Hemp vs. Marijuana - The Differences You Need to Know

Hemp vs. Marijuana - The Differences You Need to Know

what is the difference apples and oranges

Have you ever asked, "What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?"

In this blog post, we'll break down everything you need to know about hemp vs. marijuana along with new developments.

So if you're looking to learn about:

You've come to the right place.

Let's begin.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a member of a family of flowering plants called the "Cannabacae family."

You may already be familiar with another member of this family called "Humulus lupulus" or just simply, the hop plant.

And yes. We're talking about the same hops used in beer. It's no coincidence that they smell pretty similar, and their seeds almost look the same.

Cannabis and Humulus lupulus diverged around 28 million years ago. It may have originated in the Tibetan Plateau in Central Asia. With the moniker "The Roof of the World" and an average elevation of 13,123 feet above sea level, it's...the...highest place on Earth.

people laughing at joke

To this day, you can find wild cannabis growing from China to Pakistan. It can also be found in the Himalayas.

You may have heard of the following terms:

There is no consensus whether these are different species or just one species.

What is for sure is that marijuana and hemp are the same species.

An easier way to think of this is the plant, "Brassica oleracea."

“Wait, what?”

That name may sound unfamiliar, but we're pretty sure you are familiar with:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens

They're all one species.

Hemp and marijuana have distinct legal definitions, history, and uses, which we will cover next.

What is Hemp?

In the United States, hemp is simply cannabis that has a 0.3% content or less of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is usually just referred to as "THC," especially when we talk about marijuana. It's not the only type of THC that can be found in cannabis, but we'll get onto that later.

The terms "hemp" and "industrial hemp" are interchangeable.

Humans have been growing hemp for a long time.

How long?

It's estimated that agriculture began around 12,000 years ago.

According to “Vegetation History and Archaeobotany” cannabis achenes (the one seeded fruit we usually just described as a “cannabis seed”) dated at around 10,000 years ago have been found on an archeological site on the Oki Islands of Japan.

The history of hemp and its uses is one that crosses centuries and continents. It would take hours to list every civilization that cultivated hemp and explained how they used it.

Generally speaking, it started in Asia and then made its way around the world with applications which included bow strings, ingredients in food, textiles, and beyond.

Hemp is a versatile plant with many applications and extracts. Here are just a few of them:

  • Rope
  • Textiles
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Paper
  • Bioplastics
  • Insulation
  • Biofuel
  • Livestock feed
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Delta-8 THC

Canvas, which has stood the test of time since it's durable and waterproof, was initially made from hemp. The word "canvas" is actually derived from the Latin word "cannabis."

So, in general, hemp is cannabis that has been used for industrial purposes


In the United States, it's simply cannabis with a 0.3% or less content of Delta-9 THC.

What is Marijuana?

marijuana on prescription pad

In the United States, marijuana is defined as cannabis with a Delta-9 THC content higher than 0.3%.

It's the official term used by the U.S. government to differentiate this type of cannabis from hemp.

Over the years, marijuana has picked up a lot of names:

  • Weed
  • Herb
  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Bud
  • Ganja
  • Mary Jane

Like hemp, marijuana has a long history of usage that spans centuries and continents.

According to a research article on Science Advances, the earliest scientifically verified instance of smoking marijuana dates back to around 2,500 years ago in Western China. It was used as part of a funeral ceremony. The marijuana plants at that time had high amounts of psychoactive compounds.

History Collection states that Napoleon's soldiers had a fondness for marijuana during the Egyptian campaign. During the invasion, his soldiers couldn't find alcohol. Islam has been the primary religion of Egypt for centuries, and The Quaran forbids alcohol.

What was plentiful in the region was hashish. Bonaparte's soldiers enjoyed it so much that it became a concern to officers. As a solution to this "problem," Napoleon commissioned the production of wine and spirits made from dates...which the troops found to pair nicely with hash.

Hemp Legality in the United States

USA flag with hemp on it

Hemp has a long history in the United States.

In “Hemp: American History Revisited: The Plant with a Divided History” by Robert Deitch, every property owner in Jamestown was required to grow 100 hemp plants.

According to ABC News, the first american flag, the one made by Betsy Ross, was made from hemp.

Hemp Prohibition

Hemp didn't come "under attack" by Congress until the 1937 Marihuana Act (yes, that’s how they spelled it), which placed excessive taxes on all cannabis sales, including hemp.

These taxes were lifted during World War II to boost the production of rope for the U.S. navy. The federal government even made a film called "Hemp for Victory" to promote the plant.

Then, in 1970, hemp was outlawed as a Schedule I drug, with strict restrictions on its cultivation.

Legalization of Hemp in the United States

Hemp didn't start its American comeback until the 1990's when the U.S. started importing hemp seed and oil. Then, in 2004, the Ninth Circuit Court ruling in Hemp Industries Association vs. DEA favored protecting hemp-based foods and body care products.

Three years after this ruling, two farmers in North Dakota were granted the first hemp licenses in fifty years.

Then, the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills paved the way for further hemp legalization. The 2014 bill, signed by President Obama allowed for institutions of higher education and state agriculture departments to grow hemp under a pilot program.

The 2018 Farm Bill, signed by President Trump removed the hemp plant, its seeds, and its derivatives from the Controlled Substances Act.

This, in turn, legalized hemp-derived CBD and Delta-8 THC on a federal level.

As of now hemp and hemp-derived Delta-8 THC remains legal federally and in 37 states.

Marijuana Legality in the United States

marijuana with wooden gavel

By the late 19th Century, marijuana was a popular ingredient in many medicinal products and pharmacies.

Stigmatization of marijuana, and cannabis in general, came after the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

During this period the United States saw an influx of war refugees, political exiles, and immigrants from Mexico who wanted to escape the violence.

Historically, whenever there has been an influx of immigrants coming into the United States, they bring in a lot of contributions to American society and culture. Recreational marijuana was just one of the contributions made by this influx.

Unfortunately, such waves of immigration have always been met with prejudice. Marijuana use became paired with prejudices against these immigrants along with other racial minorities. This, in turn, led to states making marijuana illegal. By 1931, 29 states banned marijuana.

Then, a few years later came the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 signed by President Roosevelt. It was the first time that federal criminal penalties were applied to not just marijuana, but all cannabis.

Laws on marijuana only became stricter from there on out. In the 1950s, the U.S. federal government established mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses.

Controlled Substances Act & The War on Drugs

In 1970, the mandatory sentences were repealed, but Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, which outlawed cannabis for any use.

Then, in 1972, Congress created the "National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse" led by Governor Raymond P. Shafer. This was also known as the Shafer Commission. The focus of this commission was to review the effects of marijuana.

The final report of this commission recommended that marijuana should be decriminalized. This notion was rejected by President Nixon.

Restrictions on marijuana grew even tighter in the 1980s when mandatory drug sentences were re-enacted by President Ronald Regan.

Legalization of Marijuana in the United States

Marijuana legalization in the United States began in California in 1996. The Golden State passed Proposition 215, which allowed for the sale and use of medicinal marijuana for patients with cancer, AIDS, and other severe diseases. Other states began to follow suit.

In 2012, Washington and Oregon became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Much like the legalization of medical marijuana, other states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.

As of now medical marijuana is legal in 36 states, and recreational marijuana is legal in 17 states.

In recent years, members of both the House and Senate have brought up the notion of legalizing marijuana on a federal level.

A 2021 poll held by The Economist/YouGov found that 61% of Americans think that marijuana should be made legal in the United States.

What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

hemp vs marijuana

To put it simply, hemp is cannabis that contains 0.3% Delta-9 THC, and marijuana contains more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.

That's it.

So now you know:

    • Hemp and marijuana are the same species
    • Historically, hemp has been used for industrial purposes
  • Marijuana has been used throughout history for recreational and medicinal purposes
  • Hemp has been legalized on a federal level, but Delta-8 and CBD are illegal in a few states
  • Marijuana remains illegal on a federal level but is legal in several states

Delta-8 THC Legality and Purchasing Online

The 2018 Farm Bill was one of the most significant pieces of legislation in United States cannabis history.

It legalized hemp and hemp cannabinoids on a federal level.

In this blog post, we talked a lot about Delta-9 THC, but do you know about Delta-8?

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol is a form of THC which has gained prominence in recent years.

It's also written as:

  • Delta-8 THC
  • D8
  • ∆-8-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • ∆8

Several enthusiasts have described Delta-8 as:

  • Relaxing
  • Creating a mild euphoria
  • Promoting a sense of wellbeing
  • Bringing on feelings of contentedness

Buy Delta-8 THC Online

Because Delta-8 THC is legal on a federal level, it can be shipped across state lines to customers who live in states where D8 is legal.

Hometown Hero is a registered hemp vendor with the United States Postal Service. Our packages are whitelisted, which means there will be no legal hassle having D8 being delivered to your door.

If you want D8 products delivered to your door (and help out veterans), Hometown Hero has a wide range of products that includes:


Now in this blog post, we've covered a lot.

There are entire books on the subjects of the history and legality of hemp and marijuana.

However, if there's anything you'd like to know about Delta-8 THC, we'd be more than happy to help!

"Is Delta-8 THC legal in my state?"

"How does Hometown Hero extract Delta-8 from hemp?"

We have hemp experts waiting to answer your questions. So comment below or reach out to us via:

We're always ready.

Best Selling Delta-8 Products

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