Difference Between Marijuana and Industrial Hemp

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Nowadays, a large number of people tend to believe that hemp and marijuana are the same thing, as these terms are used to refer to the same plant. However, this is not quite true. Even though they represent one family of plants, there are some distinctive features between the two. In this regard, it is necessary to indicate several criteria by which it is possible to determine the difference between these plants. In this article, we are just going to explain how hemp differs from marijuana.

Hemp has a rich history. It has been grown for many millennia for various purposes, for example, the production of textiles, building materials, food, and skin and hair care products. The historical cultivation of hemp was by no means due to the purpose of its use to obtain a ‘highing effect’. On the other hand, cannabis is produced from cannabis leaves, and marijuana, in turn, is a plant that is grown, among other things, for consumption and to make users ‘high’. Thus, we can safely call marijuana a drug.

Physical appearance

To start with, marijuana, which can come from the cannabis Indica or Sativa species, is the dry flower of the female hemp plant. On the other hand, Hemp is created purely from the Sativa species.

Whilst marijuana and hemp both come from the Cannabis Sativa family, they have a several differences. Marijuana is thicker with wider leaves, and hemp with brighter leaves. However, along with these physical differences, their chemical composition set them apart as well.

Cannabis contains more than 100 chemical cannabinoids, but the amount of these cannabinoids is dramatically different depending on if the plant is hemp or marijuana.

THC content

The most common cannabinoid in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the cannabinoid chemical associated with the psychoactive effect of the plant. THC levels can reach up to 30% in marijuana, but in hemp the levels is less than 0.3%. This low THC level has made hemp an ideal material for use in various industries, including manufacturing of clothing and paper. 

The characteristic effect of marijuana on the human body is caused by the exposure of the body to the active substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is a high concentration of THC in the human body that changes the mood and perception of the user after consuming this plant.

Hemp will not get you as high like with the use of marijuana, as it contains a significant amount of a different cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is non-psychoactive, and can bring medicinal benefits due to its interactions with the central nervous system and immune system. This makes hemp CBD concentrates a popular ingredient.

There are more differences between hemp and marijuana, including but not limited to genetics, cultivation, and legality. 


The main difference between marijuana and hemp lies in the genetics of these plants. It has been proven scientifically that marijuana was first known. It was only in the process of its cultivation that the plant divided into two subspecies, which are now actively used for medical and other purposes. Due to genetic characteristics, it is marijuana that is used for narcotic purposes, and hemp for industrial functions. 


The next factor that shows the difference between hemp and marijuana is the mode of cultivation. There are different requirements for the cultivation of these plants, as they grow in different conditions.

Marijuana is a rather whimsical plant. So, for maximum fertility, it is necessary to ensure that the plant receives an adequate amount of light and that the environment in which it is growing is characterised by controlled and adequate temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide. This is not a complete list of requirements necessary for the successful growth of this plant. Hemp, on the other hand, is considered a more profitable plant in terms of its cultivation. It can be grown in a more neutral space. As a result, one can find huge hemp fields under the open sky, which grow successfully and will delight the owners with a rich harvest, even without providing any special care whatsoever. 

Scientific use

Although these substances were banned for a very long time (and remain banned in many countries), scientific research continued. Banning of the substances limited the speed and funding of the researches, so results have been slow.

Hemp has not only excelled for use for medical purposes, in the treatment and prevention of a large number of diseases, but has also found its way into the application of various industrial purposes. Using hemp, a superconductor was recently invented, which can lead to the creation of fast-charging batteries which may cause a significant technological breakthrough in the future.


The last thing that distinguishes hemp from marijuana is the legality of plants in different countries of the world. Given all of the above, it should not come as a big surprise that the governments of different states are more favourable towards hemp. This is confirmed by a list of more than 30 countries around the world where residents can safely grow and even use hemp for industrial or personal purposes.

Among the largest producers of hemp are China, Argentina and several countries of the European Union – including the UK. Despite the proven narcotic properties, there are several countries where marijuana is legalised as well. Among the most famous include The Netherlands, Canada, 20 US states and several other countries of the world.

So, there you have it, the differences between marijuana and hemp. These substances may be legal depending on the country or state you reside in.

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