• Latrisha Bernard

Hemp and Marjiuana – What’s the Difference?

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

Due to the federal government classifying both hemp and marijuana in the same category of drugs, many people confuse these two things as being the same. There are many differences between the two plants in the way that they grow, their chemical makeup and their uses. Getting a better understanding of the difference between these two plants will open our minds up to a world of possibilities for their uses both medically and at home.










Hemp is high in CBD and low in THC so it is not designed to get you high, but it can still have significant health benefits for people with various disorders like seizures or others that can be controlled with CBD. It is still calming so many people have begun to smoke it recreationally since the federal government allowed hemp to have its Schedule 1 drug classification removed. Marijuana has CBD in it as well, so it also can positively contribute to patients of various disorders. However, it is high in THC and with the way that grow operations manipulate and enhance the plant, the levels can get pretty high these days. THC is a psychoactive chemical and that is what makes you feel high. Since hemp only maintains high levels of CBD, it will not have the same impact on your mental states that marijuana would have.


The chemical makeup of hemp and marijuana is not where these differences end. Marijuana is a plant that requires a lot of care and attention to grow. It will need to cultivated in a controlled environment, which is why grow operations have enclosed spaces for their plants rather than large farms in rural areas as you would have for normal crops. Hemp does not require that same level of control and it is a crop that can survive in many different climates. This means that hemp is a versatile plant and since it is so easy to grow, its benefits can be realized by a wider range of people. Marijuana’s need for close control means that it is more expensive and technical to cultivate and the number of people able to produce it is limited.



Not only do these plants grow differently and impact our bodies differently, but they also look different when they mature. Marijuana has a distinctive shape to its leaves and the buds are dense and covered in crystals, if you grow it the right way. Hemp has skinnier leaves and the buds and leaves are heavy at the top of the plant with very few branches growing below it. When the plants are grown, marijuana needs a lot of attention per plant, so they need to be spaced out in some way so that each plant can have that unique focus of the grower and the lights in the room. Hemp can grow on its own like a weed would, so these plants can be cultivated much closer together so that a larger number of plants can grow at the

same time. This is, again, why hemp can be grown out in a field in mass quantities and marijuana needs to be indoors in a well-ordered space.


The differences in use are also stark between hemp and marijuana, although both have been extensively researched for their medical benefits. Given the drug classification, it has taken time for sufficient research to be done on the medical benefits, but in recent years there has been overwhelming evidence that marijuana and hemp can be used to treat various disorders with seizures. Marijuana’s THC also has the effect of making people hungry which has been used by cancer patients who lose their appetite during chemotherapy treatments. Many patients have said that the marijuana is the only thing that helps them eat and actually keep their meals down without any nausea. The ability to eat during chemotherapy helps the body gain more strength to fight the disease so the benefit is holistic.


Hemp has been used in many nonmedical ways as well, and marijuana does not have this same type of reach. Hemp as a fiber has incredible strength and durability so it can be used to make clothes or bags or luggage that last much longer than cotton or other fibers that may be more common. Given how durable it is, it can be used to reduce the amount of plastic that we use as well. Hemp seeds have also been proven to be great for a healthy diet. It can add protein without red meat, the seeds have healthy fats and are also high in vitamin E and various minerals like zinc and iron. Hemp can also benefit us in oil form and be used to cook in a healthy way. The same oil can be used in lotions and soaps and other cleaning items without the need for as many harsh chemicals. Since hemp is so high in vitamin E, it will

have a much better effect on the skin of our hands when we use it to clean.


Not all plants are created equally, but they all have their own pluses and minuses. Given the

dependence on medications in today’s world and the amount of pollution in the world from plastic, we are in serious need of more plants that will have a healthier impact on our daily lives. In order for us to fully realize the potential of both hemp and marijuana, we have to understand what exactly they are. Once we lay that foundation then we can begin removing the stigma involved with both plants and get to building a greener and better functioning world with the help of both hemp and marijuana.

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