The Cannabis Plant: The Difference Between Hemp And Marijuana

Although hemp (Cannabis Sativa) and marijuana (Cannabis Indica) are two varieties of the cannabis plant, they’ve developed a hell of a rivalry within the industry. Marijuana advocates swear that hemp doesn’t yield the same quality medicinal product because it lacks major cannabinoids, such as THC. Even though hemp is rich in CBD, marijuana advocates argue it’s not the same because in order for CBD to reach its full therapeutic potential, it needs THC and other cannabinoids to create the same type of synergy; which is a simplified breakdown of a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.


Hemp advocates, however, swear by its power. Aside from the fact hemp has benefits for skin and hair, and can be used to make paper, cement, construction materials, bio fuel, clothing, plastic composites and more, those who endorse hemp say it does have equivalent therapeutic benefits via its CBD-rich leaves and stock.


They also say marijuana advocates smear hemps name for the purpose of gaining sales. Conversely, marijuana advocates say hemp-sales(wo)men sell snake oil to make a profit on sick people. Sadly, because it’s illegal to do legitimate scientific research on the plant, there are no solid facts on which variety is best for what. So what the hell’s the deal?


Here’s a deep dive in understanding the differences between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD:


Hemp CBD Oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid known largely for its muscle relaxing properties. Isolated on its own, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that’s been consistently reported to be an effective treatment for epilepsy and seizures.

CBD is found in both the psychoactive, THC-rich cannabis and the non-psychoactive hemp plant. Hemp CBD oil is derived from industrial hemp, which produces nearly no amount of THC—.03% to be exact. Industrialized hemp legalization is shaky. Day-by-day the legality of hemp changes. It’s gone from legal to a schedule-one substance in a matter of days. It’s now only legal for university research—and even that is a bit wonky.

Hemp CBD Oils Are Not Created Equal

Scientists and researchers often tip their hats to efficacy of CBD, as it can be a potent and powerful product with amazing therapeutic benefits. But the ways in which CBD is extracted from industrial hemp plants, then manufactured, concentrated, formulated, etc., and delivered and/or administered to a patient is largely suspect. This is the epicenter of the rivalry.


Customers have reported becoming violently ill from poorly manufactured hemp-CBD products, many of which either contain mysterious inactive chemicals or ingredients different than those listed on the label. Many of these poor quality hemp-CBD products have been traced back to China, according to a spokes person for Papa and Barkley, a prominent cannabis company in Southern California.

Medical Cannabis Producers Are Producing Top Quality CBD

You might’ve heard of strains like AC/DC, Harlequin, Cannatonic, Sour Tsunami, Ringo’s Gift, and many others that are high in CBD. Since 1996, there have been several medical marijuana markets in the western United States widely known for growing CBD strains. States like California, Washington and Oregon created an avenue for seasoned cannabis cultivators to farm cannabis medicines for their patients.

Growers in these markets have been producing both high-THC and high-CBD strains of marijuana and merging them into edibles, concentrates, and topicals of all forms to assist people with their therapeutic needs. These markets are now known for having stricter testing standards than what’s required for produce in the agriculture industry. Thus, these states often offer purer CBD products.

CBD Works Best Combined With Other Cannabinoids

Although scientists in America can’t study cannabis, researchers and doctors can study the plant in Israel, which has become the mecca of cannabis discovery and innovation. Cannabis contains hundreds of compounds, 80 of which we’ve identified as cannabinoids (once we’re free to study the plant in depth will we likely be able to determine more). CBD and THC are the two most popular cannabinoids in cannabis, as they’re usually available in the highest concentrations. And, as we stated earlier, they work synergistically.

Embracing the full-spectrum of cannabis’ naturally occurring phytonutrients is part of a process called whole plant medicine. This practice is highly regarded in the holistic and alternative medicine communities, existing in stark contrast to the practice of fractionated medicine, a process involving the heavy use processing and chemical synthesis popularized by the pharmaceutical industry.

While not suggested for children due to its euphoria-enducing properties, adding any amount of THC to a therapeutic dose of CBD largely enhances CBD’s effects, according to Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam. This is what he refers to as the aforementioned “entourage effect.”

Although there is no definitive answer, right now the best wisdom we have is that CBD is most effective with other cannabinoids—not as an isolated compound. In other words, CBD derived from marijuana is more powerful than the CBD from hemp. But that doesn’t mean we should write-off hemp altogether. We need hemp in order to create more sustainable, Earth-friendly alternatives to every day items, such as paper and gasoline—both of which cause severe damage to the environment. In sum—CBD aside—both hemp and marijuana are equally beneficial to humans and the planet.