Cannabis, Marijuana & Hemp - what’s the difference? 

It often seems like cannabis, marijuana and hemp are used interchangeably on products, which is particularly confusing in the UK when, as we all know, marijuana or weed is illegal. Yet we still find things labelled marijuana e liquid or a cannabis vape pen. How can this be so? In this post, we thought we’d try to demystify the difference between cannabis, marijuana and hemp - what makes them the same and what makes them so different. 


The plant Cannabis sativa has two primary species, hemp and marijuana. The major difference between these two species are their cannabinoid profiles and content which is determined by their genetics (or strain). Specifically with regard to the THC to CBD ratio. As we have discussed before here, THC and CBD are the major cannabinoids found in cannabis. 


A cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% THC is classified as a hemp plant. Hemp plants are therefore CBD-dominant with little to very low levels of THC. In the UK, all cannabis products must be derived from hemp and must contain less than 0.2% THC in order to be legally sold.  


A cannabis sativa plant that contains more than 0.3% THC (even 0.4%) is a marijuana plant. Marijuana plants can vary significantly in their cannabinoid profile depending on how they have been farmed / harvested specifically by the grower. For example, you can farm CBD dominant or THC dominant strains depending on what you want to make. However, more often than not, marijuana is a THC dominant plant and today's plants are packed with more THC than ever before, but they can only contain so much. This is because both THC and CBD are derived from the same gene, meaning there are strict limits on the possible ratios there could be. 

For THC, that limit is around 35% THC by dry weight, with most high-potency strains coming in at 25–30%. The upper limit for CBD, by comparison, is around 20–25%. With strains containing significant amounts of both cannabinoids, the limits are more nuanced. For example, a strain that's 30% THC and 10% CBD is improbable and vice versa. 

THC vs. CBD 

CBD and THC interact with our bodies very differently, specifically our endocannabinoid system (see this post for more on this), in slightly different ways. They both interact with our CB1 receptors (the receptors linked to our central nervous systems), however THC binds with these receptors and activates them leading to the feelings most closely associated with being high such as euphoria. CBD, on the other hand, has the opposite effect on these receptors - rather than binding with them, it blocks the psychoactive effects or those “high” feelings. As such, it might actually be that CBD (in some cases and depending on the ratio CBD to THC) reduces or blocks the high that is derived from the THC and that many people are scared of! So THC-rich cannabis products containing CBD may make you feel less high and rather enhance the more non-psychoactive soothing benefits. It is because of this that many people prefer strains containing both THC and CBD as whilst they range in psychoactivity, their effects tend to be more balanced.

CBD from hemp rather than marijuana

Some people believe that CBD products that are farmed from marijuana plants are more effective than those that are farmed from hemp. This, however, is not entirely true. It all depends on the quality of the hemp. There are many CBD brands that are not derived from quality hemp and may also be made from CBD isolate. This combination will not be good and unlikely to yield the desired results which is a huge risk to the industry especially if people who have never tried it before have a bad experience from bad hemp and ineffectual CBD. 

CBD derived from good hemp and that is broad spectrum CBD (we discuss what we mean by this in this post) will be as good and as effective as CBD derived from marijuana. Of course, there will be a difference if you are having a CBD product in the US, where higher levels of THC are allowed and therefore the ratio THC to CBD may be higher as you will definitely feel a different effect. 

Our CBD is derived from the highest quality hemp and is broad spectrum so we’d be surprised if you do not get the desired effect from taking our CBD. Please let us know if you don’t we are here to help and truly believe our CBD is one of the best of the bunch!

Broad Spectrum CBD oil drops for anxiety, stress and sleep