What Is The Difference Between Hemp And Cannabis?

Hemp and cannabis are two totally different plants, right? Yes and no. Technically, hemp and cannabis are actually two different species of the same genus, Cannabis (family Cannabaceae). They’re not classified as two different plants in a biological sense. Although science doesn’t fully distinguish between hemp and cannabis, the law does.

Hemp Vs. Cannabis

According to US law, hemp is defined as cannabis that contains 0.3% THC or less by dry weight.

Let’s back up for a second. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a cannabinoid that can make you feel intoxicated—iin other words, it makes you feel high. The other cannabinoids in hemp and cannabis plants don’t seem to be intoxicating.

That being said, because hemp contains 0.3% THC or less, it can’t make you feel intoxicated. It really is a small amount of THC.

Cannabis, however, contains more than 0.3% THC. You’ll find that most cannabis strains contain anywhere between 15% and 30% THC.

To summarize, hemp can’t make you feel intoxicated, while cannabis can.

growing marijuana
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Why 0.3% THC?

As mentioned, biology doesn’t distinguish between hemp and cannabis. So who made up the 0.3% rule?

Ernest Small came up with the definition in his book “The Species Problem in Cannabis: Science and Semantics,” which came out in 1979. Small pointed out that it’s difficult to define the difference between hemp and cannabis. He suggested we draw the line for THC content at 0.3%, but he actually acknowledged that it was an arbitrary rule himself.

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However, the number went on to inform the legal definition of hemp in the United States. The Agricultural Act of 2018 (also called the “Farm Bill”) and other pieces of writing used Small’s definition of hemp.

The legal difference between hemp and cannabis

We mention the Agricultural Act of 2018 because it was a pretty important piece of legislation. Also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, this act went on to legalize hemp on a federal level.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, it became legal to cultivate and process hemp throughout the United States. The bill made it possible for companies to produce and sell hemp-based products, including hemp-based CBD products, hemp seed products, hemp milk, hemp textiles, hemp bioplastics, building materials, and more.

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Note: Cannabis that contains over 0.3% THC isn’t federally legal, although it is legal in some states.

So, although hemp and cannabis are two different species, there’s an important legal difference between the two.

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What about other cannabinoids?

Hemp and cannabis can both contain CBD and other cannabinoids. Some strains are bred to have more of one chemical, or “terpene profile,” than others. Some growers grow full-spectrum plants, or separately, they specifically cultivate for a target compound, such as high-CBD, high-CBG, or high-CBN strains.

But a cannabinoid product can only be sold legally in the United States if it comes from hemp. Our wellness products are hemp-based and thus fully legal, which is why we’re able to ship them all over the United States and even globally.