For many CBD users, figuring out the difference between hemp and marijuana can be confusing. Hemp flower and marijuana can look and smell the same. So what is the difference between hemp and marijuana, and what does that mean for those looking into buying cannabidiol (“CBD”) or hemp products online? 

Cannabis vs. Hemp

Although marijuana and hemp are both varieties of the cannabis plant and can be smoked, infused, or rolled (or sold as pre rolls), the primary difference is the amount of THC each contains. Hemp contains less than 0.3% of THC, while marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC– sometimes up to 30%. The psychoactive “high” often associated with cannabis comes from THC. The difference in their THC levels is why there are different laws and legal classifications associated with hemp and marijuana. In short, marijuana can get you high, CBD and CBG hemp flower cannot. However, don’t let that deceive you; hemp, including CBD and CBG, have many uses and benefits.  

While both hemp and marijuana contain CBD, the CBD found in CBD products such as CBD lotions, CBD tinctures, and CBD prerolls comes from hemp flowers. Hemp actually has a higher concentration of CBD than marijuana, with most hemp flower containing 12-18% CBD and marijuana containing less than 1% CBD. 

Hemp and its uses: CBD

Hemp and its many components– hemp flowers, hemp seeds, and hemp roots– have a variety of uses, and it is fairly easy to grow and harvest. Hemp fibers are useful for textiles such as clothing, ropes, and canvas. You might have even seen food that uses hemp at the grocery store, such as hemp hearts or hemp flour! Unlike marijuana, which is more frequently grown indoors and in a highly controlled environment, hemp is easy to grow outdoors and the plants can still thrive when grown in close proximity to each other. 

Legality of hemp vs. marijuana 

One of the other differences between hemp and marijuana relates to the law. Hemp, and hemp-derived products such as CBD that contain less than 0.3% THC, are legal in all fifty states, while marijuana is still illegal on a federal level. 

After the Marihuana Act of 1937, both hemp and marijuana were made illegal in the United States. However, the 2014 Farm Bill made the distinction between marijuana and hemp based on THC levels, and allowed for the growing of industrial hemp. However, at the time, extracting CBD from hemp flowers was still illegal, although many authorities differed on the technicalities of this law. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp agriculture and CBD-infused products in all fifty states. Marijuana, on the other hand, remains federally illegal, and state laws on medicinal or recreational marijuana vary. 

So Why Does Hemp’s Classification Matter? 

Both hemp and the well known smokable marijuana buds that are intoxicating come from the cannabis plant, but because of their varying compositions, there are different psychoactive effects and laws that apply to each type. Because of its low THC content, hemp flower can be used to derive cannabinoids such as CBG and CBD for use in infused products; and, without the legalization of hemp, the CBD or CBG industry as it exists today would be vastly different.


If you love hemp products, CBD, and CBG as much as we do, check out our new line of Urb pre rolled hemp cigarettes


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