What’s the difference between Cannabis, Marijuana, Hemp, THC, and CBD?



December 10, 2021

As cannabis gains momentum, it is proving to be one of the greatest wellness trends of all time. Originally connected to spliffs and bongs, cannabis is now part of the world’s mainstream natural medicine. After many countries banned it, many are reversing this with proof it can help with many medical conditions.

There is now proof cannabis can help with epilepsydepressionschizophreniaanxiety, and many more conditions.

Without a doubt, CBD is the buzz word of today. It is the most popular component of cannabis. Apart from its medicinal properties, it is not psychoactive so it appeals to people who want a natural treatment without getting high. And according to the World Health Organization (WHO) it has few negative side effects.

And when you are new to the world of cannabis, it can be difficult to grasp an understanding of the differences between cannabis, marijuana, hemp, THC, and CBD. It is complex and so is the cannabis plant. Let’s go through them and make some clear distinctions.


Cannabis is the umbrella term for marijuana or hemp for a species of plants. The plant contains hundreds of cannabinoids. Two of the most well-known are THC and CBD. When people talk about cannabis they can also be referring to marijuana or hemp.


Marijuana is a type of cannabis plant that is high in THC. And, depending on the strain, it can also contain CBD. Subjected to widespread bans, its reputation is deeply maligned. But not for good reason. The only really potential negative effect is the high it produces but for some medical patients this can be positive because of its relaxing effects. There are few long-term studies on its long-term effects from continued use.

The levels of THC varies depending on the plant variety. Normally between 10 to 20%, but as high as 30% in some marijuana varieties.

But, be warned, smoking marijuana (as opposed to using oils and edibles) can have a negative effect as can all types of smoking. The smoke can contain different chemicals that can cause respiratory problems.

Hemp (a high-CBD variety of cannabis plant)

Hemp is a variety of cannabis that is high in CBD with low levels of THC. It is super easy to grow and its primary purpose is for producing food, textiles, and building materials.

Although hemp has higher levels of CBD it does not yield at lot when extracted. However, CBD oil from hemp is not the same as CBD oil from cannabis. So keep this in mind when shopping online. It is usually known as hemp oil.

Growers plant hemp to cleanse the soil. It absorbs everything including pesticides, toxins, fertilizers, and insecticides. It is important to know where hemp is grown as there are no regulations for hemp grown overseas. It can be safer when grown in the US as there are stricter standards.


Cannabinoids are one of the compounds in cannabis plants. You also produce cannabinoids naturally within your body. They are neurotransmitters which are part of your endocannabinoid system.

There are more than 400 compounds in cannabis and the main active cannabinoids are known as phytocannabinoids. The naturally occurring cannabinoids in our body are known as endocannabinoids.


THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the cannabinoid responsible for getting you high. But apart from its psychoactive element, THC has some positive health benefits. These include relieving pain, stimulating your appetite, helping you to sleep, and controlling anxiety. But THC works best together with the other compounds in the plant to get the desired effect. This is known as the entourage effect.

An example is that while CBD is effective on its own, it works best with THC. Studies show that the synergy of cannabis compounds enhance the therapeutic effects better than when used on their own. CBD is often used in isolation, but THC usually comes from the whole flower.

Because THC is psychoactive, it is best to start with low doses and build it up slowly. This is because it affects everyone differently. A small dose of THC in one person can get someone high, while someone else can take the same amount without any effect.


CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is a phytocannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is not psychoactive and has many medical benefits. It is not addictive, yet it can relieve anxiety and reduce inflammation but it does not relieve pain. Though there are some studies to the contrary that show CBD has the potential to be effective relieving the pain associated with chemotherapy in patients with cancer.

According to the WHO, CBD has the potential to treat

  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • psychosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • IBD
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • cancer
  • inflammatory disease
  • diabetic complications.

Topical treatments can also assist in relieving eczema and other skin conditions.

Manufacturers add CBD to tinctures and oils as well as to edibles for medical use. And for faster relief you can vaporize the oil.

There is currently no specific dosages for using CBD to treatment ailments. How much to take varies depending on the condition and the individual. It is best to start off with a small dose to see how it affects you and build up the dose slowly up from there.

CBD has no significant side effects but it can potentially cause a dry mouth and may have an impact on your blood pressure. It is important to talk to your doctor before taking CBD products as it can have a negative impact when used in conjunction with some prescription medications.

What it all means

Now you have a greater understanding of the difference between cannabis, marijuana, hemp, cannabinoids, THC, and CBD, you can choose the right cannabis product for you. Keep in mind, when shopping online, that hemp oil is not the same as cannabis or CBD oils.

Also, THC and CBD work better together in some products as it produces an entourage effect. This is where they can be more effectively used together than separately.

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