Differences between Hemp and Cannabis

Differences between Hemp and Cannabis

Hemp and Cannabis are often confused, in this article we will look at the differences between Hemp and Cannabis. Although they have a whole host of different applications and the potential to change the world of medicine and industry, they both have the same origin.

Are you in doubt about the difference between hemp and cannabis? Don’t worry, we’ll explain it all here, so you can easily explore the wide variety of content and products related to hemp and marijuana.


Hemp is a variety of the “Cannabis sativa” species and is arguably one of the most important plants cultivated by mankind. The use of this plant dates back some 10,000 years, and it serves numerous purposes: as a source of food for humans and livestock, and to make a myriad of things (from fabrics and paper to building materials). Chinese emperors already mentioned hemp and its usefulness some 6,000 years ago. And even the U.S. Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper (although the final version was written on a leather scroll).

Despite being part of the “Cannabis sativa” species, hemp cannot be consumed as a recreational drug, as it contains only trace amounts of THC (the compound in cannabis that causes the high). However, hemp does contain a good amount of CBD and other cannabinoids, and today it is used to make CBD products and supplements.

Hemp seeds have great nutritional value and are considered a “superfood”. They are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids, as well as protein, vitamin E, amino acids, minerals and other valuable nutrients.


This is where it starts to get a little more confusing. Unlike hemp, the term “cannabis” is more all-purpose, as it can basically be used to describe any plant or product of the genus Cannabis. So both hemp and marijuana are a type of cannabis, but the word “marijuana” is used to describe types of cannabis with significant levels of THC.

Today the term marijuana or cannabis is used to refer to weed, so you might hear both terms interchangeably. Sometimes it is also described as recreational cannabis, to indicate the psychoactive profile of a particular strain.

In general, if you hear or read the words hemp and cannabis used to distinguish two types of plants/products, you can assume that the cannabis in question has a more diverse cannabinoid profile and probably contains THC. Conversely, if the term “Cannabis sativa” is used interchangeably with hemp, it most likely indicates the taxonomy of the plant.

Technically, the genus Cannabis can be divided into three species or subspecies: C. sativa, C. indica and C. ruderalis. Marijuana, or cannabis for recreational use, can contain varying proportions of all three (sub)species; whereas hemp is derived exclusively from Cannabis sativa.


In a nutshell, the main difference between hemp and cannabis is that the former contains negligible amounts of THC (legally permitted). For a plant to be legally classified as hemp, it must have a THC content below a certain limit. Beyond this, it is important to understand that hemp is not a different species of cannabis. The differences are in chemical composition, cultivation, industrial applications and legality.


To be more specific, “Cannabis sativa” plants must contain less than 0.2% THC by dry weight to be classified as industrial hemp, in most of Europe. This limit is slightly higher in the USA, at 0.3% THC. Although some countries are beginning to legalize and regulate the cannabis market, THC remains an illegal drug under almost all drug-related treaties.

To date, hundreds of chemical compounds have been identified in the Cannabis sativa species. Although hemp contains much less THC than recreational cannabis, it contains many of the cannabinoids present in cannabis, such as CBD, CBC and CBDA. Hemp also contains most of the aromatic compounds (terpenes) of cannabis, as well as flavonoids, hydrocarbons, fatty acids and phenols in various concentrations.

Although hemp has long been used for its fibers and seeds, its relatively high levels of CBD make it the perfect crop for producing legal, high-quality CBD oil and supplements.


The typical marijuana plant looks very different from the hemp plant. Marijuana tends to have broader leaves and denser, more resinous buds surrounded by small hairs (pistils). Hemp plants grown from seed produce less resin, and the buds are likely to be smaller and less compact.

Hemp shows the typical characteristics of Cannabis sativa, including longer, thinner leaves and fibrous stems. Compared to a marijuana plant (which can be quite bushy and robust), the hemp plant is thinner, with fewer branches and foliage.

In large-scale cultivation, where many plants are grown together, the hemp plant may have a single large stalk. Hemp varieties grown for fiber and seed can be quite tall, reaching heights of 5-6 meters.


One of the main misconceptions about hemp, apart from the belief that it is a different species of cannabis, is that all hemp plants are male. But this is incorrect.

Hemp plants, as well as any other cannabis plant, can be either female or male. But only females develop flowers (buds), while males produce pollen sacs. When grown in close proximity, males can pollinate females, causing them to produce seeds.


There are good reasons why hemp has been one of the most prized and prolific plants ever cultivated. This plant has been very valuable throughout history for its diversity of uses; basically, every part of the plant has some use.

For quite some time, hemp was the plant of choice for producing fibers for clothing and other fabrics. In the centuries before the invention of synthetic fibers, hemp was also used to make boat sails and strong ropes. Hemp fibers made from the stalk of the plant are one of the strongest natural fibers in existence.

Hemp seeds continue to gain popularity, as they are considered a “superfood”. Given their high nutritional value, biochemists even suggest that these seeds could be an answer to world hunger and malnutrition problems.

In recent years, science has studied cannabinoids and their potential benefits, with promising results. Hemp-based beauty and skin care products are all the rage, along with CBD products, bringing hemp into the limelight.

Hemp is once again considered a versatile material for use in construction. Most components of this plant, including fiber and oils made from hemp, can be used by builders.


Products made from hemp are available in many places. Among the most popular are CBD oils and hemp oils. But sometimes the wide variety of products on the market can be confusing to consumers. One of the most common questions is what is the difference between cannabis oil, hemp oil and CBD oil. So how do these oils differ?


Cannabis oil (also called “hash oil”, “THC oil” or “Rick Simpson oil”) is made from the buds of the marijuana plant. Like recreational cannabis, it contains THC and generates a high. In most countries, cannabis oil has the same legal status as marijuana and cannot be purchased legally.


Hemp oil (or hemp seed oil) is produced from hemp seeds and contains no cannabinoids, but this does not mean that it has no value – on the contrary! Hemp oil offers all the nutritional benefits of hemp seeds, and is used in cooking and health food preparation.


The CBD contained in this oil is obtained from hemp. CBD oil contains cannabidiol (CBD), and no or minimal amounts of THC. Therefore, it does not produce a high. Some CBD oils contain pure cannabidiol (isolated CBD) dissolved in a carrier oil (such as olive, hemp, coconut or palm oil). On the other hand, full-spectrum CBD oils contain a blend of cannabinoids, terpenes and other beneficial phytochemicals along with the aforementioned carrier oils.

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