What's the Difference Between Hemp and Weed?
POSTED BY DR. DAN KUSH ON MARCH 16, 2021
There’s an old expression that goes:
“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.”
It looks like weed. It smells like weed. You grind it, you roll it, you pack it, you smoke it. Like weed. So, it must be weed. Right?
No. Well, not really.
What’s the Difference Hemp, Cannabis, and Marijuana?
All of these three words are used to talk about a plant that grows out of the ground. You know, the one with the funny leaves? And the word you use to talk about this plant depends on whether or not you’re a scientist, or a lawyer.
Talking about it like you’re a scientist is a lot more complicated, so let’s pretend you’re a lawyer.
“Marijuana” is a very outdated term for cannabis that’s considered federally illegal. What dictates the legality of cannabis is its levels of THC— a schedule 1 controlled substance. Hemp that’s considered federally legal does not contain THC. At least, it doesn’t contain the 0.3% legal threshold of THC. They’re both, in the eyes of the law, cannabis. What makes cannabis illegal isn’t the plant itself, it’s the one cannabinoid inside the plant— the THC.
Okay, now, pretend you're a scientist. Scalpel!
There are actually many, many types of THC. We don’t even know what most of them are yet, or what they do. The one that the lawyers care about is THC Delta 9. That’s the one you’re referring to when you say “THC” in the classic context. It’s the one that gets you high, and it’s the reason marijuana has the reputation that it does.
“Marijuana” is not actually a classification of any sort of plant. It’s more of a legal classification, referring to cannabis that contains THC, making it federally prohibited. Both are a part of the same cannabis genus, meaning they are technically both cannabis.
Can You Smoke Hemp?
Yes! I am doing it right now.
Smoking hemp flower is just like smoking any other type of cannabis, just with one huge, HUGE difference: you don’t get high. That’s why I can do it at work.
What you DO get is all the same potential medicinal benefits the entourage effect of cannabinoids present in hemp can provide. For a full in-depth rundown of some of the key cannabinoids other than THC and CBD, check out our guide to Other Cannabinoids and What They Do.
This includes things cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBC, and a lot of other letters. These cannabinoids work in tandem with each other to act on your endocannabinoid system. Some of them have been highlighted as particularly effective for different things, but the idea is to have them all work together in concert with one another.
Think of a cannabinoid like CBD as a trumpet. Playing a trumpet by itself is fun, but it’s nothing compared to a jazz ensemble. Now you’ve got music. (Apologies if you’re a trumpet soloist.)
Hemp flower (also called “CBD flower”), though it appears to be visually indistinguishable from marijuana, is an entirely different ensemble. It might be using the same instruments, but it’s playing Beethoven instead of a Led Zeppelin cover.
THC could be thought of as an electric guitar— okay, you know what, you get the music thing.
Point is, long as your flower has under 0.3% THC (Delta 9, to be precise), you are ready to rock. This trace amount is not nearly enough to feel any discernible psychoactive effect.
The reason hemp flower is often called CBD flower is because, as you might have already guessed, it is extremely high in CBD.
Why Should I Smoke Hemp?
Smoking hemp flower has a huge range of advantages for anyone and everyone, extending well outside the normal circle of cannabis consumers.
Many people who have tried CBD products in the past and been disappointed report achieving more of the intended effect when using dry herb as a delivery method, as it’s extremely potent and acts almost instantaneously.
This makes it easy to control your dosage and perfect if you need results quickly.
Hemp flower is also great for people who are looking for an alternative to tobacco or cigarettes. You can even buy hemp pre-rolled cigarettes, which can give you the exact same experience of smoking, without the harmful chemicals you might be trying to quit.
Other users report enjoying CBD flower because they want to enjoy the medicinal benefits of cannabis, but cannabis is illegal wherever they live, or they simply want to avoid the psychoactive components. Even if you find cannabis too overwhelming in a casual setting, CBD flower could be a ratio of cannabinoids that better agrees with you physiologically.
Shopping online for hemp flower with a compliant retailer ensures each product listed on the site containing hemp derived CBD oil meets vigorous quality assurance standards. All CBD consumables are third party lab tested and documented results are readily publicly available before you purchase, with strict guidelines to ensure results are current, comprehensive, and FDA standard.