Cannabis legalization is happening everywhere. People are becoming familiar with terms like hemp vs marijuana vs CBD. But what’s the difference between the three?

cannabis brownies and cannabis leaves put on wooden cutting board

This article will review hemp vs marijuana vs CBD, so you know what you are getting.

Hemp vs Marijuana

Let’s start the hemp vs marijuana vs CBD debate by breaking down the differences between hemp and marijuana. Both are cannabis plants that belong to the cannabis sativa species. The difference lies in the effects.

Marijuana is rich in THC, the cannabis constituent that gets you high. Hemp contains less than .03% THC, not enough to get you high.

Hemp also grows differently than marijuana and has different uses than marijuana. But we’ll get to that later.

Hemp vs Marijuana vs CBD

Hemp and marijuana are different types of cannabis plants. THC is a psychoactive compound found in the marijuana plant. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that can be found in both plants. It is in parts of the plant with no more than .03% THC.

CBD has similar benefits to THC but also has varying effects.

Hemp vs Marijuana vs CBD Legality

CBD Concept. Marijuana leaves in the hands of men on natural backgrounds.

Legality is also an issue in the hemp vs marijuana vs CBD debate.

The 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to grow hemp or cannabis containing less than .03% THC. It also made hemp-derived CBD products federally legal.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is legal in most states. However, laws vary. Every state has limits concerning the amount of marijuana you can grow or possess.

Some allow marijuana for medical use only. Others allow it for medical and recreational use.

In some states, it’s still totally illegal.

Many current laws do not differentiate between THC and CBD and apply the same limitations.

Hemp vs Marijuana vs CBD Uses and Benefits

Hemp vs marijuana vs CBD also differ in terms of their uses. Here’s a breakdown of what each has to offer.


Hemp is a well-loved crop because of its purifying effects. It captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to clean the air. It also contains nutrients that help soil regenerate. It grows quickly and does not require as much water and pesticides as most plants.

The plant is also useful for a variety of practical and industrial needs. These include:


Unlike hemp, marijuana is not an environmental crop. It diverts water from watersheds. It also could contribute to soil erosion.

However, steps are being taken to make cannabis cultivation more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, it offers several health benefits including the following.


CBD can be derived from the hemp plant or the marijuana plant, so its environmental effects as a crop vary. It provides the following benefits.


Marijuana buds with marijuana joints and Cannabis oil

To sum up the hemp vs marijuana vs CBD dilemma:

Hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis plants. The marijuana plant has a high concentration of THC. Hemp plants have a THC concentration of .03% or lower.

CBD is a compound with low levels of THC (.03% or lower) that can be found in either plant.

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