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What is the difference between marijuana and hemp?

August 17th, 2019


Probably the most often asked question we get at joeyhemp.com is “What is CBD?”. But running a VERY close second place is “What is the difference between marijuana and hemp?”.
Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, both with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. But they have a totally unique and dissimilar genetic profiles Industrial Hemp is always Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. Industrial hemp is fiber rich and tall stalk. It usually has little, if any, flowering buds. Marijuana strains plants will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. As demand for new CBD products increases, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes. 


The acronym CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of many cannabinoids found in both hemp and marijuana. The term can apply to multiple cannabinoids such as CBC, CBG, CBN, and so on. 


Almost always marijuana has a high amount of THC and a lower amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and much smaller amounts of THC, the component that gets you “high”. The cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’


Hemp is used in many different products. Popular uses are herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, and natural plastic. Marijuana on the other hand is usually used just recreationally or medicinally.


The term cannabis oil can mean either marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are just two different forms of cannabis. In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”


CBD oil is broadly considered to be any oil that is extracted from Cannabis Sativa, with high concentrations of cannabinoids except THC, which makes up less than .03% of the oil. 


It is no surprise that often once people learn cbd benefits, their next question is “does CBD show up on a drug test?”  The answer is an unequivocal “no”.  Drug tests look for the specific cannabinoid THC. If you use a product with no detectable levels of THC  you are in no danger of failing a drug test.