Cannabis VS Marijuana VS Hemp

Cannabis VS Marijuana VS Hemp: What’s The Difference

Are cannabis and marijuana the same thing? Is hemp an entirely different plant? Do these herbs have any mutual connection? Before you decide on a suitable product, it helps get the facts straight. It’ll confirm you picked the item that meets legal regulations and delivers expected benefits. Keep reading to compare hemp vs cannabis vs marijuana and learn their differences!

What Is Cannabis?

The common confusion is that cannabis is a single plant. Instead, we use this term to describe an entire genus of herbs. The Latin name is Cannabaceae, and this family gathers approximately 170 species. However, we divide them into three main species:

  • Cannabis Indica
  • Cannabis Sativa
  • Cannabis Ruderalis

Scientists haven’t found fossil evidence that would describe the cannabis origin. That’s why we aren’t sure how it developed from other organisms. It’s interesting that Humulus has the closest structure to cannabis. That genus has a rich history that dates back up to 27 million years ago. It’s an assumption, but it indicates that cannabis isn’t much younger than Humulus.

While it’s interesting to read scientific facts, the takeaway is that cannabis refers to an entire genus of plants. Marijuana and hemp both belong to this genus, making them types of cannabis. That means you can’t go wrong when saying cannabis for any plant from this family.

hemp vs marijuana

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is Cannabis sativa L. It indicates the plant belongs to this genus, but it’s different from marijuana. Even if marijuana and hemp come from the same species, they still have important structural differences.

The crucial distinction is that hemp has a low THC level. THC is one of over 100 cannabinoids, but it’s important since it has intoxicating effects. Hemp contains a low THC quantity, which means it’s almost impossible it will get you intoxicated. However, it always helps acquire hemp products with a license and confirmed lab results. That way, you’ll ensure there’s no more THC than you want present in your product.

Hemp also contains a high level of cannabidiol or CBD. It’s a vital cannabinoid that has a high therapeutic potential. Its effects go from pain relief to boosting positive mood and focus.

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is an intoxicating type of cannabis. Now, the actual effect depends on the individual and the strain. Some marijuana strains have up to 1% of THC, but others deliver more than 35% of this compound. The CBD to THC ratio is vital when choosing the desired strain. If you are in the USA, the hemp vs marijuana battle also comes with a legal difference. Federal law indicates that cannabis shouldn’t have more than 0.3% of THC. The law classifies that as hemp, making it safe to use. Plants above that restriction are marijuana, which is legal in some states and illegal in others.

How Are They Related?

Hemp and marijuana are types of cannabis. That means all these three terms are connected. All plant types contain cannabinoids, but the exact quantity varies. Here’s a brief check of the three main cannabis types to understand the connection better:

  • Sativa. You’ll find most cannabis strains under these species. Marijuana and hemp both can belong to Cannabis Sativa. The experts believe this plant originates from Southeast Asia. It has a long flowering time, but it’s the largest of all species.
  • Indica. If you come across a Cannabis Indica strain, it confirms it’s a marijuana plant. Hemp doesn’t have representatives in this category. Cannabis Indica handles cold climates better, and it doesn’t take long to flower. It’s more suitable for growing indoors than Sativa plants.
  • Ruderalis. It’s nowhere near as popular because it delivers low yields. The advantage is that it flowers even when the day is short, but not many growers go with this option.

cannabis vs hemp

What Are the Main Differences?

The article already covered that cannabis gathers all marijuana and hemp plants under the same genus. But when deciding between hemp vs marijuana products, it’s important to consider vital differences. Here’s a brief overview of how we distinguish these plants.


All cannabis plants have cannabinoids in leaves, flowers, and stalks. That’s why most users focus on these herb parts. Some consume cannabis seeds, but they contain a low cannabinoid amount. That limits their effectiveness, so it’s better to choose the flower.

Manufacturers use extraction to get CBD and other cannabinoids. They add them to edibles and tinctures to make hemp and marijuana products. Those looking for the “high feeling” go with cannabis strains with increased THC levels. Those are usually marijuana types, and they can be intoxicating.

Hemp is a versatile plant with numerous uses. You’ll often find eco-friendly and sustainable clothing made from this plant. Hemp textiles and paper are also popular. Food manufacturers use hemp to make protein powder, oil, milk, etc. This plant is sustainable since it takes less to grow than trees used to make textiles and paper.


The legality varies from state and country. In the USA, all cannabis products with up to 0.3% of THC are legal on a federal level. But some states adjusted the law and forbade all medical and recreational marijuana. Before you buy an item, make sure to check the regulations in your location. If you are planning a trip, consult the law in the destination state.

Chemical Composition

Hemp contains much more CBD than marijuana, but it has a lower quantity of THC. These are two major cannabinoids, but you’ll find many others in plants. Hemp might contain CBG, CBC, and others, but there are plants that contain mostly CBD. You can find the chemical structure on a lab result for the desired strain. It should be an official confirmation of the plant’s composition.

Hemp CBD VS Marijuana CBD

CBD oil and other cannabidiol products often come from the hemp plant. The reason is simple – marijuana contains far less CBD per unit.

But even if you choose marijuana CBD, there’ll be no differences in the benefits it can deliver. Cannabidiol has the same effects regardless of the source, and it’s the only quantity that matters. It’s worth noting that CBD combined with THC can have different effects compared to cannabidiol itself.

Ian Baker handles content marketing at Happy Leaf Portland. There are 5 years that he is deeply involved in the cannabis field. He had 3 years of experience as a Budtender and thanks to his desire to achieve more, he has a career move. Currently, he works as a content manager.