What is the Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis?

Nov 19, 2019

The words cannabis and hemp are used within the CBD industry all the time to a point where they might seem like synonyms. If you’re a bit confused, read ahead to find out the difference between both plant variations. You’ll discover both produce CBD for safe, non-psychoactive consumption.

Hemp, by legal definition, is the non-psychoactive form of Cannabis Sativa L. Industrial hemp has less than .3% THC. Anything above this margin is considered cannabis (or marijuana, but the industry avoids this word for its negative connotation).

Cannabis and hemp are in the same species. Biologically, Cannabis is naturally female in reproduction while hemp is naturally male. They look very similar in appearance, except male hemp can grow much taller and female cannabis grows more buds and flowers.

Male hemp produces flowers too, but to a lesser degree, and with many more seeds. Since hemp is made of the strongest natural fiber in the world, every component of the plant is used in various ways. The stalk (building materials, paper, textiles), leaves (bedding, mulch), and seeds (oils, fuel, cosmetics) altogether account for use in over 25,000 products!

So where does CBD play into all of this?

As mentioned, CBD can be derived from hemp and cannabis. Cannabis can be bred to have less than .3% THC, which means it’s categorized legally as hemp even if it’s from the female cannabis plant.

Why would low-THC cannabis be good for CBD consumption? We’re glad you asked! Female cannabis naturally grows more trichomes (plant hairs where the cannabinoids are found). The more trichomes a plant has, the richer the effects for health benefits will be. When growing female plants for CBD or other cannabinoids, farmers want to make sure there are no male plants in the field because pollination of female plants produce low yielding, seedy buds, which are not ideal for smoking or extracting.

Naturally, male hemp produces more CBD than THC, while female cannabis produces more THC than CBD, however because male Hemp produces less trichomes all together, it requires much more plant material to extract the same amount of CBD than female cannabis does. Since most industrial hemp is grown for material use, the stalk durability is more valuable than the quality and amount of flowers.

For broad spectrum formulas, this difference matters. Female cannabis contains dozens of cannabinoids and each strain provides a higher percentage of each cannabinoid along with various terpene profiles.

Most plants grown in the US for CBD consumption come from female cannabis flowers with less than .3% THC. Our products use these plants too!

In fact, many users only use US-grown “hemp” (by legal definition) for CBD consumption because the quality is better than other countries where there are less regulations and potentially ineffective biomasses from low-grade industrial hemp.

CBD from industrial hemp is still CBD nonetheless, but there is typically less presence of total cannabinoids and terpenes, meaning the broad spectrum formula wouldn’t receive as much “bang for your buck.”

Hemp vs. Cannabis final review:

  • Hemp has a robust structure used in over 25,000 products
  • Hemp naturally produces more CBD than THC
  • Cannabis contains over .3% THC
  • But some cannabis plants are specifically bred with less than .3% THC, which categorizes them as hemp
  • Low THC cannabis is the better choice for full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD formulas

Cannabis is an intricate plant species with thousands of uses, whether it be the female plant for cannabinoids and terpenes, or the male plant for fibers, fuel, nutrition, and more. To learn more about Hemp and Cannabis, visit our blog. Have a question about Hemp or Cannabis? Ask us directly!

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"We encourage you to discuss CBD with your physician or healthcare practitioner if you have any specific health related questions or concerns. There are also many independent research studies about CBD available on the internet."

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease.