The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana

Though hemp has been cultivated for centuries, both the term and the plant itself have recently grown significantly in popularity with the rise of the CBD industry. However, people are often confused about the difference between hemp and marijuana, and the confusion is understandable. These two plants are closely related and extremely similar in many ways, but they actually are quite distinct varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa L. Below, we break down the need-to-know differences between hemp and marijuana to provide clarification and shed some light on popular misconceptions. 

What is Cannabis sativa L?

Cannabis sativa L, or cannabis, is a species of leafy, herbaceous plants that originated from Central Asia. Over time, cannabis has been used in many ways for a myriad of different purposes, including medicine, food, textile fiber, recreation, and more. There are several types of cannabis plants, such as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. 

Cannabis sativa is what most people mean when they refer to the term cannabis, and is the tallest type, reaching 2-4 meters in height. Indica, indiginous to Afghanistan and areas of India, is much shorter and bushier than sativa. Ruderalis, native to the areas of China, Russia, and Poland in the northern hemisphere, is the rarest type of cannabis, and has been used for fibers or nutrition in the past. 

These three types of cannabis have been continuously bred together over the years, and accordingly, are currently difficult to distinguish. 

What is hemp? 

Hemp is a member of Cannabis sativa species of plants. Industrial hemp has been used for fibers, food, and medicine, and the plant has an extensive history in many cultures. Lately, hemp is prominently used for extracting cannabidiol (CBD) to make CBD oil products such as tinctures or ingestibles. Hemp is rich in many elements, including CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds, but is low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or the psychoactive component that is so prevalent in marijuana. THC is known for causing the “high” that is connected with marijuana use, but hemp contains only small amounts of it. Currently, federal law officially defines hemp as any plant of the Cannabis sativa variety with less than 0.3% dry-weight THC. 

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is any strain of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica variety that contains more than 0.3% THC. Some strains of marijuana are extremely potent, containing up to 30% THC. Marijuana has been used as a recreational drug for centuries, but it has also been used medicinally for quite some time. Marijuana is available in a variety of forms that each exhibit differing effects, as varieties can be cross-bred to produce plants with varying concentrations of THC, CBD, and terpenes. 

What are the differences in legalities?

Currently, 34 states and Washington D.C. have legalized the medical use of marijuana with some restrictions, and 11 states have legalized marijuana for standard adult usage. While different states have taken the initiative to legalize marijuana, federally, it remains a Schedule I illegal substance under the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As a Schedule I substance, marijuana and THC are categorized as hallucinogens amongst mescaline, psilocybin MDMA, and LSD. 

Hemp, on the other hand, was made federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, and defined as:

“…the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannbinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” 

This clarified the legality of hemp derivatives, such as CBD. Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) put forth an Interim Final Rule to create a domestic hemp production program, which outlines the rules and regulations for state-to-state hemp production. Different states still have vastly distinct regulations regarding CBD and its production, labeling, and advertising, so it’s important to stay up to date. 

Grow with Redeem is a CBD white label company that is dedicated to the development of safe and effective hemp-derived CBD products. We bring truth and transparency into the CBD world to enable our partners to produce a consistent and reliable formula and contribute to a sustainable CBD business model. Our team of CBD manufacturers, suppliers, processors, and designers has the facilities, knowledge, and expertise to drive your brand and attain your vision. Learn more about the white label CBD process with Grow with Redeem and contact our team today. 


marj@redeemrx.comThe Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana

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