CBD has become a buzzword in recent years as a variety of products have hit market shelves. You can find an array of tinctures, creams, capsules, and other products at just about any store in the US, including supermarkets, natural food stores, and bakeries. CBD stores have popped up all over the place. However, CBD products derived from the hemp plant have led to a bit of confusion.

One of the biggest reasons for the confusion is that only 33 states and Washington, DC have legalized cannabis for medicinal use. Of these states, 11 of them (as well as DC) have legalized it for recreational purposes. Aren’t cannabis and hemp the same? Not quite.


How They’re Grown

The hemp plant and cannabis plant are actually the same genus and species, Cannabis sativa. They’re grown very differently from one another, though.

Hemp plants are hardy. They’re grown in large outdoor fields close together, and they actually grow quite tall. Cannabis plants, on the other hand, must be cultivated carefully. Growers closely monitor the temperature and humidity of the environment as well as the nutrients in the soil to ensure optimal growing conditions. Plants are grown separately, spread several feet away from one another.

Their Cannabinoid Content

Both hemp and cannabis contain a variety of cannabinoids. The levels of these cannabinoids vary greatly. In hemp plants, the CBD content can range. The thing that stays consistent is that the THC content never goes above 0.3%. As such, hemp plants cannot get you high.

Cannabis plants have varying levels of CBD and THC. Some plants can have more than 30% THC. Others may have very little CBD, with some strains having less than 1%. With higher THC contents, cannabis products can get you high.

What They’re Used For

Hemp has a variety of uses. One of the most well-known these days is the production of hemp-derived CBD products. These products, which include tinctures, gummies, capsules, creams, and beauty care, help users relax and relieve pain without psychoactive effects. Other uses for the hemp plant include:

  • Fabric
  • Animal bedding
  • Cooking oil
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Dietary fiber

Cannabis has very limited uses. Users can smoke dried flowers or vape concentrates. They can take tinctures, consume edibles, or use infused creams. You can use cannabis recreationally to get high or for medicinal purposes such as relieving pain, alleviating anxiety, treating skin issues, and more.

Their Legal Status

Up until recently, both hemp and cannabis were illegal. Hemp became legal in 2018 with the passage of the Farm Bill. Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug and is still illegal on the federal level. Even so, states have their own laws regarding the plant. Many allow it for medicinal use only. Fewer allow it for recreational use. Some don’t allow it at all. If you want to use cannabis, either for medicinal or recreational purposes, you will need to be in a state where it’s allowed.

While the hemp plant and cannabis are the same genus and species and the terms are often used interchangeably, they’re very different from one another. Differences in cultivation give them different cannabinoid compositions as well as different uses. You may be able to find hemp-derived CBD products at just about any retailer, but you will need to visit a dispensary if you want to find cannabis-derived products to meet your needs.

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