The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana

difference between hemp and marijuana cannabis sativa subspecies

‘Hemp’ and ‘Marijuana’ are literally the same plant.

“So… will hemp get me high?”

Absolutely not!  Allow us to explain…

While they certainly have different uses, these two words describe the exact same species of plant: Cannabis Sativa L. One provides medicine, and the other can be turned into clothing, plastics, food, and oil.  Unfortunately, some are confused about which is which – and why they’re seen as different… and that’s okay!

It’s why we decided to take a deeper look at the real differences between ‘hemp’ and ‘Marijuana’…

The answer is probably not what you think!

Is Hemp the Same Thing as Marijuana?

The short answer to this question is: Yes!

Hemp and Marijuana belong to the same plant species: cannabis Sativa LThe most important thing to remember is that the species contains three genders:

      • Male
      • Female
      • Hermaphrodite

Hemp has long been the word used to refer to male cannabis grown for industrial purposes. To this day, hemp seed and any fibre-based products will still come from the male plant. 

On the other hand, ‘Marijuana’ is a term given to the flower of the female cannabis plant.  This is what people make medical cannabis oil from – and can even use recreationally

Recently, new hemp laws in the U.S have brought ‘Hemp’ and ‘Marijuana’ closer by definition than ever…

This had led to people asking two big questions…

Can I get high from hemp?

The short answer to this question is: No!

If you smoke hemp it will not get you high. It has virtually zero-THC content, which means that if you smoke your hemp product, the most noticeable effect you’ll observe is a headache.  However, hemp can contain other cannabinoids (i.e, CBD).

How Is Hemp Different to Marijuana?

Until recently, most people saw the male plant as ‘hemp’, and the female plant as ‘Marijuana’.

Now, this has shifted…

When hemp became legal in the United States, the definition changed alongside the law.  As long as there was less than 1% THC in the cannabis being grown, it could be considered hemp.  This created a grey-area CBD industry that new hemp farmers have been able to jump into.

So, not only are U.S hemp farmers being given an opportunity to grow for fibre, seed, and oil. They’re also being allowed to grow the female plant too, and as long as there’s no THC… it’s still called ‘hemp’!  

To sum it up in a sentence…

As of 2019, ANY cannabis sativa with less than 0.1-0.3%THC is legal hemp…  


The differences between ‘Hemp’ and ‘Marijuana’ are narrowing day-by-day.  Perceptions are changing quickly, so I’ve got a little story of my own to illustrate these differences one last time.

“As a teenager, I always found myself having to explain the differences to my family and friends. It was always tough to explain, because at the end of the day, it’s the same plant… So I resorted to the classic explanation of “Actually, hemp is the male plant, and what people smoke is the female… they’re essentially brother and sister.”  Now I’m aware even that was factually incorrect.

When I took a trip to Colorado this year, I saw that hemp isn’t only male cannabis, but all low-thc cannabis in general. 

This really put things into perspective for me.”  – Me, 2019

The bottom line: ‘Hemp’ and ‘Marijuana’ are the same plant.

However, due to a slight difference that can be – naturally – turned up or down in the genetic profile of the plant, they were wrongly labelled as different. 

Are you guilty of thinking that they’re different plants, or have you been trying to explain the similarities to people for a while?

Share this with anyone else who should know, and together, we’ll all set the story straight!

male and female wearing white natural textiles

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