In This Article

Many people are confused about the relationship between marijuana and hemp. Both plants are types of cannabis but their cannabinoid profiles have one rather large difference which is the presence, or absence of, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In this article you can find out:

  • What is THC?
  • Typical amounts of THC in marijuana
  • Typical amounts of THC in hemp

Smoke Hemp Flower

As more and more people choose to smoke CBD, hemp flower and hemp pre-rolls are becoming increasingly available in stores and online. Smokable hemp flower continues to establish itself more firmly in the CBD market as the quickest and most effective way to get CBD into your system.

If you’re somewhat new to the industry, then you may be confused by the relationship between cannabis (marijuana) and hemp. We’re here to help you familiarize yourself with some of the lingo used in the industry, as you’re going to see a lot more of it.

It’s also worth noting that trying to tell the difference between marijuana and hemp flower, through sight alone, can be fairly challenging. But stick with us.

There are ways of doing it.

Read our ABC of CBD infographic here.

what is the difference between marijuana and hemp


Cannabis is the scientific name given to a genus of flowering plants within the cannabaceae family.

Cannabis plants all tend to look very similar and they all contain varying concentrations of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD; compounds that are highly celebrated by many in the medical community. Human beings have a rich and ancient history with cannabis.

In fact, over the last few millennia we have found many uses for the plant – spiritual, medicinal, and recreational – and we have cultivated it specifically for its fibers to make textiles, rope, and paper, among other things.

The Difference Between Hemp and Weed

Without a doubt, the single most important fact about the hemp plant is that it doesn’t get you high.

Unfortunately, for reasons that are best argued elsewhere, the federal government made cannabis illegal in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) by listing the entire genus of plants as schedule I drugs. All varieties of cannabis, including hemp, have been prohibited at a federal level ever since.

That is, however, in the case of hemp, until the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which helped to distinguish hemp, and its non-psychoactive qualities, from other cannabis family varieties, allowing it to be cultivated nationwide as a standard agricultural product.

Mixing hemp and marijuana can make for a very pleasant smoking experience. Read our CBD:THC mixing guide for more info.

But let’s begin by taking a deeper look at marijuana.

what is cannabis


If you hear people talking about marijuana then you can safely assume that they are talking about the type of cannabis that has the ability to get you high, whether the consumer chooses to ingest for religious purposes, medical reasons, or just for fun.

Cannabis contains over 100 different cannabinoid compounds, but there’s only one that provokes a significant mind-altering effect, and it’s often found in the greatest abundance in the varieties that we refer to as marijuana.

That cannabinoid is called THC, concentrations of which in the marijuana plant can register anywhere up to 30%.

It’s the reason why marijuana smokers often feel “high”, “spaced out”, or “stoned” when consuming.

Marijuana has dominated the cannabis-family limelight for decades and has been making waves in the medical community for some time now, but it remains illegal at Federal level due to its scheduling on the CSA.

Read about the revolution of high-CBD hemp flower here.

Ganja, weed, pot, Mary Jane, and skunk, are all sweet nicknames that refer to this same type of cannabis.

In fact, even the term cannabis itself is most often used to describe plant varieties containing notable levels of THC. Other terms that have been synonymous with marijuana in the past, include joints, spliffs, and doobies.

But all these terms are going to have to make room on the market for the new federally-legal kid in town.

Say hello to the beautiful CBD hemp flower.

what is marijuana

Hemp Flower

Hemp is one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops and has been used for its fibers in various industries for thousands of years. The seeds of the hemp plant are also pressed into one of the most well-balanced and nutritionally-rich oils known to man, and its flowers are an abundant source of CBD, which has become a hugely popular supplement in the health and wellness market over the last few years.

The Hemp Farming Act that was passed in defines hemp as cannabis that contains 0.3% or less of the THC compound.

See hemp flower legality by state here

Recognizing the incredible value of this harmless plant, that doesn’t have the ingredients to get you high, the Federal government made the decision to formally distinguish it from marijuana and to remove it from the controlled substances list.

Hemp can now be legally grown, processed, sold, and consumed across all 50 states in the U.S. as long as it remains compliant within the restricted THC levels at federal and state level (as each state differs slightly in what it does and doesn’t allow).

How to tell CBD flower from weed

So on the question how to identify a hemp plant from a cannabis plant?

To the untrained eye CBD flower and weed looks exactly the same. Beautiful green buds with some sparkling trichomes. And to a large degree they are exactly the same depending on their quality and how they were grown.

In general however, THC flower or cannabis will have more crystal formations and have a deeper and richer complexity than CBD flower. Since hemp flower is fairly new to the smokable market while cannabis has been around for ages it makes sense that most of the top growers, genetics and research dollars have gone towards making cannabis as potent and beautiful as possible while hemp is left to catch up.

When in doubt, look at the COA (certificate of analysis) to verify that the Delta-9 THC percentage is below .3%.

Popular Hemp Flower Strains

Some of the most popular hemp flower strains can trace their origins back to classic cannabis strains. Growers breed the THC out of the strain and are left with a high CBD version of the classic strain. Other times there are cross-breeds or brand new strains that make the most popular CBD strains.

At Green Unicorn Farms we specialize in legendary strains with curated quality to make sure that you are getting the best benefits out of your smokable hemp flower.

View our top 10 CBD flower strains here

The cannabinoids found in hemp flower (CBD for the most part, but many others too) are often extracted to make oils and tinctures, but as the market evolves, a greater range of premium, smokable CBD-rich hemp flower, like the kind we offer at Green Unicorn Farms, is making its way out into the open and into the consumers’ hands.

The quality of experience and the instantaneous effects brought on by CBD that can be smoked is gaining in popularity.

At Green Unicorn Farms we hunt down the cleanest, richest, and most aromatic CBD hemp flower available in the U.S. to provide an exceptional sensorial experience that knocks other smokable products out of the ballpark.

what is hemp

A New Dawn for Hemp

Hemp has always played an important role in U.S. society and economy, and the discovery of the cannabinoids residing within its flowers has made it more attractive than ever.

When treated with care and attention by experienced growers, hemp flower and marijuana flower can look, smell, and taste equally yummy, but don’t be fooled as their effects and legal status vary greatly.

The smokable hemp flower market has arrived and CBD hemp flower can now be enjoyed much in the same way as marijuana, but the beauty of hemp is that you get the smoothness of the smoke without the inconvenience of the high.

Quality hemp farmers and quality hemp flower are like green unicorns… they are particularly hard to find. But it’s this exact challenge that drives us onward.

We only hunt what’s worth hunting, and we only share what’s worth smoking.


About Hayley Smith

Hayley is passionate about all things cannabis and has been a strong advocate for CBD for over a decade. As a former marijuana farmer and smoker, she knows a thing or two about cannabis and is constantly on the lookout for new research from around the world regarding her favorite plants. Hayley is also the owner and operator of CBD Incubator.