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The Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis

Many cannabis consumers are confused about the difference between hemp and cannabis. Terms like hemp, weed, cannabis, marijuana, are a reflection of legalization and how society has had a love-hate relationship with the plant. Hemp and cannabis can often appear indistinguishable from one another.

Hemp and cannabis are broad classifications of cannabis that were adopted into time. Cannabis is a genus of plants in the Cannabaceae family, which consists of three primary species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. To learn more about the differences between Sativa and Indica visit our blog post ‘Sativa and Indica: an Easy Guide.”

Generally, the difference between hemp and cannabis is in the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp is usually considered so low in concentration of THC that it is non-psychoactive. Hemp is made from cannabis sativa, which is one of the most popular strains of cannabis. Cannabis, on the other hand, contains up to 30% THC and is generally grown to maximize the THC amount. Hemp is typically grown to maximize the overall size of the plant, which is usually achieved by growing outdoors, where a lot of cannabis throughout the world is grown indoors to control many variables such as climate, light, and soil nutrients.


What is Cannabis?

Cannabis which is also known as marijuana is used to classify varieties of cannabis that contain anything more than 0.3% THC. Cannabis is usually grown to maximize the amount of THC, therefore on average it has around 20 percent but that can vary. Cannabis usually has much more than that so they can produce a psychoactive effect on the user.


What is Hemp?

“Hemp” is a variety of Cannabis sativa plant that contains only 0.3% or less THC content. There is evidence of its use recorded throughout history, including the discovery of material made from hemp over 10,000 years ago. In fact, many believe that hemp was the first crop ever cultivated by humankind and has been a catalyst for some of the earliest innovations.

Hemp has been cultivated for all types of purposes, including clothing, textiles, rope and many industrial applications. Hemp can also be used to make biodiesel fuel and animal feed. Hemp seeds are also a source of vegan protein. It grows quickly, and its fibres are durable and versatile.


Key Differences Between Hemp and Cannabis 

As varieties of the same plant species, hemp and cannabis share many similarities. To understand how different these two are, consider these few differences between hemp and cannabis.

As mentioned, hemp and cannabis are harvested for different purposes so, naturally, they require different growing conditions. Cannabis is usually grown in controlled environments that are designed to optimize the breed’s characteristics, mainly their psychoactive properties and produce female plants that yield budding flowers.

To properly cultivate a cannabis plant, a grower must pay close attention to the plant at each stage of its life cycle and maintain exact conditions in its environment, such as proper temperature, lighting, and humidity.

In contrast, hemp is grown to maximize its size, increases the overall yield. Hemp is typically grown outdoors for best results and does not require the level of control and attention that is necessary to grow cannabis.



The classification between hemp and cannabis is really mostly semantics. It is a little unfortunate that hemp has been widely accepted while but now that these terms have become deeply ingrained in our society, this problem will be difficult to reverse. The only realistic solution is to re-educate our society and that takes time. With legalization over a year old, hopefully more people will understand the difference.


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