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What's the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

by Faith Fidura June 28, 2019

One frequently asked question in this industry is, what is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana? To break this down, we have divided the topic into 3 main sections: the definitions of each, the CBD derived from each, and the key differences between the two regarding scientific composition, usage, and legality.

What is Hemp?

Hemp is used to classify Cannabis that contains 0.3% or less of THC on dry weight and will not cause a psychotropic or euphoric effect on the person consuming hemp. As described in the Agricultural Act of 2018, Hemp is generally used to describe derived products that contains non-intoxicating Cannabis.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is used to define different varieties of Cannabis that contain more than 0.3% of THC on dry weight, and can cause a psychotropic or euphoric effect on the person consuming marijuana.

What’s the difference between CBD derived from marijuana vs. CBD derived from hemp?

The compound itself is the same, however, regulations concerning each are extremely different.

The 2018 Farm Bill makes CBD derived from hemp federally legal to produce and sell, if that hemp is produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill, associated federal regulations, associated state regulations, and by a licensed grower. The CBD must contain less than 0.3% THC.

If CBD is produced in any other way or exceeds 0.3% THC, it is still considered a Schedule 1 substance. Therefore, and considering that marijuana is still federally illegal, CBD derived from marijuana is federally illegal.  

Key Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

hempvsmarijuanaScientific Composition  
One of the main differences between Hemp and Marijuana is their scientific composition and the arrangement in molecules. While both hemp and marijuana can both produce high amounts of CBD, which is the non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, hemp can contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight while marijuana contain up to 30% THC.

Hemp and marijuana also differ in what they are typically used for. Since marijuana has higher levels of THC which produces mind-altering and euphoric effects, it is commonly consumed for therapeutic benefits as well as recreational purposes.

In comparison, hemp is commonly used for industrial purposes such as producing paper, clothing, building materials, and plastic. It can also be used in cooking oil, to produce hemp flour, milk, and other hemp-seed based products. Lastly, hemp is gaining popularity for the medicinal products that can be produced from it such as CBD oil tinctures and infused topicals. 

Due to the difference between their levels of THC, hemp and marijuana are regulated very differently under the law. Hemp was previously regulated as an illegal substance under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 until the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 federally legalized hemp and hemp-derived products that contain no more than 0.3% THC.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is still listed as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance and is federally illegal under the Controlled Substance Act. However, individual states within the U.S. have their own laws governing the legal status of marijuana. Depending on the state you live in, there may be laws that allow marijuana for recreational and/or medical purposes.