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Marijuana vs. Hemp: What’s the difference?

Let’s take a quick look at how the types of cannabis are linked. In biology, scientists classify elements into different hierarchies (called taxonomies); there are seven taxonomic ranks, as follows (from highest to most refined):

  • United,
  • Phylum (or Division),
  • Class,
  • Order,
  • Family,
  • Gender,
  • Species.

Cannabis is a genus in the Cannabaceae family. There are three common species in the genus of cannabis:

Cannabis sativa – it grows naturally in tropical areas and was originally the most popular species for recreational use; this plant can grow up to 3-4 meters, making it the tallest plant of the three species

Cannabis indica – “discovered” later than cannabis sativa, this species thrives in arid and mountainous regions, including areas such as India and Pakistan; this plant is generally shorter and bushy than sativa, often found in the form of fir.

Cannabis ruderalis – this plant adapts well to harsher climates; it is the smallest of the three species, quite resistant and is used both for its fibers and for nutrition, producing small amounts of THC with relatively higher amounts of CBD.

So far, neither marijuana nor hemp have appeared in our little scientific narrative. What does it give ??

In fact, “hemp” has been a term used for the cannabis sativa plant for centuries; only recently (and thanks to racist fears in early twentieth-century America), “marijuana” (the Mexican name for Mary Jane and meant to evoke the image of invading Mexican men targeting unrestricted sex and murder) used to describe the cannabis plant sativa. And here’s the big difference between these two descriptions:

Hemp – refers to a cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% THC (dry weight)

Marijuana – refers to any cannabis sativa plant that contains more than 0.3% THC (dry weight)

(For reference only, a cannabis sativa or cannabis indica plant may contain up to 30% THC.)

Yes… “marijuana” was invented as a scary term to prevent interested parties from participating in a plant that offers euphoric and medical benefits. Unfortunately, that fear tactic worked for more than a century!

We will now examine cannabis sativa in a little more detail, in their forms known as hemp and marijuana, starting with the older and more common term: hemp.

Cannabis sativa – Hemp

It is known that the hemp plant was a popular and prized product cultivated by many early presidents, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In fact, the history of hemp as a textile fiber dates back 10,000 years, with the discovery of a hemp cloth in Mesopotamia in 8000 BC, making it probably the oldest crop cultivated by the human species.

It also has a reputation as one of the strongest natural fibers found in the world. For centuries, and even today, hemp has been found in several industries, including:

Body care – conditioners, cosmetics, lotions, shampoos and soaps

Building materials – acrylics, coatings, fiberboard, fiberglass replacement, fuel, insulation, oil paints, printing ink, solvents and varnishes;

Food – EFA food supplements, hemp protein powder, hemp seed hearts and hemp seed oil;

Industrial textiles – canvas, carpet, formwork, castings, mesh, rope and tarpaulins;

Paper – cardboard, newsprint, packaging, printing;

Textiles – clothing, denim, diapers, fine fabrics, handbags and footwear

Due to its versatility, cannabis sativa (like hemp) has served mankind over thousands of years. And somewhere along this line, someone discovered the THC component of cannabis sativa, opening another door to the world of discoveries, delight and remedies.

Cannabis sativa like Marijuana

Imagine being one of the first people to experience the euphoric effects of cannabis sativa through some form of consumption. Although he may have created images of what heaven must be like, he certainly made life on earth immediately better.

Despite its long-standing illegal absurdity in America and even with the deliberate suppression of scientific studies to determine the potential health benefits of using marijuana, we already know it can help the human body in the following ways (according to Harvard Medical School):

Chronic pain – they are safer than opiates (and not addictive!). They can replace NSAIDs (such as Advil or Aleve) for those with kidney or ulcer problems.


Muscle relaxant – patients found it useful when suffering from Parkinson’s disease;

Nausea – cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are considered the best way to alleviate nausea symptoms;

Weight Loss – Even with harmful snacks, users are less likely to develop metabolic syndrome which increases the difficulty of losing weight;

Glaucoma – several studies from 1970 indicate that THC and CBD reduce intraocular pressure, a major condition of glaucoma;

PTSD – soldiers and people suffering from physical trauma have found relief for PTSD through THC and CBD;

As mentioned earlier, all of this was discovered, despite the fact that the federal government intimidated others (including scientists) for fear of criminal charges and possible imprisonment for exploring any possible benefits of cannabis sativa and its cousin, cannabis indica .

The main differences between hemp and marijuana

As with any related species, there are differences between hemp and marijuana. The differences really stand out, so let’s take a closer look at these differences.

Chemical composition

While hemp and marijuana produce THC and CBD, hemp plants are known for their low THC levels. Today, a hemp plant cannot contain more than 0.3% of the THC content; otherwise, it is automatically classified as a marijuana plant instead of hemp and the usual marijuana laws come into play.

As I mentioned before, a cannabis sativa plant (or cannabis indica) can contain up to 30% THC content, enough to get that euphoric state so loved and appreciated.


When growing these two types of cannabis sativa, different approaches to growth and care apply.

With hemp, it is about quantity, so growers seek to maximize both its size and yield. This means that the hemp plant is generally grown outdoors and requires little care and continuous attention throughout its life cycle.

Marijuana can be grown either indoors or outdoors, these plants require much more care and attention. This involves the reproduction of strains in controlled environments, the optimization of certain characteristics (such as taste, effect, appearance and texture) and the production of enough female plants to perpetuate the new strain in the future.

For years, both factories have suffered legal problems. Until 2018, with the implementation of the law on improving agriculture in 2018, hemp was regulated as an illegally controlled substance, as defined in the law on the prevention and control of drug abuse.


While many states reduce or eliminate criminal charges for possession or use of marijuana (i.e., cannabis sativa with a THC content exceeding 0.3%), it is still a federal crime (for now; with so many states legalizing marijuana, the government The federal government is looking more closely at their unreasonable position.


Due to its 10,000-year-old nature, hemp has a wide variety of uses that extend to many needs and areas of interest. This makes the hemp plant an amazing, natural, multifunctional product in areas including food, textiles, body care and building materials, to name a few.

On the other hand, in the decades since cannabis sativa with a high THC content has been studied, the results already show that government perpetrators are wrong in their panic propaganda that “marijuana” will kill you, drive you crazy, or convert you. On the contrary, THC has saved countless lives; this presentation does not even try to count all the people whose lives have been improved by ingesting THC in one form or another.

 So here they are. Let’s take a look at the list of terms that started this “song”: 

  • Cannabis,
  • Sativa,
  • Indica,
  • THC,
  • CBD,
  • Marijuana,
  • Hemp.

If we did our job correctly, you should better (and more accurately) understand these terms, including how and where to use them. And maybe you can pass the information on to your friends and acquaintances when they start to misuse these less used terms.


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