Marijuana is legal for adult recreational use in less than half of the 50 states. Use of cannabis is approved in DC and 21 states. Fortunately, the 2018 Farm Bill means hemp is legal in all 50 states.

What’s the difference between hemp and marijuana, though? Aren’t they the same plant? While they’re both cannabis, we want to explain the big differences today. Let’s dive into our guide to clear up the confusion on hemp vs. marijuana.

Hemp VS Marijuana: Clearing up the Confusion

Even though the market is thriving for both of these plants, a fair amount of people may still be surprised to know they are two different things. Confusion can cause people to try the wrong product and be disappointed with the outcome.


Both hemp and cannabis have a long and storied history that you can find among many different cultures. Some of the oldest record surrounding these plants dates back to 12,000 years ago in East Asia.

Even though hemp and marijuana are both in the cannabis family, they became popular in the ancient world for different reasons.

Looking back in time, we can start to form a clear picture of how these two similar plants have widely other applications worldwide.

Let’s take a second to dip into the rich history to understand better what they are and what they do.

What is Hemp?differences between hemp and marijuana

Hemp has a history as long as marijuana but with less notoriety. There is historical evidence of hemp as an industrial material dating back 10,000 years. Some examples of this are bowstrings and early forms of paper.

Eventually, hemp was cultivated enough to become a trade item sought in multiple countries. The Silk Road facilitated this expansion and provided hemp fiber to multiple nations.

Hemp enjoyed a growing popularity spike that developed into new materials, such as clothing, that made the versatile plant extremely popular.

Hemp’s popularity peaked in the 18th century.

The timeframe marked the invention of the cotton gin, giving rise to mass-produced cotton fiber as direct competition to hemp fabric.

what is marijuanaWhat is Marijuana? 

Like hemp, marijuana has a rich history of cultivation and application in ancient cultures.

Since marijuana is also a branch of the cannabis family, it was cultivated not long after hemp was widely harvested.

There are records as far back as 2737 B.C. of Emperor Shen Neng of China being prescribed a form of marijuana tea to treat medical needs.

Some of these early remedies centered around treating things like rheumatism, malaria, and even gout.

It wasn’t long after that that marijuana spread across Asia, India, the Middle East, and the Coast of Africa.

Medical professionals in America even utilized marijuana during the 18th century. At the end of the 19th Century, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 came into effect, causing a shift in what was considered safe practice.

Following this was the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which made the transfer or possession of cannabis illegal.

So even though recorded history was full of medical and recreational use of marijuana, it had officially become a taboo subject.

Legality of HempSourPineapple-CBDFlower

Legality is a subject that matters when telling the difference between hemp and marijuana. It matters more than the other differences by a pretty wide margin. 

While marijuana and hemp have legal status, those two don’t always overlap and are incredibly location specific.

Sometimes all it takes is accidentally crossing a state line to make a regular purchase a felony.

When it comes to what’s legal, it all comes down to what’s protected federally, and what’s dictated at the local and state level.

Currently, 22 states have legalized marijuana. That doesn’t mean you should start rolling over state lines between these locations though. Each state has minor differences in the law such as the total amount you can carry as well as where you are allowed to use it. 

The small changes can have big penalties that vary so it’s best to know your local law ahead of time. 

Hemp on the other hand is now a federally protected crop thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. The amount of locations that provide hemp-derived textiles and non-THC cannabinoids is much broader.

It’s always best to keep up with your local laws when looking into marijuana and hemp purchases to make sure you aren’t accidentally setting yourself up for trouble.  Lets have a quick recap over the general laws as they stand today to get as better grasp of the situation. 

HHC's originHemp VS Marijuana: Uses

Both hemp and marijuana have uses they are specifically grown for. These purposes sometimes overlap, but each has a niche they specialize in fulfilling.

A prime example of these differences can be shown in how bulk crops are grown. Marijuana is grown mainly for personal and medicinal applications. The selling point for marijuana usually focuses on its THC potency.

Hemp is grown in large swaths for industrial purposes. The uses for industrial hemp range from building materials down to clothing substitutions. The applications for hemp aren’t limited to just material, however.

Hemp also enjoys a prominent place in the spotlight surrounding cannabinoids. Unlike marijuana, hemp is often grown to cultivate lesser-known cannabinoids. Some examples are CBD and CBN, which don’t have an identical chemical makeup as THC. 

It’s important to know the difference since there are just as many consumable hemp products as there are marijuana ones. If you are unfamiliar with the cannabinoid family, you may think you are getting something for recreation and end up disappointed.

Hemp VS Marijuana: Effects

Understanding both uses is understanding what they are grown to accomplish. Above, we covered different uses outside of ingestion, but hemp and marijuana are also purchased for personal use.

Although the way people may use hemp and THC may be similar, the effects are anything but.

Let’s take a closer look at the effects both offer to the average user and why someone would purchase them.

Effects of Using Hempdelta-8-vegan-gummies

Hemp is not a psychoactive plant. One of the defining characteristics of hemp is that is has a naturally low THC percentage. Since hemp isn’t grown for recreational purposes, the focus lies on its other cannabinoid compounds.

CBD is one of these compounds. The effects of CBD have often been described as calming and relaxing without any psychoactive effects.

Since CBD is a different cannabinoid than THC, it doesn’t have the same interaction with the cannabinoid receptors in our brains.

Similarly, CBG lacks any interactions that result in the user getting high. The lack of intoxication keeps these cannabinoids separated from THC and includes them in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The medical application of non-THC cannabinoids has been a scorching topic recently and has seen more funding for research than at any other point in history. With each new discovery, hemp is securing its place in both the industrial and medical fields as a staple crop.

Effects of Using Marijuana

Marijuana is a THC-heavy plant in the cannabis family that has strong psychoactive effects.

The effects stimulate the pleasure part of the brain and release dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for the relaxed and euphoric feeling you get from smoking.

That doesn’t mean that all effects of marijuana are positive, though. Not all brains respond the same to THC; some people can have effects that are the opposite of what is described above. Instead, people may end up feeling anxious and restless.

Paranoia and panic are also side effects for those who don’t respond well to THC. THC can cause unpleasant highs that run the risk of feeding into clinical depression.

Whether positive or negative, smoking marijuana will allow the user to feel the full effects within 30 minutes.

Edibles are slower to peak but also take much longer to come down from. With THC strength being a tad unpredictable, it may be hard to judge how much you should use.

Hemp VS Marijuana Recap:

    • Hemp differs from marijuana in that it’s federally legal. 
    • The legal definition of “hemp” is any cannabis plant that contains 0.3% delta-9 THC or less by weight.
    • Marijuana is any cannabis plant that goes above that percentage of delta-9 THC.
  • We offer hemp products that include delta-8 THC or legal amounts of delta-9 THC, so they’re still psychoactive – enjoy a legal kind of stoned! 

Final Thoughts on Hemp VS Marijuana

Even though hemp and marijuana are both plants in the cannabis family, and both look similar, they have followed many different paths throughout history.

Both plants may look similar, but their chemical properties are vastly different and provide multiple materials for various purposes. Although (marijuana) offers psycho-active effects, that doesn’t mean its only purpose is recreational use.

Similarly, although hemp enjoys a growing spotlight in the industrial application setting, that doesn’t mean it is limited to its physical fiber.