What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis?

difference between hemp and cannabis

Humans and cannabis have a long history together. This relationship began at around 4,000 BC. Cannabis was wild then and people harvested it to create textiles.

Over time humans discovered cannabis’ healing properties. Humans cultivated cannabis to get easy access to its benefits. Cannabis also became a huge part of religious rituals.

Cannabis took a downward turn in public opinion in the 1930s. Propaganda about misusing cannabis overwhelmed positive news from medical scientists. Propagandists didn’t bother to explain the important difference between hemp and cannabis.

In the 2010s, people turned to cannabis again as a treatment for medical conditions. The current laws lead to confusion about hemp and cannabis. Before you use cannabis, you should read more about these differences.

Getting to Know the Cannabis Plant

Cannabis is a blanket term that covers many different breeds of plants. When most people refer to cannabis, they’re thinking about a plant high in THC.

Using the legal definition, cannabis plants high in THC are marijuana. This definition was put into place in 2014 based on arbitrary guidelines from 1971.

Cannabis has three main types:

  • Cannabis Sativa – A tall, thin plant that grows best in hot climates. Sativa is uplifting and energizing.
  • Cannabis Indica – A shorter, bushier plant that loves colder climates. Indica promotes deep relaxation.
  • Cannabis Ruderalis – A small, shaggy-looking plant that grows far up north. Ruderalis has low THC levels. Breeders use it for its auto-flowering properties.

By breeding these three types, growers created hundreds of cannabis strains. Each has varying levels of cannabinoids like THC.

What Is Hemp and Is It Legal?

If you think that hemp plants look identical to cannabis, you’re right. The main difference between cannabis and hemp is their legal definitions.

In America, legal hemp is any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC. This strain is high in other cannabinoids like CBD and CBN.

Thanks to the 2017 Farm Bill, everyone has access to American-grown hemp products. The most notable product is CBD oil. Since then, CBD oil became one of the most popular supplements to date.

Hemp plants are also used to create:

  • Dairy alternatives
  • Fuel
  • Cosmetics
  • Concrete
  • Canvas
  • Shoes
  • Cardboard
  • Filters
  • Dog food

That’s only a small sample of the hemp products currently available. Hemp market projections say the plant will earn $26 billion in the US by 2025.

Should You Use Cannabis or Hemp?

This is where people get confused about the difference between hemp and cannabis. On a technical level, you can use both as a natural medical treatment. Smoking hemp isn’t the same as smoking marijuana, though.

The health benefits of cannabis are present in every type. Hemp-based CBD may help with pain and won’t leave you with a head high. Marijuana’s high THC levels work in the same way but also affect the way you think.

However you enjoy cannabis, avoid cannabinoid isolates. Research shows cannabinoids work best in unison.

Now Do You Understand the Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis?

Years of misinformation about the difference between hemp and cannabis changed public opinion. The truth is, there is no real difference. They’re the same plant but with different levels of cannabinoids.

The next time you hear cannabis misinformation, use this guide to teach them the truth. You may help improve their quality of life.

Want to learn more about cannabis? Browse our Healthcare and Lifestyle sections.


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