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Hemp vs Cannabis: What’s the Difference?

Hemp vs Cannabis: What’s the Difference?

Cannabis and hemp are similar in almost every way. They both come from the Cannabaceae family. They both contain THC, CBD, terpenes and a host of other cannabinoids. But with hemp being federally legal and cannabis still labeled a Schedule One drug, in the same category as heroin, it begs the question: What’s the difference that justifies such a vastly different legal status? 


The answer is a paradox. Essentially, the only difference between hemp and cannabis is just that – legal status. 


The feds justify this by placing an arbitrary limit on how much THC can be allowed in a legal hemp plant, arguing that .03% of THC is too little to be psychoactive. So, a hemp plant that has .04% of THC or more? The law calls that cannabis. And the difference really does come down to just that – THC content.


While cannabis tends toward THC as its predominant cannabinoid, scientifically, there is no difference between the two plants. The only real distinction may lie in what the end product is used for. Hemp typically is grown for industrial purposes, with its fiber used for manufacturing rope, plastic and nutritional products. Cannabis, with its rich cannabinoid content, is often directed toward therapeutic or recreational use. Even the high THC levels that apparently distinguish the two are often a result of selective breeding. Cannabis plants with staggering THC levels are merely the outcome of breeding projects by heroic growers dating back to the ‘70s


Hemp vs Cannabis - a hemp plant silouhette

So, if there’s really no difference, can you smoke hemp? Um, suuure? You won’t get high from hemp – there’s nothing psychoactive enough to give you a giggle fit or the wave of euphoria cannabis is famous for. But that doesn’t mean there is no benefit to smoking hemp. In fact, inhaling CBD is more efficient than eating edibles or using tinctures as it goes straight to the bloodstream. 


ut you’re not likely to find hemp in a cannabis dispensary because there’s really nothing recreational about it. It may look similar, but the effects will be noticeably different – it isn’t going to taste great, it isn’t going to elevate your mood, and it isn’t going to be what one would traditionally call “fun.” Do hemp dispensaries exist? Yes, but only in states that don’t yet have a legal cannabis market. For anyone seeking a recreational experience, there is no comparing cannabis to hemp.


Cannabis brings laughter, calm, euphoria. It gets the party started and makes everything feel (and taste) amazing. Consuming cannabis on its own is itself a party if you’re sparking up the right strain. Smoked hemp is like window dressing – it is “look, but don’t touch.” Cannabis, on the other hand, is the touch. 


And thanks to the decades of breeding that intrepid growers have engaged in throughout Northern California and Holland, there exists a dizzying variety of cannabis strains with a plethora of unique effects to bring you precisely the experience you’re looking for.


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