Hemp vs Weed: The Differences Explained

hemp vs. weed

Hemp vs Weed: The Differences Explained? Even though both hemp and marijuana (weed) come from cannabis, there are many essential differences between the two. Many people use hemp and marijuana interchangeably to discuss the same type of cannabis product, but this is inaccurate. Even though they are both types of cannabis, their legal status, uses, and potential benefits are very different.

Thus, we have put together a simple but thorough introduction to hemp and marijuana to make things easier to understand. Below, we will look at what hemp and weed are as well as their fundamental differences.

What Are Hemp Plants?

Hemp, a type of Cannabis Sativa plant, is dioecious, meaning it can be sexually separated into male and female. Since the beginning of human history, more than 10,000 years ago, people have used these plants for many things. The hemp plants’ stems can be a source of fibre, and the hemp seeds can provide protein. The leaves can give oils, and the flowers that can be smoked also have oil content.

Hemp fibres can be used to make clothes, rope, paper, and even building materials, showing the plant’s value as a raw material. The whole hemp plant, from the stalk to the seeds, can be used to make fuel and animal feed.

Do Hemp Plants Also Have THC, Like Marijuana Plants?

Hemp has many cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid that makes you feel high. However, hemp plants do not make enough THC to get you high.

On the other hand, high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), a useful cannabinoid that does not get you high, can be made in large quantities from hemp. In fact, hemp-derived CBD is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent cannabinoids on the market. Find out why by checking out the benefits of Boost SoftGel Caps – CBD.

In many countries, whether a plant is considered hemp or marijuana is based on how much THC it makes. For instance, in the United States, industrial hemp is Cannabis sativa L. that does not have more than 0.3% THC. The European Union has set a limit of 0.2%. But the United Kingdom has set a limit of 0% unless the growers have a license that lets them grow industrial hemp with less than 0.2% THC.

What Are the Uses of Hemp Plants?

CBD oil, a popular product made from the hemp plant, is extracted from the flowers and leaves of cannabis. Because CBD-focused cultivation is becoming increasingly popular, more people are trying to improve their health by using CBD oil made from hemp plants. Other uses of hemp plants are as follow:

  • Uses of hemp fibres

Hemp fibres are mainly used to make textiles, paper, building materials, and a wide range of other industrial goods. Short woody fibres, sometimes called hurds or shives, are usually one of the raw materials found in the stalk. They are used to make compost, absorbents, ceiling panels, and many other products for the industrial sector.

  • Uses of hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are a good source of vitamins, fibre, protein, and minerals. They have the right amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which makes them a healthy food choice. In 2008, researchers found that the proteins in hemp are easier to digest than the soy protein isolates that are usually used in food products. Both the seeds and the oil that is made from them can be used to make food. You can also grind up the seeds to make flour or mix them with water to make hemp seed milk.

  • Uses of hemp stalks

Decorticating hemp is a process that is used to separate the long fibres from the rest of the plant. This can be done through “field retting,” in which the plants are cut down and left out in the field for up to six weeks. At this point, any bacteria that are on the plant’s surface will start to break down the stalk’s outer layer. After that, the stalks that have been retted are dried out.

After the stalks are picked, they are dried quickly and then put in water for a few days. The water coats the outside of the stalks, making them smoother and softer. Also, the water makes it easy for more bacteria to grow, which speeds up the process. Chemical retting is the last step. Acids, bases, and special enzymes break down the chemicals that hold the strong bast threads together.

What Is a Marijuana Plant or Weed?

People often use the word “marijuana” to refer to cannabis plants with 0.3% or more of the psychoactive compound THC. Because these strains have a lot of THC, people who use them can experience an extremely intense “high.” Marijuana has a lot of different names, like weed, bud, green, pot, grass, and so on.

Some of the popular marijuana strains include Super Silver Haze (AAAA+) and Purple Space Cookies (AAAA), with THC levels ranging from 17% to 25%.

How Are Hemp and Marijuana Different?

It is essential to know the difference between hemp and CBD and the many ways each can be used. As was already said, hemp is helpful for a lot more than just being a subspecies of the cannabis plant. It is a plant that can be used in many industrial ways, such as making textiles, clothes, rope, etc.

CBD is just one component of the hemp plant that is often used for its physiological and therapeutic benefits, such as reducing anxiety, stress, inflammation, and pain. Here are more ways in which hemp and marijuana are different:

Cannabinoid composition

Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are found in Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Ruderalis, and other cannabis plants. One of the most important differences between hemp and marijuana is their chemical composition, or how much CBD and THC they contain.

Hemp usually has between 10 and 20% CBD and less than 0.3% THC. It also has a number of other cannabinoids, such as cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN). Since many of these plants have a lot of CBD, hemp is often the plant of choice for making products with CBD. Hemp plants also can’t have more than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

On the other hand, THC levels in marijuana are between 5% and 20%, but some can be as high as 35%. They usually don’t have much CBD, which is the main reason why they are so strong. In fact, less than 1% of CBD is found in the majority of strains. However, some strains have been bred so that they have more CBD.


Hemp and weed or marijuana are cannabis Sativa plants, which is why their appearances look similar. Both of these plants are very tall, which makes them stand out among other cannabis plants. Still, there are essential differences between the two.

As the weed grows, you can see that it produces more thick resin, which looks like tiny white crystals on the flower buds. This resin is where all the plant compounds are stored, such as CBD, THC, etc.

On the other hand, hemp does not have as much resin as weed. Most of the parts of plants that are good for you can be found in their leaves. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) are both found in high concentrations in the leaves of the hemp plant.


Even though marijuana and hemp come from the same plant species, they grow very differently. Growers of marijuana have to keep an eye on the temperature and humidity levels of the environment. They also need to prune the plants at each stage of growth and ensure that nutrients are absorbed in a controlled way.

Hemp is much easier to grow than most other crops. Hemp plants can survive in almost any environment, and they can even grow close to each other. This plant does not need much care and is easy to grow from seed.

  • How is hemp cultivation different from marijuana cultivation?
cannabis seeds and hemp oil

Other key differences between hemp and marijuana are distinguished in how they are grown and harvested. Male hemp plants bloom much faster than female ones but don’t make nearly as much fibre. Thus, female and male hemp can grow together, unlike in marijuana fields, where growers get rid of male plants to ensure the maximum production of seedless flowering plants.

Moreover, to keep mould and bacteria from growing on marijuana plants, there needs to be enough space between each plant. Most marijuana plants are spaced out so that every 4 square feet, there is one plant. On the other hand, hemp can be grown closer together. Hemp plants that are grown for their oil are usually planted so that there are about 40 to 60 plants per square foot. Those grown for their fibre are planted even closer together, with about 120 plants per 4 square feet.

Marijuana is often grown indoors or in greenhouses. Hemp plants, on the other hand, are almost always grown in open fields or other places outdoors. But since hemp is vulnerable to pests, diseases, and insects, many growers use a method called “crop rotation.” This method is done by planting different crops in the same spot at different times. This keeps organisms from building up and lets nutrients return to the soil.


Marijuana is only helpful in a small number of cases. You can consume it in the form of edibles, smoke its flowers, or use it as medicine. But these things can be hard to do because of the laws.

On the other hand, hemp can be used in many ways. Its fibres are full of cellulose, which makes it an excellent material for making textiles like rope, cloth, and clothing. Hemp clothing is very comfortable and lasts long, making it an excellent alternative to cotton. Hemp can also be used to make paper. In fact, the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

Some innovative companies are also using hemp to make bio-concrete and bio-plastics. For instance, one of the first cars made by Ford was made from plastic made from hemp.

Hemp seeds are also valuable in the food industry, where they are used for the vitamins and minerals they have. These seeds, sometimes called “hemp hearts,” are full of essential nutrients, such as omega-6 fatty and omega-3 acids, and a full profile of amino acids. CBD, which is quickly becoming an essential part of the health and wellness industry, can also be extracted from the plant’s flowers and leaves.

Hemp vs Weed: Cultivation Practices

When it comes to cannabis cultivation, not all plants are grown equally. Indeed, the practices and conditions required to grow hemp significantly differ from those of marijuana, or what we commonly refer to as weed. Understanding these differences is crucial for cultivators and consumers, as it directly influences the plant’s properties and potential uses.

Growth Environment

Firstly, let’s consider the growth environment. Marijuana plants are often grown in controlled indoor settings, mainly when cultivated for cannabinoid content. These environments allow growers to carefully regulate light, temperature, and humidity, crucial for the plant’s optimal growth and potency.

Hemp, on the other hand, is often cultivated in the open air on commercial farms. It is an adaptable plant that does well in many environments so that it can be grown commercially.

Plant Spacing

The spacing between plants is another distinguishing factor. In marijuana cultivation, plants are given ample space to allow for bushier growth, which results in a higher yield of buds or flowers – the parts of the plant with the highest concentration of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive compound.

Hemp plants, in contrast, are grown close together – often only a few inches apart. This close planting encourages the plants to grow tall and skinny, maximizing the yield of the stalk, commonly used for its fiber.

Crop Rotation and Sustainability

Hemp’s long shelf life and revitalizing effects on soil make it a popular crop rotation addition. With its extensive root system, this plant can prevent soil erosion by removing harmful chemicals and heavy metals.

On the other hand, growing marijuana successfully typically calls for more intense growth procedures, such as applying fertilizers and pesticides. Thus, it does not contribute to soil health in the same way that hemp does.


The two plants are also very different in how they are harvested. To protect the potency of the buds, marijuana is often hand-harvested. However, this is a very time-consuming and labor-intensive technique.

In contrast, unlike cereal crops like wheat or corn, hemp may be harvested mechanically. The harvesting process is massive because the entire plant can be used: seeds for oils and culinary goods, stalks for fibers, and flowers for CBD extraction.

Hemp vs Weed: Physical Characteristics

Cannabis is a very large plant genus with many different strains and types, all of which have unique qualities. Hemp and marijuana (often known as weed) are two of the most well-known species in this genus. These two plants share a common genus, yet their morphological traits could not be more different.

Height and Growth

The size and growth pattern of hemp and weed are two of the most significant distinguishing features. In many cases, hemp plants can reach a height of 15 feet. However, most of their foliage is found near the top of the plant, indicating that their growth is vertical. This layout is helpful for industrial hemp farming since it allows farmers to cultivate more plants in the allotted space.

Marijuana plants, on the other hand, are bushier and typically do not get any taller than 5 feet. As a result, more leaves and branches expand outward, giving them a broader appearance. This form of development is especially helpful in the confined spaces of indoor gardening.

Leaf Structure

Both hemp and marijuana have quite different leaf structures. Hemp’s taller, narrower leaves provide for a sleeker plant overall. In addition, the plant’s leaves are concentrated at the top, exposing the stalk below them.

Marijuana plants, on the other hand, have thicker, broader leaves. They are dispersed throughout the plant, giving it a healthy, verdant look. When compared to hemp leaves, the color of these plants’ foliage is often darker.


The presence of flowers is yet another defining feature. Male and female hemp flowers grow on different plants since the plant is dioecious. Due to hemp’s primary function as a source of fiber and oil, the flowers are small and not very apparent.

Dioecious marijuana plants have male and female flowers on different plants, while monoecious marijuana plants have both sexes on a single plant. Large, resinous flowers abundant in cannabinoids like THC and CBD are a significant draw for cultivating the female marijuana plant. The ‘buds’ of these flowers are collected, dried, and utilized for various reasons, including recreation and medicine.

Hemp vs Weed: THC vs. CBD Content

Cannabis, a versatile plant genus, is home to various strains, including hemp and marijuana, colloquially known as weed. Despite their shared heritage, these two plants have distinct chemical compositions, particularly regarding their cannabinoid content. Here, we’ll delve into the contrasting levels of THC and CBD in hemp and weed and discuss their uses and legality implications.

THC Content: Hemp vs Weed

THC is the primary psychoactive component in cannabis that’s responsible for the ‘high’ sensation. Thus, the THC content is one of the most significant differences between hemp and weed.

Weed is bred to have high levels of THC, often ranging from 5% to 30%, depending on the strain. Some particularly potent strains have even higher THC levels. The high THC content is what makes weed popular for recreational use.

On the other hand, hemp is defined by its low THC content. In Canada, for a cannabis plant to be legally classified as hemp, it must contain 0.3% THC or less. This minimal amount of THC means hemp doesn’t have the psychoactive effects associated with weed.

CBD Content: Hemp vs Weed

While weed has more THC, hemp shines in its CBD content. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid known for its potential therapeutic benefits, including pain relief, anti-inflammation, and anxiety reduction.

Hemp plants are rich in CBD, with many strains containing up to 20% CBD. This high CBD content and negligible THC levels make hemp the go-to source for many CBD products, from oils and tinctures to edibles and topicals.

In contrast, weed typically contains less CBD than hemp. However, some weed strains are bred to have higher CBD-to-THC ratios for those seeking CBD’s potential benefits without THC’s psychoactive effects.

Implications for Use and Legality

The contrasting THC and CBD contents in hemp and weed significantly influence their uses and legality. Weed, with its high THC content, is primarily used for recreational and medicinal purposes where legal. However, its legality varies significantly worldwide, with some regions embracing its use and others enforcing strict prohibitions.

On the other hand, hemp, with its high CBD and low THC content, is primarily used for industrial purposes and CBD production. In addition, its low THC content allows it to be legally grown in more regions than weed. Nonetheless, regulations still exist, requiring growers to maintain THC levels below the stipulated threshold.

Industrial and Commercial Uses of Hemp: A Versatile Powerhouse

From ancient civilizations to modern industries, hemp, a variant of the Cannabis sativa plant species, has played an instrumental role in shaping societies. With its strong fibers, nutritional seeds, and high CBD content, hemp offers a plethora of industrial and commercial applications. Let’s delve into the remarkable versatility of this plant and explore some of its primary uses.

Hemp in Textiles

Fabrics made from hemp date back more than 10,000 years. Its fibers are fantastic for various textiles because of their extreme durability and resistance to mildew and UV light. As a result, Hemp is now a sustainable alternative to synthetic fibers and cotton in producing apparel, footwear, and accessories.

Construction Materials

Hempcrete, made from the woody hemp hurd, is a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to conventional building materials. In addition, Hempcrete is an excellent insulator and can be used for non-load-bearing walls since it is resistant to mold, vermin, and fire.

Paper Production

Paper made from hemp could be another environmentally friendly option. Paper manufactured from hemp is inherently acid-free and may survive for generations without decomposing, yet it multiplies, yielding more per acre than trees.

Hemp Seed Foods and Supplements

Hemp seeds have a healthy 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids and are a great source of protein and fiber. Raw, mashed into a meal, sprouted, or dried into sprout powder has several potential uses. In addition, hemp milk and oils, which have culinary and nutritional applications, are derived from hemp seeds.

Skincare Products

Hemp seed oil is widely used as a cosmetic ingredient because of its high omega fatty acid concentration. It is a common ingredient in non-comedogenic moisturizers, including creams, lotions, and balms. In addition, it is thought to rehydrate dry skin and control oil production in oily skin.

CBD Products

Most CBD comes from hemp due to its high CBD and low THC content. CBD oils, edibles, capsules, and topicals can help with various medical conditions, from pain to anxiety to inflammation.

Recreational and Medical Uses of Weed: A Double-Edged Sword

Due to its euphoric effects, cannabis (or “weed”) is known for being used for recreational purposes, but it is also crucial to understand its medical potential. This paradox lies at the heart of the ongoing discussion regarding the plant’s function in human society. Below, we explore the recreational and medicinal uses of marijuana to provide context for both arguments.

Recreational Uses of Weed

Cannabis use for recreational purposes has a long history. Delta 9 THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, interacts with the endocannabinoid system to create its many effects. The magnitude and duration of these effects also depend on the individual’s tolerance level, the mode of intake, and the specific cannabis strain used.

THC’s euphoric “high” is frequently sought out for recreational use. Possibilities here include happiness, relaxation, friendliness, and enhanced perception. One of the recreational benefits of weed is that it can make you feel euphoric.

Also, getting high is only one aspect of recreational use. Cannabis is often used as a means of self-care or to heighten the experience of other activities, such as reading, watching movies, or doing yoga.

Medical Uses of Weed

Cannabis has a lot of potential as a medicine. Medical marijuana describes using any part of the cannabis plant for therapeutic purposes. The use of marijuana to alleviate pain is among its most well-known medical applications. Cannabis is a powerful pain reliever for a wide variety of painful ailments. This includes chronic and neuropathic pain and pain caused by diseases like MS and arthritis.

It has also been observed that cannabis positively reduces nausea and vomiting, particularly in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In addition to helping alleviate symptoms of severe epilepsy, it is also used to increase appetite in HIV/AIDS patients.

The possible benefits of cannabis for mental health are also widely acknowledged. Conditions like anxiety, PTSD, and sleeplessness frequently benefit from its use in treatment. Finally, marijuana has been proven effective in glaucoma, which increases pressure inside the eyeball, weakening the optic nerve and leading to vision loss. Cannabis can decrease the progression of the disease by reducing intraocular pressure.

Hemp and Marijuana Legalization in Canada

Under a strict legal framework, the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis have been legal in Canada since 2018. However, this is still subject to provincial restrictions, so make sure that you check the local laws in your province. Adults who are 18 years old and above can legally possess up to 30 grams of dried or non-dried cannabis from federally-licensed producers.

People can also grow up to four cannabis plants per residence as long as the licensed seed or seedlings will be only used for personal use. The use of medical cannabis is allowed for those who have authorization from their healthcare provider.


Even though both hemp and weed come from the same cannabis species, they have fundamental differences. Some of the most important differences between hemp and marijuana are their cannabinoid content, appearance, cultivation, and usage. Because of how similar they look, mixing them up is easy. Still, it is vital to know the difference since we live in a constantly changing world where the legal status of both plants is constantly changing.

The chemical makeup of each plant is what makes them different from each other. For a plant to be considered hemp, the amount of THC in its dry weight as a whole must be less than 0.3%. Anything with a higher amount of THC is considered to be marijuana.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I identify hemp vs. weed?

The main thing that sets hemp apart from marijuana is its THC content. The federal government has rules about how hemp must be grown so that it has less than 0.3% THC. If it has more than 0.3% THC, the federal government considers it marijuana, which is illegal in most countries.

The cannabis plant can be grown to make both marijuana and hemp. The key distinction between hemp and marijuana is that marijuana can have up to 30% THC, while hemp usually has less than 0.3 percent of THC. So, smoking marijuana will get you high, but smoking hemp usually won’t.

What happens when you smoke hemp?

Although hemp has small amounts of THC, the THC content is not enough to make you feel high. If your goal is not to get high, smoking hemp can be a pleasant and effective way to get other cannabinoids like CBD.

If you ate an edible or put a tincture under your tongue, the CBD would take much longer to get into your bloodstream. Moreover, some active ingredients are broken down and lost in the digestive tract. When you inhale CBD, your body gets more of the CBD in the smoke or vapour.

If you want a cleaner burn, you might want to use a hemp wick to light your hemp flower. Raw hemp wick covered in beeswax burns slowly because it is made of all-natural materials. Many users say this gives cannabis a better taste than a lighter or match.

Is hemp the same as CBD?

No. Hemp is a type of cannabis plant, while CBD is a cannabinoid. However, hemp does contain CBD. The amount of CBD in hemp differs from one strain to the next. Industrial hemp can have anywhere from 4% to 6% CBD, but certain types of hemp grown to produce CBD oils have 20% to 25% CBD.

However, it is worth noting that CBD from hemp and marijuana is exactly the same. Either choice will have the same effects and benefits on your body.

Does hemp flower show on drug tests?

You can’t fail a drug test if you only use CBD because the substance does not induce high like other cannabinoids like THC. However, a drug test will look for any traces of THC in your urine. Some full-spectrum CBD products may have traces of THC, which are tiny amounts. On the other hand, there are no traces of THC in CBD isolates or broad-spectrum products.

Even if you take something that does not have THC, you might still get a false positive on a drug test because not all drug tests are as accurate as others. There is a chance that the test will mistake CBD for THC, giving a false result. In addition, several other things can also change your drug test results. These include where you get your CBD, how much you take, how long you take it, your body chemistry, and other things.

Also, you need to know if the information on the label of the hemp product is correct. Even if it says “0% THC,” you won’t know unless you have proof, like a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from an independent testing facility, to back up the claim. Thus, you should only shop at trustworthy stores or dispensaries that only sell reliable and lab-tested products, such as BudLyft.

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Are hemp and weed the same plant?

Although they have a common ancestor in the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp and weed are two entirely different substances. The amount of THC in their chemical makeup is the most notable difference. Marijuana, or “weed,” is a slang term for the psychoactive chemical THC, found in concentrations as high as 30%. Hemp, on the other hand, has less than 0.3% THC and is hence not psychoactive.

Can you get high from hemp?

Hemp contains so little THC that it cannot cause the “high” commonly associated with marijuana. Instead, hemp is cultivated for its fiber and CBD content, which is used in various industrial and medicinal applications.

Is CBD only found in hemp?

Although CBD is most abundant in hemp, it is also present in other types of cannabis. However, because of legal restrictions around THC, products produced from hemp that contain CBD are more readily available.

What are the uses of hemp and weed?

Due to its high THC content, marijuana is mainly utilized for therapeutic and leisurely purposes. However, it’s been shown to help with chronic pain, nausea, and mental illness.

Because of its high CBD and low THC concentration, hemp is included in many remedies and supplements. Not only are hemp seeds edible, but the plant’s robust stalks may be used to make textiles, building materials, and biofuel.

Is it legal to grow hemp and weed?

The legality of growing hemp and weed varies significantly by location and is subject to change. Hemp cultivation is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, while weed cultivation is only for medical or recreational use in certain states. Always check local regulations before growing either plant.

Can hemp be used as a drug test alternative to weed?

While hemp won’t get you high, its use could result in a positive drug test. This is because most drug tests look for metabolites of THC, which can still be present in hemp in small amounts.

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