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Hemp Vs. Marijuana

Joaquin Acosta, Pharm D, MBA - 21 / May / 2021

Hemp Vs. Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of the same plant, cannabis sativa.

Hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of the same plant, cannabis sativa. The only difference between hemp and marijuana is their Delta-9 THC phyto-cannabinoid concentration.

What is a phyto-cannabinoid you ask? Phyto-cannabinoids are "plant" molecules that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the human body and they can be found in both hemp and marijuana. The other popular phyto-cannabinoid to be addressed in this blog is cannabidiol, or CBD.

Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.)

  • Delta -9 THC concentration less than        
  • < 0.3% by dry weight
  • Legal after the 2018 Farm Bill
  • Agricultural Commodity

Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa L.)

  • Delta -9 THC concentration greater than   
  • > 0.3% by dry weight
  • Approved for medical use in 33 states
  • DEA Schedule 1 Controlled Substance

Marijuana plants are grown for their psychoactive medicinal properties, and have remained in illegal status registered as a schedule 1 controlled substance in the United States. Hemp plants became an agricultural commodity after the 2018 farm bill, which allowed for the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States.

Hemp plants have a higher concentration of cannabidiol (CBD), the cannabinoid that is not psychoactive, and lower concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which can produce psychoactive effects in humans.

Hemp also contains negligible amounts of THC but it does contain the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes that traditional marijuana plants have as well.

Both plants can be optimized for their medicinal properties with appropriate production practices to increase the respective cannabinoid.

Cannabis Sativa L. is the scientific name for hemp and marijuana. The only difference between these two varieties of cannabis sativa plants is their Delta-9 THC phyto-cannabinoid concentration, which determines whether the plant will be used as industrial hemp or medicinal marijuana. Hemp has a low level of this chemical compound, while marijuana contains an abundance of it. This means that both types can be used in different ways to benefit human health but they have very different applications depending on what you need them for! If you are interested in learning more about how cannabis interacts with your endocannabinoid system, read our blog post today.