Cannabis is a family of plants with two primary classifications — Indica and Sativa. While marijuana can be considered a member of either the Indica or Sativa families, Hemp is a member of the Cannabis Sativa family.
Hemp vs Marijuana (Anatomy)
To the untrained eye, hemp and marijuana can appear similar, but if you know what to look for, each plant has very clear distinctions.
Marijuana features broad leaves, dense buds and has a short, bushy appearance. In stark contrast, Hemp features skinny leaves that are concentrated towards the top of the plant and grows taller and skinnier than Marijuana, with few branches beneath its upper portion.
When compared side by side, the two plants can each clearly be identified. As we dive deeper into the anatomy of the two plants, each have crucial differences in their chemical composition.
Hemp vs Marijuana (Composition)
Cannabis contains a variety of different compounds called Cannabinoids, two of rich, and the most dominant are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CCannabidiol (CBD).
Both Cannabinoids have shown to provide profound benefits to the human body; however, THC induces psychoactive effects (gets the user “high”), while CBD does not contain any psychoactive properties.
When comparing Hemp vs Marijuana, this is a huge distinction; while Hemp contains a very low concentration of THC (0.3% or less), Marijuana is abundant in THC with concentrations between 15% to 40%.
Because of this, Hemp is grown primarily for industrial purposes, while Marijuana is grown for recreational and medicinal purposes.
Hemp vs Marijuana (Usages)
Because Marijuana is abundant in THC, it is naturally grown for its psychoactive properties, whether it be for recreational or medicinal use. Marijuana can be smoked, inhaled, ingested or injected directly into the body. THC is also commonly extracted from the plant and used in a variety of methods including vaporizers, capsules, edibles and more.
Hemp, on the other hand, is primarily used for industrial purposes as it is capable of producing hundreds of crucial resources such as paper, clothing, building materials, biofuel, food products, oils and more. With the fast-growing popularity of CBD across the globe, hemp is also used to produce a wide variety of THC-free CBD products.
Hemp vs Marijuana (Legality)
The presence of THC in Hemp vs Marijuana not only plays a huge role in how each plant is used, it is the defining factor in the legality of each plant.
Each state/country will have varying laws based on the usage, sales, transportation and cultivation of Hemp, which will widely depend on the THC-content of the Hemp plant.
In most of the United States, the allowed THC-content for hemp to be classified as legal is 0.3%, while in much of the rest of the world, it is 0.2%.
Because Hemp naturally contains very little THC, it is legal in most parts the world, and where it is not, the legal consequences are minor.
Marijuana is a different story.
Because of its high THC-content, in most parts of the world, including the US, Marijuana is illegal. Seeing the massive economical and medicinal benefits that Marijuana can provide, some countries and states in the US have legalized Marijuana. As the political landscape changes, hopefully more will follow, but as of now, Marijuana is generally illegal.