Hemp vs. Marijuana

Hemp and Marijuana are two plants that have been grouped together for years, but they are completely different. From the color of the plant to the chemical composition, learn what makes these two so significantly different–and then help us spread the word.

1. The Plant Structure

Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis species, members of the Cannabis Sativa family. However, the two are completely different plants and are very distinguishable in several ways. Marijuana has broad leaves, denser flowers and is generally short and bushy. Hemp, on the other hand, has skinny leaves more towards the top of the plant and is taller and skinnier than marijuana leaves.

In addition to how they look, they are grown in completely different environments. Marijuana is grown in a carefully controlled, warm and humid environment with a 60-90 day growth cycle, whereas hemp can grow in a variety of climates with a 108-120 day growth cycle.

Interestingly, medical cannabis and hemp cannot be grown too close together, so if hemp grows anywhere near marijuana, the hemp pollen will ruin the marijuana crop immediately.

2. The Plant Composition

There are two compounds (called Cannabinoids) in cannabis plants that are important for you to know when learning about the difference between these two plants:

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and
Cannabidiol (CBD).

Both are rich and dominant compounds in the Cannabinoid family, each providing different benefits to the human body. THC causes psychoactive effects (or gets you “high”) while CBD does not. Both hemp and marijuana contain each of these compounds, but in vastly different concentrations of each.

Marijuana is heavy in THC, with concentrations between 15% and 40%, and hemp contains 0.3% or less. What does that mean? According to Ministry of Hemp, it means “your lungs will fail before your brain attains any high from smoking industrial hemp.”

3. The Usage

The chemical composition explains where each plant is used and for what.

Due to its bountiful amounts of THC, marijuana is grown for those psychoactive properties for medicinal and recreational use, through a variety of methods (smoking, ingesting, or even injecting directly into the body). THC is also often extracted from marijuana to be used on its own in vaporizers, capsules, edibles, and more.

Hemp, however, is primarily used for industrial purposes and is used to produce all kinds of resources–such as paper, clothing, biofuel, food products, oils, and more. As CBD usage becomes more and more popular, hemp is also used to produce a variety of THC-free CBD products as well.