Hemp vs marijuana: The differences explained

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Hemp vs marijuana. If you aren’t immersed in the world of cannabis, you’ve likely used these words interchangeably. Years of stigma and a lack of clear information has led to the distinction between these plants unclear, and with the legalization of cannabis in Canada this past October, things still appear to be just as murky as ever.

Is hemp legal? Is it a drug? What is the difference between hemp vs marijuana? Can hemp get you high? These are all valid questions and ones we’re going help demystify to help you understand the clear distinction between hemp and marijuana.


First things first. Hemp, marijuana, and cannabis are not the same thing.

Let’s start with the basics. Cannabis is a family of plants, with two strains: indica and sativa. You can usually tell which cannabis plants are sativa strains by their taller stature, loose branches and long, narrow leaves, while indica strains wider leaves with dense branches.

While marijuana can be either an indica or sativa strain of cannabis, hemp only grows from the sativa strain. Side note, if you’ve ever heard your friends throw the term “in da couch” around, they’re referring to the relaxing, couch-locked state indica marijuana strains put you in. Sativas, on the other hand, give you a more energized, uplifted experience.


Cannabis Sativa

What’s the difference between hemp vs marijuana?

Diving deeper into the world of Cannabis Sativa, hemp and marijuana may seem similar, however, there are some crucial differences between these plants.

How they look

If you ever have the opportunity to walk through a cannabis farm, here’s what to look for to tell hemp and marijuana apart. While most of us are familiar with the typical shape marijuana plant leaves take, the plant itself grows fat and bushy. A hemp plant has skinnier leaves that are concentrated at the top, and the plant is typically taller and skinnier, growing up to 20 feet.

How they’re grown

Hemp is typically grown in large plots of land with crops only a few inches apart. Hemp can be grown in a variety of climates, with a growth cycle of about 120 days. On the other hand, marijuana grows best when planted a few feet apart from each other, and requires a controlled, warm, and humid climate. Marijuana has a growth cycle of about 90 days.

Their chemical composition

Perhaps the most important difference when comparing hemp vs marijuana is the chemical makeup of each plant, specifically their THC and CBD contents. As we’ve covered before, cannabis is made up of over a hundred cannabinoids, the most dominant being THC and CBD. THC is the stuff that gets you high—the higher the THC content, the closer to the clouds you get. CBD, on the other hand, does not get you high, but has a host of other health and therapeutic benefits to the mind and body.

Marijuana plants contain high amounts of THC, ranging from 5-20% or more, depending on the strain. Hemp, in contrast, contains very low amounts of THC—about 0.3%—not nearly enough to have the same psychoactive effects as Mary Jane, but has high amounts of CBD.

Because of these distinct differences, hemp can be grown for a variety of uses, ranging from industrial textiles, clothing, paper, beauty, biofuel, oils, building material, and more. With the fast growing popularity of CBD products, hemp is also now grown in order to extract CBD from its flowers to make full spectrum CBD oil and other CBD infused products, like ResolveCBD’s line of CBD gummies and capsules. Marijuana is primarily grown to do what it does best—get you high, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes.


Yes, products made of industrial hemp are legal in Canada. Hemp is also legal to grow, with a license. Because hemp is part of the cannabis family of plants, it’s easy to lump legalities in with marijuana, however, since 1998, authorized farmers can cultivate, harvest, and export industrial hemp, as long its THC content is 0.3% or less. Anyone growing hemp for commercial purposes must be licensed under the Industrial Help Regulations Program in Canada.


No. In fact, “your lungs will fail before your brain attains any high from smoking industrial hemp,” so please don’t try it.


So how did this seemingly innocent plant with a multitude of industrial and wellness uses get banned until only 11 years ago if it can’t even get you high?

Blame the suits in government for that one. When American president self-proclaimed War on Drugs came into effect with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lumped hemp in along with a list of banned drugs, leading to the end of hemp as well as an increased stigma against the plant, which still exists today.

In Canada, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) had a similar effect, until 1998 when the Industrial Hemp Regulations came into effect. Today, the Cannabis Act passed in October 2018 includes both Cannabis Regulations and Industrial Hemp Regulations, thanks to Good Guy Pierre Trudeau.


Although CBD oil is derived from hemp, it is not the same thing as hemp oil.

Hemp vs marijuana

What is CBD oil?

As mentioned earlier, hemp contains high amounts of CBD (cannabidiol), a cannabinoid that offers a host of health and wellness benefits to the mind and body. Some benefits of CBD include relieving pain, reducing anxiety or depression, helping you sleep better, improving mood disorders, improving gut health, alleviating cancer-related symptoms or side effects to cancer treatment, reducing acne, reducing high blood pressure, and lowering inflammation within the body.

Hemp-derived CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from hemp, and then diluting it with carrier oils to make it more palatable. Resolve CBD’s oil contains a blend of full-spectrum CBD, MCT oil (which is keto-friendly), and peppermint oil—all organic, of course. Full-spectrum CBD contains all cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, which all work together to increase the benefits of CBD. Our full-spectrum, hemp-derived CBD oil contains trace amounts of THC —0.3%—to be exact, which is not enough to get you high.

While marijuana-derived CBD oil does exist, this oil contains higher amounts of THC—5-20%—and will deliver the psychoactive effects of THC. ResolveCBD does not carry marijuana-derived CBD oil.

You can consume CBD oil by dissolving it under your tongue or applying it to your skin topically. You can even add it to coffee or food! Other popular forms include: oral capsules and edible gummy candies.

What is hemp oil?

Hemp oil is sourced from industrial hemp seeds, and is also known as hemp seed oil. Since cannabinoids do not exist in the hemp plant seeds, hemp oil does not contain any THC or CBD. Hemp oil is regulated and tested to ensure no cannabinoids are present in the oil.

Like CBD oil, benefits of hemp oil to the brain and body are extensive when taken regularly. Although hemp oil contains no cannabinoids, it does contain high amounts of omega-3 and , omega-6 fatty acids as well as linoleic acids, which stimulate our bodies’ natural production of cannabinoids. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids help repair brain cells damaged from stress and processed foods. Some other benefits of hemp oil include beauty benefits like  replenishing moisture and natural oils to hair and skin, replenishing kidneys of fatty acids so they can work to their optimal potential, and helping with the development on microorganisms to help fight off sicknesses quickly.

As you can see, hemp and marijuana are vastly different plants, both in their chemical makeup as well as their uses. We hope we’ve helped demystify the differences between these plants, and given you the information you need to help spread the word.

DISCLAIMER: Information and products presented by resolveCBD are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment, nor is it intended to be a substitute or alternative for professional medical advice. Always consult with a licensed professional regarding medical treatment or possible interactions with prescribed drugs. Products are intended to be used as directed, by individuals who are 19 years of age or older.