You may have noticed jars or baggies of CBD hemp flower lining the shelves of your local tobacconist or headshop— it looks (and can smell) just like marijuana (THC-cannabis). Obviously, they’re not the same, one is federally legal to ship across state lines and mail via the USPS, and the other— marijuana— is illegal and a Schedule I substance according to the DEA. So what’s the difference between CBD hemp vs. marijuana?  

Aside from legality which we’ll get to later, there are a few including,  

  • Botanical differences
  • Uses of CBD hemp vs. marijuana
  • And, the availability of both

CBD Hemp Vs. Marijuana: What’s The Difference

Above are two different cannabis plants. One is a picture of Afghan Kush, a recreational THC marijuana cultivar grown by our sister company, Sunset Lake Cannabis, and the other is one of our Lifter hemp plants. Can you tell which is which? If not, don’t worry, that’s the point. Both hemp and marijuana come from the same plant with different genetics. One set of genetics expresses higher concentrations of CBD while the other expresses higher concentrations of THC.

Technically speaking, CBD hemp flower contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC calculated on a dry weight basis. Marijuana is any cannabis flower that tests over that 0.3% delta-9 THC threshold.

(The answer is Lifter on the left, Afghan Kush on the right.)

What Is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It’s not psychoactive meaning that you won’t feel high or intoxicated when you consume it. The FDA has yet to publish any studies about CBD and humans, but there is one CBD-derived drug called Epidiolex used to manage rare forms of seizures.


The real difference between CBD hemp vs. marijuana is the expressed cannabinoids and the difference between CBD and THC is the effect on the user. 

Unlike CBD, THC can: 

  • Induce a euphoric-like high in its users
  • Trigger feelings of anxiety or paranoia 
  • Heighten a user’s awareness
  • Make users experience time dilation
  • Make you fail a workplace drug test

Read more: Will CBD Make You Fail a Drug Test?

The Legality Of CBD Hemp vs. Marijuana

Congress and the FDA have yet to codify the line between hemp vs. marijuana. According to the 2018 Farm Bill hemp is considered to be any cannabis that contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC based on dry weight. Dried cannabis flower and products that contain more than 0.3% delta-9 THC are considered to be marijuana products. 

While that seems like a pretty cut-and-dry line, it is not. The way Congress passed the law back in 2018 left the door open for products and flower containing higher concentrations of THC derivatives and THC’s acidic form (THCa, which converts to delta-9 when you smoke it).

CBD hemp that tests under the 0.3% delta-9 THC limit is considered an agricultural commodity by the federal government and legal throughout the United States and territories. That’s assuming that the vendor has the certificates of analysis to verify that their product is hemp and not marijuana.

Read more: How To Read Your Certificate of Analysis

CBD Hemp vs. Marijuana For…


While there is no definitive answer whether CBD hemp vs. marijuana is better for pain— marijuana testing has been stifled due to the FDA’s scheduling of the plant. 

Many users report using CBD hemp to help manage their

  • Inflammation
  • IBS (Inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Migraines 
  • Arthritis


Both CBD hemp and marijuana have been used to treat anxiety

Some studies have demonstrated CBD hemp’s efficiency in reducing anxiety behaviors linked to: 

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Marijuana users report mixed findings when using THC to manage their anxiety. That may be because extreme doses of THC have been linked to feelings of anxiety and paranoia.


Because of THC’s legal status, shipping marijuana across state lines is still illegal. 

However, CBD hemp’s status as an agricultural commodity means that it can be bought online and shipped via the USPS to any state and delivered to your door. For more on purchasing CBD hemp, check out our store page.


  1. Herbies team. “What Is THC? – Herbies.” Marijuana Seeds – Cannabis Seeds For Sale – Buy Weed Seeds Online – Herbies, Herbies, 9 Mar. 2020, 
  2. “Farm Bill.” USDA, United State Department of Agriculture, 2018, <>
  3. Gstalter, Morgan. “McConnell Bill Would Legalize Hemp as Agricultural Product.” TheHill, 26 Mar. 2018, <>
  4. Contributors to Wikimedia projects. “Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction – Wikipedia.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 15 Mar. 2011, 
  5. Blessing, Esther M et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics vol. 12,4 (2015): 825-36. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
  6. Shapiro, Gary E. “P.S. Docket No. MLB 18-39.” USPS, 8 Nov. 2018 <>