News > Hemp vs THC - What's the Difference?

Hemp vs THC - What's the Difference?

Thu, Jun 02, 2022 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hemp vs THC - What's the Difference?

When most people think of hemp, they probably think of rope, hempseed protein, or CBD products. 

When people think of THC, on the other hand, they probably think of cannabis products — products that can get you high!

But the true difference between hemp and THC is a little more subtle. Keep reading to learn more. 

  • Hemp vs. THC, or hemp vs. cannabis?
  • Hemp vs. cannabis 101
  • Hemp vs. cannabis: legality
  • Hemp vs. cannabis: active ingredients
  • Hemp vs. cannabis: physical benefits
  • Hemp vs. cannabis: mental benefits

Hemp vs. THC, or hemp vs. cannabis?

First things first: the hemp vs. THC question might not actually be the right question to ask. 

Hemp is a plant that contains many compounds, while THC is a compound found in many plants. 

It’s kind of like the difference between shapes and circles. You can’t really directly compare them, because they belong to different categories! 

In other words, if you’re wondering about the difference between hemp and THC…it might be wiser to focus on the difference between hemp and cannabis instead.

Hemp vs. cannabis 101

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s take a look at some of the biggest differences between hemp and cannabis! 

Actually…even this subtopic needs a little disclaimer. Contrary to what you may have been thinking, hemp and cannabis are not different species. Both of them belong to the cannabis Sativa plant species. 

The difference between hemp and cannabis is a legal one, not a botanical one, and it’s based solely on cannabinoid content. [1] Hemp is far higher in CBD and earthy terpenes; cannabis is far higher in THC and citrus terpenes. This gives the two types of plants different effects, a different appearance, and a different feel. 

Hemp’s chemical composition

CBD: 10-20%

THC: <0.3% 

Terpenes: earthy

Cannabis’s chemical composition

THC: 20-30% 

CBD: 0-5%

Terpenes: citrusy

Hemp vs. cannabis: legality

As we explained above, the primary difference between hemp and cannabis is a legal/chemical one. Technically speaking, it’s all cannabis!

In legal terms, however, cannabis that contains 0.3% THC or less is considered industrial hemp. This type of cannabis gains several legal advantages the moment its THC content dips below 0.4% of its total weight. Industrial hemp can be bought, sold, formulated into all manner of products, and transported across state lines. 

Conventional high-THC cannabis? It can’t do any of that. Not on the federal level, at least. Any state that wants legalized cannabis must take the efforts to legalize it. While many states have done this, cannabis is still nowhere near as legal as hemp is. 

Hemp vs. cannabis: active ingredients

Let’s take a closer look at the chemical differences between hemp and cannabis next.

Industrial hemp tends to contain more:

  • CBD
  • CBDa
  • CBDv
  • CBG
  • CBGa
  • CBC
  • CBT
  • Pinene
  • Linalool
  • Humulene
  • Terpinolene

High-THC cannabis, on the other hand, tends to contain more:

  • THC (delta-9)
  • THC (delta-8)
  • THC (delta-10)
  • THCa
  • THCv
  • CBN
  • Myrcene
  • Limonene
  • Cannflavins

Hemp vs. cannabis: physical benefits

As you might expect based on their ingredients lists, hemp and cannabis have wildly different physical effects. 

Hemp’s CBD makes it perfect for athletes, entrepreneurs, and other active types who need to counter the inflammatory wear and tear of life. Research shows that CBD’s ability to activate certain endocannabinoid receptors may result in improved metabolic efficiency and full-body balance. [2]

Why’s something as intangible as full-body balance so important? That’s the thing: it only seems intangible. The truth is that the human body is inexplicably complex, filled with systems within systems within systems. For everything to function well enough for you to, well, stay alive, all these systems need to be in communication with eachother. [3] That’s exactly what your body’s endocannabinoid system helps with.

And, as fate would have it, this is the very same system that’s activated and energized by CBD. No wonder so many people who take CBD and other hemp products report feeling more centered and balanced! 

High-THC cannabis also has quite the list of health benefits. THC activates a different ‘side’ of the endocannabinoid system than CBD does, which means its benefits are more mentally oriented — but more on that next. [4] Cannabis’s THC content makes it great for people who struggle with sleep problems. It also does great when formulated into a topical and used to combat stubborn aches and pains. 

Hemp vs. cannabis: mental benefits

Hemp and cannabis differ when it comes to their mental benefits, too. 

Hemp’s blend of CBD and earthy terpenes makes it calming, grounding, and stabilizing. Thousands of people who used to struggle with anxiety now swear by a consistent CBD routine. 

Contrast that with cannabis’s higher THC content, which makes it uplifting, blissful, and euphoric. But don’t think it’s impractical — those who want to get a creative edge often turn to cannabis to do so. 

CBD may be best for people who want to increase their focus, motivation, and output at work. Cannabis is different — it’s probably best for people who just want to plan, meditate, and unwind. (Cannabis’s effects vary by strain, of course.) 

And because cannabis directly activates endocannabinoid receptors present in areas of the brain that help form and store memories, it’s also useful for people who want to change their minds. That includes those who struggle with ADHD, post-traumatic stress, and more. As one leading cannabis expert once implied, THC’s activation of the endocannabinoid system helps a person “relax, eat, sleep, forget, and protect.” [5

Hemp vs. cannabis: top products

Well, there you have it! They might be different, but cannabis and hemp round eachother out pretty perfectly. 

Let’s wrap things up by revisiting our original hemp vs. THC concept. As it happens, some products contain them both! 

That might seem a little bit counterintuitive, but it’s true: premium hemp products also contain a little bit of THC. Hemp’s primary active ingredient is CBD, sure, but the trace amount of THC in hemp is also important. These two cannabinoids actually work together to fully activate your body’s endocannabinoid system. They may also balance eachother out. 

fiveTM’s CBD + THC Oil is one such product. It’s 100% sourced from hemp — and still manages to feature a 5:1 blend of CBD to THC and other cannabinoids. Users say it worked for them when conventional hemp-derived CBD oil did not. 


Summing things up

As it turns out, hemp and THC aren’t mutually exclusive. Full spectrum hemp products will harness the benefits of both CBD and THC! What’s more, these products place both cannabinoids into a safe, effective, and true-to-nature forum. Oh, and they’re fully legal, too. Experience the difference that truly full spectrum hemp makes today.

Related CBD Articles:

Best CBD + THC Edibles from Five

Best Delta 9 THC Gummies by five™ CBD + THC

Our Favorite CBD + THC Gummies For Sleep

CBD and Melatonin - How They Help With Sleep

THC Seltzer: The Cure for "Hangxiety"?

Five CBD & THC Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals for BFCM 2024