Differences between hemp and cannabis

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If you are new to the world of CBD and cannabis, it can be quite confusing. Here we discuss the differences between cannabis plants and hemp plants. Let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions surrounding cannabis, hemp, and the problems surrounding the word marijuana and its negative implications.

At the moment for CBD products to be legal in Europe, they must be made with cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp plants. CBD derived from cannabis plants is still illegal in most of the EU as of 2020.

There is no doubt that the popularity of products with CBD in is on the rise. With an increasing number of countries now legalizing this cannabis compound widely know as CBD, but its full name is cannabidiol.

Hemp Plants

Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derive from the species Cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they are distinct strains with unique phytochemical compositions and uses.

Cannabis Plants

The plant is also known as hemp, although this term is often used to refer only to varieties of Cannabis cultivated for non-drug use. Cannabis has long been used for hemp fibre, hemp seeds and their oils, hemp leaves for use as vegetables and as juice, medicinal purposes, and as a recreational drug. Industrial hemp products are made from cannabis plants selected to produce an abundance of fiber.


Because industrial hemp and cannabis are used for different purposes, selective breeding has resulted in these two varieties differing in their appearance. The majority of THC and other healthful compounds found in cannabis plants are located in the cannabis flower, meaning the more flower, the better. This has led to marijuana plants being shorter and bushier than hemp plants. Industrial hemp plants were largely bred for their fiber, which is mainly found in the stalks of the plant. As a result, hemp plants are taller and skinnier than their cannabis counterparts.


The cannabis leaves have a peculiar and diagnostic venation pattern that enables persons poorly familiar with the plant to distinguish a cannabis leaf from unrelated species that have confusingly similar leaves. As is common in serrated leaves, each serration has a central vein extending to its tip. However, the serration vein originates from lower down the central vein of the leaflet, typically opposite to the position of, not the first notch down, but the next notch.


FALSE!  Another popular misconception is that hemp plants are medicinal and cannabis plants are recreational. The reason for this is mainly due to the rise in popularity of CBD products which are touted as a cure-all for everything from anxiety to epilepsy. Although CBD does have the potential to help treat a wide variety of symptoms and diseases, THC is also shown to have medicinal properties. In fact, due to something called the entourage effect, research is showing that full-spectrum extracts from cannabis plants, such as those used in CBD hemp oil, are in some cases preferable to those from hemp plants for certain conditions. Now strains of cannabis plants that are developed and grown to produce particular cannabinoid profiles to help treat specific conditions.

Although cannabis can be used recreationally, both hemp and cannabis plants have medicinal benefits. However, because hemp contains so little THC, it is not generally considered as being an effective way to get high.


  • In recent years breeding and selection have resulted in cultivars low in THC, and hemp is once again being considered by governments as a useful crop.
  • Hemp grows fast, is very adaptable to soil and climatic conditions, and is undemanding on resources such as artificial fertilizers and pesticides. It provides a good break crop for the farmer, giving the land a rest from other crops and helping to prevent disease.
  • One of the oldest relics of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
  • Hemp is six times as strong as cotton, much more resistant to weathering and wear, and more lustrous and absorbent. It is also much more environmentally friendly to grow.
  • Hemp growing became commonplace in Britain under the Romans and continued into the mid-1940s until it was banned by the lizard people. 
  • In the 16th century, King Henry VIII made hemp cultivation obligatory. He was interested in it for making rope, which was important back in the day, especially to ships which were the in thing back then.

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