Hemp vs. Cannabis - What’s The Difference?

Hemp vs. Cannabis - What’s The Difference?

Ganja, Mary Jane, grass, pot — with so many names for the green plant we all know and love, it’s no surprise that a lot of people don’t know the difference betweenhemp vs. cannabis.

Contrary to popular belief, they're not different species of theCannabis sativa plant; they're just different names for the same plant. But if that's the case, what exactly sets them apart?

We’ll answer all that and more in this article, where we’ll have an in-depth discussion about hemp and cannabis, their key differences, benefits, uses, and more.

Hemp vs. cannabis - What’s the difference?

The main difference between hemp and cannabis is their THC content. Hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, which makes it non-psychoactive. On the other hand, cannabis (also known as “marijuana”) contains more than 0.3% THC. However, both hemp and cannabis come from the same species of plant and share many similar characteristics in terms of appearance and how they’re cultivated.




THC content

Less than 0.3% THC

More than 0.3% THC

CBD content

Higher %CBD

Lower %CBD 

Legal status

Generally legal

Regulated; depends on state laws


Industrial, medicinal

Medicinal, recreational


Taller with fewer leaves

Shorter with more leaves

What is hemp?

A strain ofCannabis sativa, hemp is known for its low THC of less than 0.3%. This means it doesn’t provide the psychoactive effects of cannabis or the “mind high.”

Hemp is a versatile plant and is mostly grown for its industrial uses. It’s usually cultivated for its fibers, seeds, and oils, which have a variety of uses. Hemp produces really strong fibers that can be used to make paper, clothes, and even building materials. 

Furthermore, hemp seeds are rich in protein and essential fatty acids, so they’re usually manufactured into dietary supplements. It’s also a very popularingredient in beauty products, as studies show that hemp oil can help treat skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, and atopic dermatitis, among others.

Cannabis plants for hemp production are usually tall (reaching up to 20 feet), have fewer and thinner leaves, and require less maintenance to grow.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis, also known as marijuana or pot, usually describes the different varieties of the Cannabis plant — specifically those with more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that creates that “high” feeling.

Unlike hemp, cannabis is usually cultivated for medical and recreational use. In the medical world, cannabis is shown to help with issues like pain relief, anxiety, and insomnia. For recreational purposes, it can be consumed in different ways, like smoking, vaping, tinctures, and edibles.

Cannabis cultivation puts more emphasis on maximizing bud production since that part contains the highest concentration of THC. These buds are then used to produce a variety of cannabis products, like flower, concentrates, and oil. Compared to hemp, cannabis plants bred for THC are shorter, have more leaves that are budded, and require a more controlled environment for cultivation.


Before 2018, the U.S. legal system considered both hemp and cannabis as illegal crops. However, the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (or 2018 Farm Bill) changed this by legalizing industrial hemp. This meant that growers with USDA-issued licenses could grow, produce, and sell hemp across the country, so long as the plant contains less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.

On the other hand, cannabis remains federally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. However, many states have legalized it either for medicinal or recreational use. The legal landscape surrounding cannabis continues to evolve at the state level, so regulations regarding the plant can vary significantly from one state to another.



  • Building materials
  • Textiles (canvas, bags, clothes)
  • Eco-friendly, biodegradable plastics
  • Biofuel
  • Paper products
  • Health foods (hemp seeds, hemp oil)
  • Body care products
  • CBD products (oils, tinctures, edibles)


  • Medicinal products (pain relief, anti-anxiety, sleep aid)
  • Flower
  • Concentrates (hash, dabs)
  • Edibles (brownies, gummies, chocolates)
  • Tinctures and oils (THC/CBD extracts)
  • Beverages (teas, sodas, cocktails)

For pain


Thanks to its high CBD content, hemp is known to provide pain relief. According to various studies, CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can potentially easechronic pain, reduce inflammation, and even help with conditions like arthritis and joint pain. Contrary to THC, the other main cannabinoid in cannabis plants, CBD doesn't get you high, leaving you with all the therapeutic benefits without the buzz. Hemp can be consumed in different forms, such as oils, topical creams, and edibles.


Cannabis has a high concentration of THC, which is known for its analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. That’s why many people turn to cannabis to manage conditions like chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. In pain relief treatments, cannabis can be consumed in different ways, including smoking, vaping, edibles, and topicals.

Benefits of using hemp

  • Sustainability: When you use hemp products, you’re choosing to be more sustainable. This is because hemp is very easy to grow as it requires less water and pesticides compared to traditional crops. It also grows very quickly, making it a popular choice for eco-friendly farming.
  • Biodegradable plastics: Speaking of sustainability, hemp-based plastics are biodegradable, offering an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastics.
  • Health products: Hemp seeds are packed with essential fatty acids, protein, and fiber, which can support heart health and reduce inflammation. Hemp oil, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, is often used in dietary supplements, as well as treatment for skin disorders, PMS, and menopause.

Benefits of using cannabis

  • Mental health: Research shows that cannabis can provide calming effects that can be beneficial in treating mental health issues such as anxiety and PTSD.
  • Pain relief: The THC and CBD in cannabis interact with pain receptors in the brain, making cannabis a popular choice for people suffering from chronic pain, arthritis, and migraines.
  • Cancer-related symptoms: Some research suggests that cannabis can help alleviate cancer-related symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, especially those associated with chemotherapy.
  • Neuro-protective Properties: According to studies, cannabis may provide neuroprotective properties, which can be beneficial in managing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. This is due to its ability to reduce inflammation and promote neurogenesis.

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