Updated on August 13th, 2021
Consumption of Cannabis and Hemp is gaining in popularity while at the same time getting a lot of media attention. But there’s a lot of misinformation and confusion around hemp and cannabis.
What exactly are the differences and similarities? Or are they both the same?
5 Features of Cannabis
Differences between Cannabis and Hemp
To get it out of the way: Hemp and Cannabis are not the same. They are related and have similarities, but there are also some distinct differences.
- The mind-altering active component THC is probably the most significant difference between hemp and cannabis. Cannabis has a large concentration of THC and a small concentration of CBD (Cannabidiol). Hemp, on the contrary, has a large concentration of CBD and a low concentration of THC.
- THC is the component (cannabinoid) that causes a high if present in large enough concentrations. CBD is another cannabinoid of both hemp and cannabis. Scientists proved that CBD is an excellent supplement to our homeostasis or health balance (CBD benefits).
- Therefore you can’t get ‘high’ from hemp, but you can get ‘high’ from cannabis. Also, CBD has virtually no side effects.
- Cultivation and harvesting form another difference between the two plants. Farmers mainly cultivate cannabis plants with high THC concentrations. They harvest them for recreational and medical cannabis products, like pure THC distillate.
- Hemp farmers, on the contrary, cultivate to have high CBD and low THC concentrations, which are less than the allowable amount of 0.3%. Farmers harvest the seeds and CBD flowers for health products. Go to this page to read more about it.
- The legal status of Cannabis and Hemp is different as well. Cannabis is not legal in the US and most countries worldwide, whereas hemp is legal in almost every country.
- The intended purpose. People use cannabis mainly for recreational and medicinal purposes, while hemp is primarily used for medicinal purposes and industrial products.
Some people think there is a difference between hemp oil vs. CBD oil for anxiety. But hemp oil is clearly made from hemp, but CBD oil could be made of hemp or cannabis.
In 2019 you could buy cannabis online, only in Canada, but this year in some US States, it became legal to buy THC drops online, as well as other cannabis products. There are even THC gummies for sale.
THC / CBD content in Hemp vs. Cannabis
3 types of cannabis/hemp strains
There are probably thousands of different strains. But, we have pictured so far two significant groups of strain breeds that farmers created by decades of selective breeding:
- THC dominant strain – Cannabis
- CBD Dominant strain – Hemp
Each of these two has its specific purpose for which farmers carefully bread them. And both have their particular health benefits. However, the cannabinoids’ specific benefits add up and create a synergetic effect when keeping them together. Therefore, the third group of strains that farmers cultivated is the:
- Hybrid strain
Some have a close to 50/50 ratio of CBD/THC. But they come in all ratios. For example, 15% CBD and 10% THC (% dry weight). So, the ratio between them is the CBD/THC ratio.
Hence, in the above example, we have a 60/40 CBD/THC ratio.
Dry weight explained
When you read potency percentages on the web or the cannabis/hemp packaging, almost always dry weight % is meant, although often omitted. Dry weight percentage is the CBD or THC weight percentage of the dried raw material.
For example, if you have 20% THC, one-fifth of the dried flower’s weight is THC. The other 80% is plant tissue, vitamins, minerals, etc. Except for water, as scientists take this out of the equation, it is the dry weight ratio.
If you get stuck on how many CBD drops to take because your package/bottle only contains a CBD percentage, check out our CBD dosage calculator.
Is CBD from Cannabis better than CBD from Hemp?
The fact of the matter is that, to a certain extent, it doesn’t matter where CBD comes from. Just as it doesn’t matter if you get your vitamin C from oranges or lemons, marijuana, the psychotropic strain of cannabis, contains the identical CBD as hemp -just less- and your endocannabinoid system cannot tell the difference.
Producers extract oil, which usually contains just under 40% CBD. They isolate cannabidiol to get an end product with 99% pure CBD, generally in powder or crystal form, by purifying the oil.
Check out the crystals’ uses in our CBD crystal review and determine the best crystal brands. If you are looking for THC crystals for sale, you can visit your local dispensary, but chances are they don’t carry them. In some states, though, you can now get THC products online.
Full-spectrum oil contains, besides CBD also other cannabinoids and terpenes. Therefore, it still matters which strains producers use. Like the best CBD for focus also contains other cannabinoids and terpenes that enhance focus.
When we look at CBD oil, the source is also essential. Not in terms of marijuana vs. hemp but in terms of organic vs. non-organic. Have farmers sprayed it with pesticides, etc., etc.?
It is important because the oil does contain CBD and other substances, like a carrier oil, that could contain impurities.
The cultivation, harvesting, and extraction processes are therefore of utmost importance.
Is hemp illegal?
It would be impossible to examine and list the legal legislation of all countries. So, we limit ourselves in this article to the United States. The government passed two fundamental acts during the last century that determined the entire cannabis legislation in the US until recently. Only in recent years have we seen a shift in cannabis acceptance in the opposite direction.
In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act took effect by placing taxes on cannabis. It ‘prohibited’ cannabis or hemp growth in the United States. The government replaced this act in 1969 with the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. This act denounced all forms of cannabis, including hemp, as illegal to grow by classifying it as a Schedule I drug.
The government defines Schedule I drugs as drugs with no medical use and a high potential for abuse, like heroin, cocaine, etc.
In 2014, the government passed the US Farm Bill. This made hemp consumption lawful in all states and allowing states to grow industrial hemp for research and development. Some states have consequently introduced limited programs.
In 2015, the government introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act that would remove hemp from the controlled substances list when the concentration of THC is less than 0,3%. This act did, however, not pass yet.
Is hemp a drug?
Perhaps we should rephrase the question: “Is hemp a medicine or an illegal drug?” Officially, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize hemp as medication, but CBD is considered a food supplement.
Because farmers primarily cultivated industrial hemp to contain less than 0.3% of THC, sales and consumption of hemp products are entirely legal in all states. But until the Industrial Hemp Farming Act passes, it is not lawful to grow in all states. However, some states have passed enabling legislation for limited cultivation and some even for commercial production.
Technically, however, it is clear that we should categorize neither cannabis nor hemp as illegal drugs. Many people, including part of the medical establishment, think that marijuana and hemp do not belong on the controlled substances list in the Schedule I category because of proof of their therapeutic use and lack of potential for abuse.
“Is D8-THC naturally occurring in hemp?” is what people ask us frequently lately. The answer is yes, but in tiny quantities. Please follow the link to read the full product review.
What is hemp used for?
The Congressional Research Service (PDF) produced a report in 2017 describing hemp has usage in at least nine markets and more than 25,000 products. Besides the extraordinary health and homeostasis benefits that CBD, one of the main cannabinoids of hemp, has -which we describe thoroughly on this website- we have listed some of these other purposes for hemp:
Hemp plant uses
- Construction materials
- Food, nutrition, beverages
- Personal care
Some of the 25,000 Hemp Industrial products
- Food /
- Animal food
- Construction materials
- Insulation materials
Can you smoke hemp?
Yes, you can smoke hemp, just like cannabis. However, as we pointed out in the differences above, you cannot get high from smoking or consuming hemp. But from marijuana, you can. You have to know how to use CBD.
Smoking is, however, bad for your health as we all know it. Therefore vaping is a much better alternative. Vaping also has the fastest effect lead time.
At iDWeeds, we are experienced users of cannabidiol, and therefore we have tested the best CBD oils for pain and the best CBD oils for anxiety. And if your dog is in pain or has health problems, don’t let it suffer because there is cannabidiol oil for canines too.
Sources: https://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm484109.htm https://ministryofhemp.com/hemp/not-marijuana/ https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/whats-the-deal-with-these-high-cbd-strains https://www.projectcbd.org/guidance/cannabis-oil-vs-hemp-oil http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/ten-of-the-best-cbd-hemp-strains https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468170916300868 http://thetraveljoint.com/hemp-cbd-oil-vs-whole-plant-cbd-oil/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp https://ministryofhemp.com/hemp/legal/ http://cannabisreports.org/hemp-uses-top-uses-for-hemp/ https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/hemp-101-what-is-hemp-whats-it-used-for-and-why-is-it-illegal https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka/2013/05/29/industrial-hemp-a-win-win-for-the-economy-and-the-environment/#47b6bbd4289b