up to 30% of THC, while hemp can contain only up to 0.3% of THC.

Another critical difference in the hemp vs marijuana story is how hemp and marijuana are grown. To produce THC-abundant yielding plants, growers need to nurture the plant at every developing stage carefully. They need to provide optimal temperature, sunlight, and nutrients. They also need to preserve female plants only, since only they produce THC rich flowers. On the other hand, if you don’t need high THC content, you plant the seed and leave it to grow. Hemp needs only the primary conditions to grow, and considering that the whole plant can be used, from seed to leaves, there is no need to favor one part of the plant over the other.



Marijuana is mainly used recreationally due to the effect of THC. Binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, THC produces euphoric and other psychotropic effects.

Hemp, on the other hand, is a powerful natural resource. Fibers derived from the hemp constitute some of the most durable ropes and nets. Hemp plant trunks find use in construction, while hemp seeds and leaves are an essential raw material in the food industry. People use it for the production of hemp seed oil, flour, and many other hemp-based products.

Lately, the focus has been on CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid of cannabis, which also affects the endocannabinoid system, albeit in a different manner. Unless you’ve been on an extended vacation for the past two years, you have witnessed the exponential rise of the popularity of CBD.


Legal Status

Owing to The 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and hemp-derived products (including hemp-derived CBD) became legal by The United States. This Bill covers federal and state laws, meaning that companies can legally cultivate, produce, and sell hemp-derived products in all of the United States.

Marijuana, in contrast, remains an illicit substance on a federal level. It means that the manufacturing, production, and distribution of marijuana-based products is illegal. Even though some states have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use, if you are transporting it between states, even if both of those states have legalized marijuana, you are officially making a federal offense.


Hemp Vs Marijuana as a basis for CBD oil?

Now we come down to the main point. What is the difference between hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD oil?

The first thing to understand is that no matter what is a basis for CBD oil, there is no molecular difference between CBD coming from the hemp and marijuana.

The second thing is that besides CBD itself and its concentration, there are other essential cannabis substances, such as terpenes, minor cannabinoids, and the level of THC in the oil. As follows, if you have hemp-based full-spectrum CBD oil, the amount of THC will be bellow 0.3%. If, on the other hand, you take full-spectrum CBD oil derived from the marijuana plant, it will most likely have more than 0.3% of THC. Which one will you choose depends on the effects you wish to experience. If you desire your CBD oil to be THC-rich, then you will probably choose marijuana-derived CBD oil. If you want your CBD with a minimal amount of THC, you will choose hemp as your base.

Legally, however, the situation is more complicated. If you find yourself in a state that legalized marijuana, you can use both hemp and marijuana-based CBD oil.

However, do have in mind that federal laws prohibit the use and distribution of any marijuana-derived product, no matter the THC concentration. It means that even a CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC, is illegal if it comes from the marijuana plant.



We hope this helped you in understanding the primary differences between hemp and marijuana. They are technically the same plant. But in practice, we are talking about two different herbs in both their utilization and their legal status. Also, CBD is CBD, no matter where it stems from. However, a full-spectrum CBD oil derived from marijuana results in a higher concentration of THC in the tincture. It may result in a completely different experience. Also, bear in mind the legal implications of marijuana-derived CBD oil. Either way – before enjoying your oil, do your research on the subject and make sure that CBD is safe for you.

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