What's the Difference between Hemp and Marijuana? - KC Hemp Co.®

What's the Difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

Hemp Vs. Marijuana: What’s the difference?


When you look at a picture of hemp and marijuana it really is almost impossible to tell the difference. What really *is* the difference between a hemp plant and a marijuana plant?  Here’s what you need to know.


A short answer: One is federally legal and one isn’t and it all comes down to a an ambiguous number.

 The definition of each plant was created using an ambiguous number chosen to determine if a cannabis plant has more than 0.3% Delta 9 THC it is considered marijuana. (THC is the cannabinoid found within the cannabis plant that is responsible for getting you high.) Marijuana is currently considered federally illegal in the United States. A cannabis plant with less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC is classified as hemp which, thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill by Congress, is now federally legal. This includes all derivatives of hemp, such as the CBD in the products we manufacture at KC Hemp Co. The passing of this 2018 Farm Bill has allowed one of America’s greatest crops to once again flourish out in the open fields of our famers. 

Which brings us to the long answer.



What is Hemp?


Hemp and Marijuana are no different than any other plant variation you may grow in your own garden, such as tomatoes, peppers, or onions. Structurally they look the same but the fruits (or flowers) may look, and taste a little different. However, the cannabis family’s wide range of uses is unmatched by any other plant. From oils and ointments, to textiles and building materials. With over 10,000+ uses, hemp is hands down the most versatile plant known to man. 

A Brief History of Hemp Usage

Did you know the original American flag woven by Betsy Ross was made from Hemp? So, too, were the ropes and clothing made by the pilgrims that landed on Plymouth Rock back in 1620. Those same pilgrims also used hemp to make their sails and ropes that navigated them across the Atlantic Ocean. This variation of cannabis, known as industrial hemp, has been around for centuries as a versatile and strong textile used in thousands of different applications. It can build and insulate houses, pave roads, and structure entire cars from the frame to the fabrics and even the fuel it drives on! 

Betsy Ross original flag made from hemp

Other common uses are canvas, clothing, livestock feed, cooking oils, foods and so much more. Recently, several big-name clothing brands have gone to work on building new technologies that will bring back hemp fashion to the forefront of our closets, no different from the trunks of the Pilgrims. (Okay, maybe with a little more style and color than the pilgrims, but you get the point.)  Another reason why hemp clothing is so appealing is it can last up to four times longer than cotton. Hello Sustainability!

Sustainability of Hemp

In a world where sustainability is at the forefront and driving businesses into the future, hemp has a lot of up-side for the future! It’s durable, moisture wicking, and antimicrobial by nature making it appealing for many tradesmen, athletes, hikers, and the casual wearer looking for sustainable clothing. Hemp’s only real downside is it's known to be slightly rougher than cotton which can make it rather itchy to wear. It will be exciting to see over the next few years the advancement in technologies taking this ancient plant and giving it a modern spin. Without a doubt hemp is the fabric of the future, the building material of the future, and even the plastics of the future. 

 “One acre of Hemp can produce the same amount of paper as 4 acres of trees.”

industrial hemp field for paper

This is a biggie too: One acre of Hemp, which grows in 4 month cycles, can make the same amount of paper that an acre of trees can make in 20 years. That is an absolutely MIND-BLOWING fact. It is no secret that climate change is rapidly becoming an issue on Earth. If we can save our trees and instead plant hemp, think of the impact we could make on our climate! With restrictions lifted and industries working on creating new and innovative ways of using Hemp, we can begin to make a drastic and much needed change in protecting the future for many generations to come.


What is Marijuana?


Marijuana is the variety of the cannabis plant that has been known for millennia as one of the most versatile medicines available in nature. This short bushy plant has a high THC value and unlike hemp, is made for one thing only: medicinal/recreational use!

Prior to the outlaw of marijuana in 1937, it was the most prescribed over the counter medicine by doctors and pharmacists. It was sold in a tincture form, not too different from the KC Hemp Co. tinctures we produce for our customers today.

cannabis tincture antique

What makes marijuana such an incredible medicine is the contents of cannabinoids that exist within the plant. You may recognize the common ones such as CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, THC, THCV, and Delta 8. These cannabinoids all function within our bodies in what is known as the Endocannabinoid System. 


This system functions alongside our central nervous system (including the brain), and the peripheral nervous system. These cannabinoids bind with CB1 & CB2 receptors throughout the body. These cannabinoids work within our bodies to maintain homeostasis, or balance! Most notably, cannabinoids do some MAJOR work on inflammation.

The Endocannabinoid System

Inflammation can show up in our bodies in many different forms. Stress and Anxiety in the brain whether caused by poor eating or physical, emotional trauma is believe it or not, a creation of inflammation. Arthritis, sore muscles and joints, are all forms of inflammation. Medical Marijuana is finally being studied as a potential therapy for a wide range of issues such as glaucoma, seizure disorders and even cancer.


In the past few decades with a swift uptick in state legalization, the evolution of the plant has grown two fold. Cultivators across the country have been able to isolate cannabinoids, terpenes and other natural botanicals in an effort to cross bread strains to help incredibly specific ailments. In pain? There is a strain for that. High anxiety? There is a strain for that too. Insomnia issues? You guess it, there is a strain for that also. We should really pause for a minute and give those cultivators a round of applause for what they have accomplished all while being federally illegal. The ironic part is our government actually holds patents:


Patent no. 6,630,507 covers:

the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids to protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases, such as cirrhosis.

Cannabis patent 

This patent excludes Delta 9 THC (the cannabinoid responsible for the “high”) as it was deemed to have no medical value, even though that has been debunked time and time again by scientists across the globe. In the USA, it still remains illegal in the eyes of the government. Each year we have seemingly grown closer to full legalization and 2021 may just be the year it happens on the federal level. Once it does, it will allow the flood gates to open on research here in the United States and even more so on competition within the booming cannabis industry which will only benefit current patients.


Furthermore, the pendulum is picking up momentum and swinging back in the direction of where we were pre-war on drugs where cannabis was the most used over-the counter medicine. Only the pendulum will swing higher with new technologies, research on terpenes and lesser known cannabinoids. The plants will continue to evolve with specialized treatment plans depending on blood types, conditions, and needs. 

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