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Cannabis and Hemp – Are they the Same Thing?

A frequently asked question in the cannabis industry is, are hemp and cannabis the same thing? The answer is no. Both come from the same species (plant family) but are quite different. We’ll take some time here to explain the differences between the two.

Growing Practices

Hemp and cannabis may be from the same plant family, but are grown very differently. Cannabis is far more finicky than hemp. Cannabis requires attention whereas hemp requires little to no attention during the growing process.

Hemp plants are mainly male, meaning that they rarely flower. The hemp plant’s intention is for industrial use, nutrition, and a source of CBD (cannabidiol). The plants grow very tall and take less time to grow to maturation than the cannabis plant.

Hemp and cannabis must be grown separately. Cannabis plants can actually pollenate the hemp plants, causing them to flower. Even a mile apart, cannabis plants can still pollenate hemp. A trained eye can differentiate the difference in a hemp plant and a cannabis plant quite easily.

Compound Differences

A big difference is the THC percentage between hemp and cannabis. Cannabis is known to have THC concentrations of up to 30-percent in dry flower, whereas hemp is not likely to have more than about 1.5-percent THC. Hemp is high in CBD.

Hemp definitely won’t get you high.


Cannabis is legal in more than 50-percent of U.S. states for either medical or recreational purposes. Several countries around the world, including Canada, have legalized cannabis for medical use. It remains illegal in much of the world and remains illegal by federal status in the U.S.

Hemp, on the other hand, is legal in more than 30 countries in the world. The U.S., however, has classified hemp in the same category as cannabis – a Schedule I drug, even though it cannot get you high.

The Farm Bill of 2014 brought on big changes for hemp in the U.S. President Obama signed The Farm Bill into law in 2014. This bill ascertains that there is a clear difference between hemp and cannabis. State departments of agriculture and higher learning facilities are permitted to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.

Industrial and Agricultural Uses of Hemp vs Cannabis Uses

Hemp has been an important crop for thousands of years around the world. It has various industrial uses such as hemp paper, hemp clothing, hemp fibers, hemp rope and dozens of other industrial applications. Hemp seeds are often used in health foods.

Hemp is commonly grown in:

  • China
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • United Kingdom
  • European Union members

Cannabis, however, is used for medicinal and recreational purposes. Once the flowers are harvested, leaves are sometimes used to make other usable cannabis products but the stalks and root bulbs are destroyed.

Closing Thoughts

Many people, especially those in older generations, still call cannabis hemp – not understanding that there is a clear difference. The science behind these two plants is quite confusing, so breaking it down into easy-to-understand language, like this, will help you distinguish between the two. In general, cannabis gets you high and hemp does not. Hemp is mainly used for industrial purposes.

If you have further questions about the differences between cannabis and hemp, please feel free to ask us here at Leafist and we’ll answer as quickly as we can.

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