What is the difference between Cannabis and Hemp?

In this article we address the question What is the Difference between Cannabis and Hemp?

Changes in legislation in just a few countries have sparked a massive interest in the cannabis industry. Even though still illegal in most countries around the world, global sales relating to cannabis based products are phenomenal. Focus and business interest will only continue to widen as more countries lift the prohibition in the future.

As a result, the terms cannabis; marijuana; hemp; weed and CBD are all familiar terms these days. However, how many truly understand how to classify these names or the relationship between them? Are they all the same thing? Is one sativa and the other indica? Does one get you high and the other not? Are male cannabis plants just hemp?

Distinguishing between cannabis and hemp need not be confusing at all. However the subject appears to have become one that is arcane and full of contradiction.

In order to end the confusion, we are about to define the terminology associated with the cannabis industry. We will demonstrate how each aspect relates to the other. Consequently, we will stamp out any common misconceptions you’ve gathered along the way.


Cannabaceae is the name for a plant family. This family contains over 170 species of plants that are distributed worldwide. They grow especially well in temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Members of the family have distinguishing features. For example they are either erect or climbing plants or herbaceous plants. The leaves are borne oppositely or in spirals and are palmately lobed or compound. The plants are commonly either male or female. The flowers are petal-less.


The biological classification ranking between family and species, consisting of structurally or phylogenetically related species.


Cannabis Plants


The term cannabis refers to a genus of flowering plant in the plant family, Cannabaceae.

The genus Cannabis comprises of the species, hemp (Cannabis sativa). The plant is a stout, aromatic, erect annual herb that originated in Central Asia and is now cultivated worldwide.

Cannabis is easily recognisable. The tall, cane variety is raised for the production of hemp fibre. Likewise, the female plants of a short, ‘branchier’ variety are renowned for the source of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the active ingredient of marijuana.

In addition to C. sativa, some scientists consider the genus as including a second species, C. indica, and even a third, C. ruderalis. This is due to the structural, unclassified differences that have been found in both wild and cultivated forms of Cannabis. These two species are treated as subspecies of C. sativa.

Each of these three strains have distinct growing patterns that farmers have been able to cross-breed over the years in order to create plants that have varying effects on the human body.

Separated by different strains, the cannabis plant is also divided into males and females. In comparison to the female, the male cannabis plant is synonymous with lower levels of several cannabinoids including THC. This is naturally occurring and not to be confused with hemp that is specifically bred to have low levels of THC.


Hemp, (cannabis sativa) belongs to the Cannabaceae family. It has been bred for centuries for its fibre (the soft, woody fibre used for textiles and cordage) and its edible seeds. This is what we refer to as industrial hemp. It is also now farmed for medicinal purposes. Hemp flower bred for its high CBD content looks far more like the budding cannabis that supplies marijuana.

All three products—hemp, marijuana, and hashish—contain THC. However, the variety of cannabis cultivated for hemp has only small amounts of THC relative to that grown for the production of marijuana or hashish.

Hemp is legally defined by the percentage of THC present in the plant.  In the EU the limit is under 0.2%, whilst the US and Canada it’s 0.3%.

The hemp plants tend to be grown close together in large, industrial plots. It has a growth cycle of around 108-120 days and requires little maintenance.


The term marijuana derived from Mexico. The word is a slang term for the recreational use of cannabis. During prohibition people created their own language in relation to the illegal use of cannabis. The terms have stuck and along with marijuana, kush; Mary Jane; grass; green; pot and weed are now commonplace slang terms for the same thing.

Marijuana and weed refers specifically to the chemical substance extracted from the cannabis leaves and flowers. Marijuana refers specifically to the plant genus, which comprises C. sativa C. indica and C. ruderalis.

Used to either alter mind or as a medication marijuana varies in potency. Its strength and effect depends on the variety. The method used to grow and store marijuana makes a big difference to the potency.

The active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is present in all parts of both the male and female plants at levels of between 5-35%. THC is most concentrated in the resin (cannabin) in the flowering tops of the female.

Cannabis grown with the intention of cultivation for marijuana require warm, carefully controlled environments. Each plant requires its own space and temperature maintenance. This plant genus is highly sensitive. The growth cycle of the cannabis used to produce marijuana tends to be around 45-90 days.


Cannabis plants



Derived from the resin secreted by the flowering tops of cultivated female plants of the genus Cannabis.

The active ingredient is THC, which constitutes 10 to 15 percent of hashish; marijuana has less. Most hashish comes from the Middle East, Nepal, and other Asian countries, as well as from Latin America. Likewise, the potency of hash is far greater than marijuana. People ingest it for the intoxicating effects it provides.

Hashish is a more powerful form of marijuana. Made by collecting and drying the resin; it is about eight times as strong.

With a better understanding of the plant structure and compounds, we can now begin to look at how CBD is linked and defined.
Moreover clear up the confusion related to the difference between hemp and cannabis derived CBD and also hemp oil.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is part of the plant genus C.sativa; derived from a distinct variety of hemp.

Cannabis bred specifically to produce high levels of CBD is hemp when the THC levels are below the legal limits (0.2% in the EU).

Commonly known as hemp flower, it can easily be mistaken for cannabis that has been cultivated for marijuana. Hemp grown with flowers rich in CBD appears shorter with many branches. There is a profusion of small leaves and heavy buds too. In contrast, industrial hemp tends to be taller with thick stems and skinny leaves.

Hemp flower is a non-psychoactive bud low in THC and high in CBD concentrates. Lower than 0.3% THC and up to 20% CBD in fact.

Those wanting to use CBD for medicinal purposes are looking for products using these strains. Oils, edibles and tropicals containing high concentrates of pure CBD and low levels of THC have not come from industrial hemp.

CBD extracted from Industrial Hemp

Some industrial hemp farmers have seized the opportunity to cash in on the CBD market. Using leftovers from hemp cultivated for textiles and cordage, they extract and market their own version of CBD oil. These products can be identified by much lower CBD concentrations and are lower quality than those bred for medicinal use.

CBD Vape oil

What’s the Difference Between CBD Oil and Hemp Oil?

Simply speaking, an oil that calls itself CBD oil has had the CBD extracted from the flower. Hemp oil is no more than pressed cannabis seeds and contains no CBD whatsoever.

That’s not to say hemp oil is not useful as a health supplement in its own right. Rich in the fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3, it helps fight both inflammation and compliments brain activity. In addition it is high in vitamin E which helps with skin care and anti-ageing.

The two are not always mutually exclusive however. The market now supplies a CBD infused hemp oil! As a result this combination packs in all the health benefits associated with both the flower and seed too.

Hopefully we’ve gone some way to explaining things comprehensively. It still remains remarkable just how many uses we have for the genus Cannabis. finally, whether you are smoking, vaping, eating, applying, inserting or wearing a product derived from this marvellous plant be sure to keep informed with us here at Kronicvapes.

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