What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

What are the differences between hemp and marijuana?

Modified on: 20/09/2022

Nowadays, the nouns ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana’ are used as synonyms: is this correct or do they indicate two different plants? Here are the clarifications

When talking about cannabis seeds, the cultivation of the plant or products derived from it, it is common to use the words ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana‘ indiscriminately.

When one of these words is mentioned, the typical fan-shaped leaf or the inflorescence of the plant immediately comes to mind.

But, in reality, is there a difference between hemp and marijuana or is it correct to use the two terms indiscriminately?

In fact, when we speak of ‘hemp’, we usually mean the plant free of psychotropic substances, whereas when we speak of ‘marijuana’, most often we refer to the plant rich in THC.

There are exceptions to this, however: let’s find out together.

Hemp plants

Are hemp and marijuana the same thing?

If, when reading articles on the subject of cannabis, you have come across different terms referring to the same plant, it is only natural that you should be curious whether there is a difference between one word and another.

Let’s start by clarifying that when we talk about cannabis, marijuana and hemp, we are referring to a plant belonging to the Cannabaceae family.

The distinction, therefore, is mostly lexical.

Mentioning hemp usually refers to the plant used for industrial purposes, which is free of psychotropic substances and often (but not always) male.

When reference is made to marijuana (a term coined long ago by the Mexicans), it usually refers to the plant used for recreational purposes, which has a high THC content.

For practical reasons, however, it has become increasingly common to use the two terms indiscriminately. It is no coincidence that you will also have heard talk of light marijuana, i.e., a THC-free genetic version of the plant, and hemp with psychotropic effects.

Read also: New bill: How it will revolutionize the cannabis market!

Marijuana, hemp and uses: here are the differences according to genetics

Today, we know that hemp has been cultivated all over the world for millennia (over 10,000 years ago) for many purposes.

Originally, there were mainly three varieties of the plant: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis.

Over time, the mix of the three different varieties and the constant experiments of growers gave rise to many hybrids — which is why today you can find auto-flowering seeds, fast seeds, feminized seeds, etc. on the market which are chosen by the growers according to their properties to produce different products.

Let us go into more detail.

Hemp seeds which do not contain psychotropic substances, depending on the genetics, are used in the industrial sector or are used to shape light hemp plantations from which legal inflorescences and other derivatives are obtained.

In the industrial sector, you will usually hear about industrial hemp, textile hemp, food hemp, etc.

Marijuana plants

In the recreational sector, however, you may hear more often about marijuana or cannabis, particularly in association with the terms ‘legal’ or ‘light’ and the abbreviation ‘CBD’ (this is cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic cannabinoid that is popular for various purposes); whereas you will hardly hear about ‘CBD and hemp’, or ‘hemp buds’.

Marijuana seeds, which give rise to plants rich in psychotropic substances (THC), can only be planted in a few countries of the world (in most — including the UK — it is not allowed).

In places where marijuana is grown, it is then used in the pharmaceutical sector or, where recreational use is permitted, it is sold to the public through marijuana shops.

In this case, you will mostly hear about marijuana or cannabis, more rarely hemp.

Read also: How to tell if marijuana seeds are any good?

To conclude

As we have seen, cannabis, marijuana and hemp are different names for the same plant, which, depending on its genetic characteristics, can have different properties and is used in different areas.

The distinction between the different terminologies originated in the USA around the 1930s, when the foundations for prohibition began to be laid, which is why, even today, the term ‘marijuana’ is mostly used to refer to the plant with ‘prohibited’ properties, while the word ‘hemp’ is more likely to evoke the plant’s use in the industrial sector.

We hope that you found this interesting and that it has resolved your concerns, we invite you to visit our shop specializing in the sale of cannabis seeds online.

In our SensorySeeds store, you will find many varieties of weed seeds to buy for collecting purposes (feminized seeds, auto flower seeds, fast growing weed seeds) — please note that growing hemp in the UK is not legal.

Come and visit us in our Sensoryseeds.com store. We are waiting for you!