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Hemp Vs. Marijuana: What's the Difference?

At Curaleaf Hemp, one of the most frequently asked questions we get about our products is this: “Are your products made from medical marjijuana?”

In fact, we were asked this question so many times that we decided to answer it in the name of our company – Curaleaf Hemp. Hemp plants are what we use to create all of our natural, non-intoxicating CBD tinctures, topicals, softgel capsules and vape pens to help you enjoy a better quality of life. Now you may be asking yourself, “Aren’t hemp and marijuana the same thing?” You’re not alone in this misconception.

Hemp and marijuana are two different species of the Cannabis Sativa family.

Like any pair of siblings, they look a little bit alike but when it comes to their personalities, they couldn’t be more different. Unfortunately, like a younger child being labeled a troublemaker for the things his older brother or sister did, hemp has been unfairly associated with drugs that can get you high. This misclassification isn’t just in the court of public opinion. In 1937, hemp was banned as part of the Marijuana Tax Act.

So while hemp suffers from a bit of an identity problem, its industrial benefits have been known for centuries. Hemp seeds and the oils within them can be used to make everything from salad dressings to lubricants. The strong fibers within the stalk of the hemp plant can be used to make rope, clothing, paper, and even biofuel.  Finally, because of the presence of Cannabidiolic Acid, hemp can be used to make CBD products that offer a wide range of therapeutic benefits.

Visual differences between hemp plants and marijuana plants

Hemp (on the left) vs. marijuana (on the right)

As you can see, while there are some similarities between hemp and marijuana plants, these two siblings are quite different in appearance. Notice how marijuana plants tend have broad leaves and dense buds while hemp plants have longer leaves and taller buds. You don’t have to be a botanist to see that hemp plants and marijuana plants are not the same.

Physiological differences between hemp plants and marijuana plants

Of course, the most important difference between hemp and marijuana is the chemical compounds within them. The chart below illustrates how hemp and marijuana are opposite where it matters most – the presence of THC, the compound derived from Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid found in marijuana plants. Marijuana plants contain between 5%-35% THC whereas hemp plants contain less than .3% THC. Roughly translated, hemp is like a naturally decaffeinated coffee bean while marijuana is like an espresso bean.

The miniscule amount of THC along with the high concentration of CBD are the reasons why Curaleaf Hemp is exclusively engaged in the growing and processing of hemp plants. We hope this post has helped you better understand the differences between hemp plants and marijuana plants. More importantly, we hope you feel confident knowing that the CBD products you’ll find on our website are made with full spectrum CBD oil to ensure the best possible quality and help you live life well.

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