Hemp vs cannabis: Is there a difference?

Hemp and cannabis are both a part of the cannabis plant but they are very different. Hemp is different from cannabis in its application, function and cultivation.

Here we will go through hemp vs cannabis and the differences you need to know.

Hemp vs cannabis

Cannabis and hemp have been wrongly grouped together for many years with legal bans being put on both of them. However, there are many differences to hemp from cannabis that need to be learnt in order for people to reap the benefits of both plants.

Hemp is a type of cannabis sativa plant species. It is normally grown for industrial uses and is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Hemp is known to have thousands of possible applications including being used in clothes, skincare, make-up and even building material.

Cannabis, on the other hand, has fewer uses. It is also known as marijuana and weed, and delivers psychoactive traits when taken. The plant can be used for both recreational and medical uses. When being used for medicine, the use cases are endless. It has proven to treat chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and even symptoms from chemotherapy.

Both cannabis and hemp are widely used and popular plants but it is important to not get the two confused. One can cause substantial side effects, whereas the other will not.

THC levels and side effects

One of the largest differences and unknown properties of hemp and cannabis is the different levels of THC and CBD. Their chemical composition differs greatly - especially in the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the chemical found in both cannabis and hemp. It is what gives cannabis its psychoactive effect on the human body.

Even though they both contain THC, the levels are very different. Cannabis contains anywhere from 5-20% of THC content, with some strong strains of cannabis even containing more. However, hemp will only ever have a max THC level of 0.3%. This makes it essentially impossible to feel any psychoactive effect from hemp, meaning a user would not feel ‘high’. Hemp also has a very high level of CBD (cannabidiol). This acts against the THC making the small amount of THC useless.

These levels of THC and CBD are what makes the two plants have different side effects. When someone consumes cannabis, either by smoking or in the form of edibles or tinctures, they will get the sensation of being ‘high’. This feeling can last from 30 minutes to a few hours. The user will become relaxed and feel calm. However, not all users get the same side effects and some can often feel paranoid or disorientated.


The way cannabis and hemp are made are quite different and often only one is legal in most countries. Growing hemp takes minimal care and the plant adapts to grow in most climates, meaning it can be grown whenever and wherever. It is also grown closely together in large multi-acre plots. The growth cycle of hemp is anywhere from 108-120 days.

Unlike hemp, cannabis has to be grown in a specially controlled atmosphere. It needs to be in a warm and humid environment in order to grow fully. Each cannabis plant, especially medical cannabis is grown far away from each other, typically six feet away. Also if marijuana grows closely to or amongst a hemp plant field, the crop would be ruined. The hemp’s pollen would dilute the psychoactivity of the cannabis.


Hemp vs cannabis is a topic unknown to many but it is important to understand the differences before consuming either. Hemp is used for fabrics, industrial creations, clothes and skincare. Whereas cannabis is preserved for either medical or recreational uses because of its psychoactive side effects.

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