CANNABIS COUSINS: Hemp and Marijuana

In the world of cannabis, there are more names for one plant family than you could ever imagine.  Cannabis hemp and Cannabis marijuana are terms for plants in the Cannabaceae family. There are, however some major differences between, botanical and cultural.

Hemp is the cousin to the well-known marijuana. It is also potentially one of the most useful crops. Although people tend to put hemp and marijuana in the same category, they are different when it comes to the uses and appearance of these plants.

Typically, industries use the entire stock of the hemp plant including the seed, stem, and flowers to manufacture commercial products.  Both plants have many beneficial compounds of cannabinoids and terpenes.


The term “hemp” means cannabis that contains 0.3 percent or less THC content by dry weight.  Hemp does not get you high because of the low level of THC.  

Appearance: Hemp leaves are skinnier and are concentrated at the top with few on the lower part of the plant, and they can reach up to 20ft tall. Hemp is an extremely useful crop but is unfortunately linked with its cousin marijuana, thus surrounding it with controversy. But in near future, we all could be wearing, eating, or even driving hemp.


Usually, when people say “marijuana” they’re talking about cannabis that can get you high. We often use ‘marijuana’ synonymously with ‘weed’, and ‘ganja’ among a number of other terms.  Marijuana has a wide variety of plant strains with different attributes but overall it has a higher THC concentration. The marijuana flower, when activated by heat has intoxicating, euphoric and synergistic effects that get you high.

  Appearance: marijuana has broad leaves and grows in a short bush.


Today, ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana‘ are in use interchangeably which is a cause of confusion in the idustry.  Because the word cannabis technically refers to the entire genus of the flowering plant which includes both hemp and marijuana. It is not wholly accurate to exclude hemp when using the term.  The word “marijuana” has been used to distinguish between cannabis that is hemp and cannabis that isn’t based on the percentage of the THC each crop contains.

While this may seem arbitrary, it has become a clear enough standard that the industrialists are breeding new varieties of cannabis plants with this threshold in mind. This seems strange, but the THC content has become the standard for the legal cannabis and hemp CBD industries and is the criterion for the division of Cannabis plants, which contain many cannabinoids alongside many more chemical compounds.  Hence, the terms hemp and marijuana serve to distinguish between varieties of plants belonging to the same species that find themselves on very different sides of the law.


Public support for the legalization of hemp and marijuana is at an all-time high. From evidence-based research to a wide range of uses, people want access to the plants and products made from hemp. Clearly, it is good for the economy, the environment, and our health.