Vie. Oct 30th, 2020

When shopping for CBD oil products, it is important to know the difference between hemp and marijuana, since these terms will determine things like THC levels, legality, and more. 

As you dig in to learn more about cannabis, CBD oil, the types of CBD products available, and more, one of the common questions that come up time and again is “what is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

Beyond cannabis slang, legal interpretation, and use of the plants, the fact of the matter is that few genetic differences exist between hemp and marijuana plants. But in practical terms, the differences are quite significant.

Here, we will take a look at the similarities and differences between marijuana and hemp, including their uses, their legal status, and more. 

hemp and cannabisHemp vs Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are actually both members of the same plant species – Cannabis sativa L. Plants included in Cannabis sativa L. can contain different spectrums of cannabinoid concentrations, including wide-ranging compositions of THC and CBD, the most common of the cannabinoids. Still, there are many practical differences between hemp and marijuana, and clear lines drawn between the two types of cannabis.

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 chemicals that make you feel intoxicated. However, differences go much deeper. 

Growing hemp and marijuana

Cannabis has both male and female plants. When growing marijuana, male plants are removed and only female plants are cultivated. This is because when cannabis flowers are fertilized, it lowers the concentration of THC – the main chemical in marijuana that creates intoxicating effects – that the cannabis flowers produce.

Commercial marijuana is usually grown indoors so that conditions can be monitored very closely in order to optimize growth. Although you can find THC throughout the plant, it is the flowers or “buds” that are harvested for recreational marijuana. 

Marijuana is grown to encourage it to grow lots of THC laden flowers. That’s because THC is concentrated mostly in the trichomes — little resin filled glands — on the flowers of the plant. Flowers of the female marijuana plant that have not been fertilized by a male plant’s pollen will produce more of the resin that contains THC. 

Hemp, on the other hand, is cultivated as close as you can get to how cannabis grows naturally. Hemp is grown all over the world for food, oil, and fiber. The whole plant can be used, not just the flowers. 

With hemp, male and female plants are sown very closely together, allowing for easy wind pollination and to more effectively crowd out weeds. This results in very tall, hardy plants with less branching that look very different from the often shorter, bushier marijuana plants.


Another key difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp naturally has almost no THC, while most marijuana plants produce just trace levels of CBD. 

Due to selective breeding over decades, concentrations of THC in marijuana can now range from 10% to as much as 30%.

In order for hemp to be considered hemp, its flowers must contain just 0.3% THC — which is 33 times less than the least potent marijuana. Therefore, it’s impossible to get high from consuming hemp. 

Legal Status of Hemp and Marijuana

Marijuana and hemp have very different legal status in the U.S. and in countries around the world, so it’s important to know the difference between the two. 

Since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution has been legal in the U.S. That means that it is legal to purchase and use CBD products made from hemp. 

Marijuana, on the other hand, is still federally illegal in the U.S. However, it is legal to use marijuana in certain parts of the country thanks to state level legal medical or recreational marijuana laws. 

CBD from Marijuana vs CBD from Hemp

Although both hemp and marijuana produce CBD, there are some important factors to take into account when choosing a CBD source. 

Hemp naturally has more CBD than THC, making it an ideal source of CBD, especially those who want to avoid the intoxicating effects of THC. It is the primary reason why hemp oil is the preferred source of natural CBD for thousands of people, but there are other reasons as well.

When CBD is extracted from hemp, it is legal to purchase and use in the U.S. That means that you can feel confident buying CBD products derived from hemp, like those available in the Medical Marijuana, Inc. store. 

Unlike CBD products made with hemp, those made with marijuana are likely to contain high levels of THC unless they have been adulterated in some way (ie. thinned down). If they contain too high a level of THC, they will be federally illegal and will only be legal on a state level in certain states. 

When shopping for CBD products, check to see if they are made with hemp to help ensure you are only using CBD products that are federally legal to use. 

CBD Products from Hemp

CBD is a popular wellness product being used by people around the country to help bring balance to their hectic modern lives. As the first company to create and distribute CBD products nationwide, Medical Marijuana, Inc. knows what it takes to make top quality CBD.

All our products are held to our strict quality standards, including our Triple Lab Tested™ guarantee that our products have been tested to be safe and reliable. 

There are a number of ways to use CBD:




Need help finding the right product for you? Try our CBD Hemp Oil Product Recommendation Tool.

Learn More About CBD

You can learn more about topics like “what is CBD?”, “cannabinoids and their effects”, “how to use CBD”, and more on our CBD oil education page. 

Ready to get started with CBD products? Shop the Medical Marijuana, Inc. store now. 

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