hemp vs marijuana: how to distinguish

Although hemp and marijuana are both varieties of cannabis, they are very different plants. What distinguishes hemp from marijuana is not something that you can see. It’s their chemical makeup. The biggest difference is in their levels of THC, the cannabinoid that’s responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana. Hemp has a significantly lower level of THC than marijuana and by federal law, the THC level of hemp must be under 0.3%. If it is over that percentage, then it’s classified it as marijuana. 

what is hemp?

Hemp describes a variety of Cannabis that must contain only 0.3% THC or less on a dry weight basis. That's why it doesn't produce any psychoactive effects or the feeling of being “high”. This is what we use for our CBD extracts!

A few points about hemp:

  • Nonpsychoactive
  • Considered an agricultural product
  • 0.3 % THC or less
  • Federally legal in all 50 states 
  • Typically bred to contain high CBD content
  • Can be used as fuel
  • Strongest natural fiber in the world 
  • Used to make textiles, paper, building material, etc.
  • Primarily known for therapeutic use

what is marijuana?

Marijuana is used to describe Cannabis that contains 0.3% THC or more on a dry weight basis and can produce psychoactive effects.

A few points about marijuana:

  • Psychoactive
  • Legal in 11 states (as of July 2019)
  • Low CBD content
  • 0.3% THC or higher
  • Primarily known for recreational use

the most important aspects to take away from this.

The biggest differentiators to remember is the difference between hemp and marijuana’s chemical composition, legality, and the way that they are being used in the marketplace.

Chemical composition

What this refers to is what chemical make-up the plant consists of. Marijuana is typically bred for its psychoactive properties. Therefore, it will contain large amounts of the THC molecule. Hemp is primarily grown for either industrial use or therapeutic use. When grown for therapeutic purposes, like for CBD products, it is bred to contain large amounts of CBD. When grown for textiles, paper, or body products, the CBD content is much smaller and isn’t a very important factor regarding the manufacturing process.

Legality

Hemp is legal in 50 states. Marijuana is only legal in 11 states.

A common misconception regarding the 2018 farm bill is the legality of marijuana-derived CBD. It is thought that all CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC are legal. However, the 2018 farm bill explicitly applies to “hemp and hemp-derived products”. It does not include marijuana-derived CBD. This means that even if a CBD product contains 0.0% THC but is derived from a marijuana plant, it is not legalized under the 2018 farm bill. 

The biggest factor here to remember is the 0.3% THC rule.