Hemp vs. Marijuana: What's The Difference?

Cannabis has been a growing industry in all aspects, from the growth of recreational use to the massive increase in hemp and CBD products. With this, you're probably wondering what makes hemp safe to be in your local supermarket. Meanwhile, marijuana has a more questionable legal status, falling under the Controlled Substances Act of federal law and available only in select dispensaries.

Although both are derived from the cannabis sativa plant, hemp and marijuana couldn’t be further apart from each other, especially when it comes to their chemical composition.

Understanding Cannabis

Cannabis is a species of the plant under a group known as Cannabaceae. Cannabis has been grown for a variety of purposes over the last 10,000 years. Over this time, purpose-growing has created key differences between two primary types of cannabis or strains known as Sativa and Indica.

The cannabis plant species is known as being dioecious, which means it has male and female plants. This allows cannabis to be bred for specific purposes. If you find a male and female plant that each have traits you desire, breeding them could yield mixed effects, also known as hybrids. 


Cannabis Indica was originally grown in India. However, more modern growers focused on creating psychoactive effects, which are found due to high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Over the years of selective growing, the levels of THC content would continue to increase, and this plant would become the "marijuana plant" for both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana that had high THC levels.


Sativa can be found across Europe and was grown for its fibers, oils, food, and other unique traits. The fibers would be harvested from the stem and used for a wide range of items, the oils found in the seeds and leaves would produce countless benefits when consumed, and you could even smoke the non-intoxicating hemp flower as a tobacco alternative and receive health benefits that way, thanks to Sativa's high cannabidiol (CBD) levels.

Over time of selective breeding, this variety of cannabis continued to grow in size up to 14 feet tall. Since THC was not desired, this resource-focused breeding made for less and less THC until it was virtually no longer present. With a focus on health benefits, CBD levels would conversely increase as many people favor hemp oil rich in CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.  


Over time, people would begin wanting the health benefits, and large size found with the Sativa while still craving some psychoactive effects from Indica. As hybrids would begin emerging, a need to separate plants focused on fiber and food would be needed, and these low-THC and high-CBD plants became referred to as hemp.

Hemp refers to cannabis plants from the Sativa strain grown with less than 0.3% THC or less. 

Marijuana Uses

Marijuana, also referred to as cannabis, bud, weed, flower, and much more, is a form of the cannabis plant that is used for an altered mental or physical experience. With so many variations and strains, these side effects can greatly vary.  

It’s also important to separate the idea of medical marijuana and recreational use. While recreational users can strive and focus on a specific outcome, they are subject to use as much as they feel. Medical users are focused on receiving something that will help them cope with symptoms of health conditions, which remains a focus in the cannabis industry. 

Recent research has found that THC when used correctly, can help with a wide range of medical conditions. These include feelings of anxiety, depression, epilepsy, pain, and much more. CBD, on the other hand, has been found to help with muscle tension, joint discomfort, emotional wellness, and much more. 

The key to using marijuana in a medical sense is focused on using particular strains and how much is consumed. Some strains may be great for medical use, but when overused, they could cause unwanted psychedelic effects.

Some weeds, such as modern-day Sativa strains, are known to give you a boost of physical or mental energy, which is why they are recommended for depression or fatigue. Modern-day Indica, on the other hand, is known for making your body or mind relaxed, which allows it to be used for insomnia or ADHD.

Recreational and Medical Benefits Through Consumption 

While smoking weed has become a symbol of marijuana use, there are many ways for safer consumption. 

Smoking causes a majority of the THC or CBD to be destroyed by high heat. This means consumption is less than advertised and difficult to accurately measure. 

Vaping is also affected by this heat destruction, though at far less severity. Vape juices often come in a variety of flavors and potencies, making them a better option for medical use.

Edibles have also become a favorite for many users due to the wide range of flavors and precise THC/CBD levels. They can be found as gummies, baked goods, drinks, hard candies, supplements, and much more, with no remaining flavor from the plant, making them a good option for prescribed medication for picky patients.  

Hemp Uses

Hemp found its place in creating the much-needed items in our lives, which is an entirely different use for the cannabis plant. The idea of growing hemp is to have a large, hardy plant with the ability to use every piece -- the seeds, stems, leaves, and flowers. 

Wellness Benefits

Topical wellness products such as creams or oils are popular in hemp-based skincare thanks to CBD's nourishing and soothing effects. 

Tinctures have become a popular option for wellness benefits as well -- a small bottle of concentrated CBD oil can be dripped under the tongue, and the oil quickly absorbs and makes its way into the bloodstream. This is a relatively safe option for users of all ages and provides whole-body wellness benefits.  

It is important to note, though, that these products aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So there are common misconceptions that all hemp products contain CBD, while in fact, hemp seed oils have no CBD and thus don't provide the same wellness benefits as CBD oil. 

Hemp Flower as a Tobacco Alternative

Smoking has decreased in coming generations as smokers, and their families have begun understanding the health risks and overall negative effects found with tobacco product use. 

Oklahoma Smokes' hemp flower cigarette alternatives are nicotine-free, tobacco-free, and additive-free for this very purpose!

Hemp has become our ideal tobacco alternative, allowing our customers to move away from the chemical dependency of nicotine and the toxic effects of cigarette additives while also reaping the relaxation from CBD. 


While we don’t often think about the nutritional value of seeds, hemp seeds have been eaten, ground up, or pressed into an oil for thousands of years. 

A 30-gram serving (three-tablespoons) of hemp seeds has:

  • Calories: 166
  • Protein: 9.47 grams
  • Fat: 14.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Sugar: 0.45 grams

Hemp seeds also provide a good source of iron, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, B-vitamin, and zinc. 

These seeds can be eaten directly as a snack and usually ground to a powder. This powder can be used as a season or additive in nearly any dish.


The fibers found in the stem of the hemp plant date back 10,000 years. These fibers can be processed to meet nearly any need.

Hemp rope can be found in a variety of sizes, from thread similar to yarn to full-size ship ropes. These fibers are extremely durable, making them long-lasting. The small thread can then be woven into sacks and bags similar to burlap, great for shipping products.

Fabrics date back 9,000 years, and hemp is still used in textile production to this day. From shoes to dresses, hemp fibers can be used in different thicknesses to create softer or tougher products. 

Building Materials

Fibers are now being pressed together to make non-structural building materials. Non-structural refers to materials such as the walls or trimming in your home. The structure refers to the frame, floor, or foundation. 

Hemp building materials are dense, making them a great option for sound deadening and temperature insolation


One of the earliest manufacturing processes found with hemp was the creation of hemp paper. Hemp is grown fairly close together and is said to produce four times the paper per acre over trees. 

Even in ideal conditions, trees take up to 10 years to become large enough for harvest. Hemp, on the other hand, becomes harvest size in 8 to 10 weeks. This means you can harvest hemp 65 times more often than trees, so while they physically look smaller, the harvest is much larger. 


Hemp fibers are used in plastic molding known as bioplastics, which are able to decompose in a reduced amount of time. Plastic can take several hundred years to break down and decompose, where bioplastics can decompose in as little as a couple of months

Hemp or Marijuana?

While hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis plant, they couldn’t be further apart. While marijuana growers sought psychoactive effects, hemp cultivation has remained a diverse resource across all industries.  

To gain a deeper understanding of hemp, CBD, and other facts surrounding the cannabis plant, check out our education-packed blogs at Oklahoma Smokes  





FAQs on the Differences between Hemp and Marijuana

1. Is hemp considered a drug?

CBD, which is found in higher levels in hemp, is still considered a Schedule I drug but is more known for its medical benefits.

2. What does hemp contain that marijuana does not?

Hemp has higher levels of CBD over THC as compared to other strains of cannabis.

3. Does hemp have any side effects?

CBD from hemp is usually well-tolerated. However, its possible side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, diarrhea, and fatigue.