Hemp vs Marijuana: How to Distinguish Between the Two
Step into the dynamic and ever-expanding universe of cannabis, where terms like hemp, marijuana, and weed weave a complex tapestry. Navigating this intricacy might leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed, but fear not! This article is your friendly guide, specially crafted for novice growers seeking some clarity.
Together, we'll explore the hemp vs marijuana, sprinkled with practical tips to help you confidently tell them apart.
Is Hemp and Marijuanas the Same Plant?
What is Marijuana?
marijuana grown at home with Hey abby indoor grow box
Marijuana is a broad term encompassing various strains of the cannabis plant, that are utilized for medicinal or recreational purposes, known for their psychoactive effects.
Marijuana is often referred to as "weed" since it contains different levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound responsible for inducing the euphoric "high" experienced by users. Yet this plant has gained popularity not only for its recreational consumption but also for its medicinal properties.
Medical marijuana is widely regarded as a beneficial treatment for numerous diseases and is legally approved by the majority of states in the US.
What is Hemp? Are They the Same?
Hemp is another member of the cannabis family, specifically derived from the sativa strain. While both hemp and marijuana belong to the cannabis genus, they're quite different. Industrial hemp is legally required to contain 0.3% THC content or less, distinguishing it from marijuana with its higher THC levels.
Unlike marijuana, hemp is a versatile resource employed in various industries such as food, clothing, personal care products, and more.
4 Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana
Hemp finds its primary application in industrial settings, valued for its robust fibers. These fibers are expertly woven into resilient textiles and eco-friendly paper. Beyond this, hemp seeds contribute to the production of nutritious oils and protein-rich food products. Moreover, hemp's potential even extends to construction materials, with its fibers reinforcing composites for sturdy and sustainable building components.
In contrast, marijuana boasts diverse therapeutic and recreational applications. Its medicinal properties address conditions like chronic pain and nausea, with the compound CBD offering anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety benefits. Used as an alternative medicine, marijuana helps to manage symptoms associated with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. On the recreational front, its psychoactive properties, particularly THC, provide euphoric experiences desired by users seeking relaxation and altered states of consciousness.
The legal standing of hemp has expanded significantly, notably with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized its cultivation and sale. This legislation reclassified hemp as an agricultural commodity, setting a THC threshold of 0.3% or less. This pivotal move allowed hemp to flourish across diverse sectors, from agriculture to manufacturing.
In contrast, marijuana's legal status is dynamic and varies across jurisdictions. While some states have embraced its medicinal and, in some cases, recreational use, others maintain stricter regulations or outright prohibition. The allowance for individuals to grow marijuana at home is more limited, with only 24 states permitting such practices as of 2024. Federally classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, marijuana's legal nuances result in a patchwork of regulations across the nation.
3. Psychoactive Effects
As hemp comes with negligible THC content, consuming hemp-derived products does not induce the typical "high" associated with marijuana. Instead, individuals might experience a subtle sense of relaxation and calmness without the euphoric or intoxicating sensations linked to THC-rich strains.
Conversely, marijuana is renowned for its pronounced psychoactive properties. Higher THC levels in marijuana interact with the endocannabinoid system, triggering neurotransmitter release and inducing euphoria and altered perceptions. This psychoactive dimension forms the essence of marijuana's recreational appeal, catering to users seeking diverse experiences, from relaxation to heightened sensory perception.
First of all, hemp and marijuana manifest distinct growth profiles. Hemp plants stand tall with a slender profile, towering over marijuana. Their leaves, notably slim, contribute to an upright and elongated appearance. In contrast, marijuana plants exhibit a bushier and more compact demeanor, with shorter heights and broader leaves, creating a lush and robust visual identity.
What's more, growing hemp and marijuana tends to require different methods. Hemp thrives in larger, spaced-out fields, leveraging its tall and slender growth for efficient harvesting. This method allows for ample exposure to sunlight and airflow. In contrast, marijuana cultivation may demand more meticulous and controlled environments, such as indoor grow cabinets or regulated outdoor spaces, along with careful defoliation and other training techniques, to manage the plant's bushier growth and optimize conditions for THC production.
It's thanks to hemp's streamlined and open structure that the plants can be harvested on a larger scale and be suitable for industrial applications.
How to Distinguish Hemp vs Marijuana
Hemp plants are typically taller with more spaced-out leaves, while marijuana plants are bushier, featuring denser foliage and a more compact visual profile.
Hemp leaves often have more elongated and narrow shapes, compared to the broader marijuana leaves.
Hemp plants emit a milder, earthy scent, subtle and less pronounced. In contrast, marijuana carries a strong and distinct aroma, often characterized by its potent, sweet, or skunky fragrance.
With minimal THC content, hemp does not produce the characteristic high associated with marijuana use.
1. Can You Smoke Hemp?
Yes, you can smoke hemp, but it won't deliver the same psychoactive effects as smoking marijuana. Hemp is often smoked for its potential relaxation benefits.
2. Does Hemp Have CBD?
Absolutely, hemp is a significant source of CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive compound with potential therapeutic properties.
For novice growers, understanding the differences between hemp and marijuana is crucial. While these plants share a familial connection, their traits, applications, and effects diverge significantly. This knowledge serves as your compass, guiding you on a journey of exploration within the intricate landscape of these related yet distinct members of the cannabis family.
Get Weekly Expert Tips, and Grow Healthy Plants
Join our newsletter to get exclusive growing tips delivered directly to your inbox.