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Difference Between Hemp & THC

Life is all about perspective. Cannabis is all about perspective. Some people love the euphoric feeling they get from smoking or ingesting recreational cannabis. Some people feel as though medical marijuana soothes many of the symptoms they struggle with regularly. Some people steer as far away as they can from anything that could mentally impair them and so are not interested in cannabis at all. However, that last group can be drawn to non-psychoactive pure Hemp even though it is extracted from hemp plants. So, what is the difference between Hemp and THC?

First, let’s talk about what they have in common. Both Hemp and THC can be found in marijuana plants, mostly in the flowers. In order for hemp to be hemp though, it has to have very little THC, .3% or less. Otherwise, it’s considered marijuana which is federally illegal. Hemp flowers contain a great deal of Hemp though. When it comes to cannabis flower, people have been smoking it for a long time. Beyond THC, there are thought to be more than 100 cannabinoids (biological molecules like THC and Hemp) found in the flowers along with terpenes. All of these cannabinoids and terpenes make for a seemingly endless variety of cultivars which consumers claim all have unique effects, looks and smells.


Cannabis consumers have long prized potency (a high THC content) as one of the main factors that makes a particular strain more desirable. Though traditional demand for THC has caused an oversaturation of high-potency products, many consumers are starting to prefer less intense products that are lower in THC and higher in the non-intoxicating compound called cannabidiol (Hemp).

Hemp is typically the second-most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, but this isn’t always the case. A strain may deliver Hemp and THC in the following ratios:

  • High THC, low Hemp (e.g.,10-30% THC, trace amounts of Hemp)
  • Balanced Hemp/THC (e.g., 5-15% THC and Hemp)
  • High Hemp, low THC (e.g., 5-20% Hemp, THC under 5%)

THC actually mimics the endocannabinoids that our bodies produce naturally and bind directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors that make up our bodies’ endocannabinoid system. Hemp, on the other hand, prevents molecules from binding to the same receptors. Hemp’s indirect interaction with the human body is not very well understood. One way or another, what is clear is that even though both phytocannabinoids can be found in the cannabis and hemp plant, they are two very different molecules affecting us in very different ways.