Know the Differences Between Marijuana, Cannabis, and Hemp

Know the Differences Between Marijuana, Cannabis, and Hemp

In the world of botanicals and alternative medicine, terms like marijuana, cannabis, and hemp are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion among consumers. Are they really the same thing, or are there distinct differences between them? Let's look into the nuances of these terms to shed light on their meanings and implications.

Defining the Terms

Firstly, let's clarify the terminology:

Marijuana: This term typically refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant, which contain psychoactive compounds such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Marijuana is primarily used for its psychoactive effects and is commonly associated with recreational and medicinal use.

Cannabis: Cannabis is the overarching term used to describe the genus of flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family. It encompasses various species, including Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. While marijuana is a type of cannabis, not all cannabis plants are marijuana.

Hemp: The word "hemp" refers to a type of Cannabis sativa plant that is grown for commercial use. Hemp, on the other hand, has much lower amounts of THC and higher levels of CBD. People use it for many different things, like making textiles, paper, energy, food, and CBD extracts. 

Differences between Marijuana, Cannabis, and Hemp

Now that we know what they are, let's look at the main differences between cannabis, marijuana, and hemp:

1) Chemical Composition: The most significant difference lies in the chemical composition of these plants. Marijuana is known for its high THC content, which produces psychoactive effects when consumed. In contrast, hemp contains negligible levels of THC (less than 0.3% in the United States), making it non-intoxicating.

2) Cultivation and Use: Marijuana is typically cultivated for its recreational and medicinal properties, with a focus on maximizing THC content. On the other hand, hemp is grown primarily for industrial purposes, such as fiber, seed oil, and CBD extraction. Hemp-derived CBD products have gained popularity for their potential health benefits without the psychoactive effects of THC.

3) Legal Status: The legal status of marijuana, cannabis, and hemp varies significantly depending on geographical location and regulatory frameworks. While marijuana remains federally illegal in many countries due to its psychoactive properties, hemp cultivation has been legalized in numerous regions for industrial and commercial purposes. The legality of CBD products derived from hemp also varies, with some jurisdictions permitting their sale and use under specific regulations.


In conclusion, while marijuana, cannabis, and hemp are all derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, they serve distinct purposes and possess different chemical compositions. Understanding these differences is essential for consumers, policymakers, and industry professionals alike.

Since laws and views about cannabis are always changing, it's important to learn the differences between these terms and what they mean. If you want to learn more about the healing effects of CBD, support legalizing cannabis, or just get more information on the subject, you need to know as much as you can.


"What's the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?" by Carly Fraser, Healthline.

"Hemp vs. Marijuana: What's the Difference?" by Andrew Myers, Project CBD.

"The Legal Status of CBD Oil in Europe in 2021" by Mike Hawthorne, Analytical Cannabis.

"The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research" by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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