What is Hemp?

January 8, 2018

Hemp is a member of the Cannabis sativa L. plant species, but it’s different than marijuana. Learn more about hemp, its benefits, and how it’s different than its marijuana sister.

You’ve heard about all the awesome things that CBD can do, but what do you know about the plant it comes from?

Although it seems hemp has surged in popularity only recently, the plant has actually been around as an industrial crop for nearly as long as humans have grown plants. Hemp offers sustainability and versatility, unlike any other plant.

What is Hemp?

Hemp, like marijuana, is a member of the Cannabis sativa L. plant species. Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of cannabis, and it’s harvested commercially for its seeds and stalk, which can be used to make thousands of products. It’s sometimes called industrial hemp, because of its many industrial purposes.

Hemp has been grown for centuries, and it’s only been recently that the versatile plant faced widespread prohibition. Luckily, over recent years, hemp has been making a comeback in the United States and today about 30 countries across Europe, Asia, and North and South America grow hemp.

hemp plant benefits

How is Hemp Different than Marijuana?

While hemp and marijuana are both members of the same cannabis plant species, they have several distinct differences.

THC and CBD Levels

The most notable difference between hemp and marijuana is their varying levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound that will cause you to get high. Marijuana often contains 10-30% THC, a level that will cause a high when consumed. This is why marijuana is most frequently grown and harvested for recreational purposes.

To be considered hemp, a cannabis plant can’t contain any more than 0.3% THC (1/3 of 1%) per dry weight, far lower than any level that causes psychoactive effects.

Instead, hemp naturally higher in cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in Dixie Botanicals® products. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it won’t get you high. Like all cannabinoids, CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to encourage balance and homeostasis.


Unlike marijuana, hemp and its fiber, seeds, and oil can be manufactured into a number of different products – from wellness products to food, paper, and building materials.

Marijuana is grown almost entirely for its high-THC flowers that make you feel high or stoned and are used for recreational purposes.

Size of Plant

Hemp grows study and tall, reaching up to 2 to 4 meters in height. While it does produce branches, most of them are concentrated toward the top of its stalk.

Compared to hemp, marijuana is shorter and bushier and full of branches and flowers. While THC is found throughout the marijuana plant, the compound is most concentrated in its flowers.

Growing Practices

Hemp naturally thrives under natural conditions, even without the use of herbicides or pesticides, so in most cases, it’s grown outside. Typically, growers plant male and female hemp plants close together, because this helps encourage wind pollination and boosts seed production.

While hemp typically flourishes while growing outdoors on its own, marijuana needs more attention and is often grown indoors. Marijuana growers need to control light, temperature and humidity to help maximize THC levels. The male marijuana plants are regularly removed to avoid the plants from being fertilized, which lowers the concentration of THC.

Legal Status

In the U.S., it is federally legal to manufacture, distribute, and possess any commercial products created using hemp. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived products like CBD oil.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law. However, more than 30 U.S. states have passed their own laws permitting the use and possession of marijuana at some level.

what is hemp

What is Hemp Used For?

Hemp is harvested for its seeds and stalk, which can be used to produce more than 25,000 different products, some of which include:

  • Wellness products
  • Food
  • Body care products
  • Paper
  • Clothing
  • Rope
  • Building materials
  • Bioplastics
  • Biofuels

Hemp is a unique plant, because every part of the plant can be harvested and used to make products. Hemp seeds, created in the flowers of pollinated female hemp plants, are considered a complete nutritional source due to their high levels of over 20 nutrients, including:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Fiber
  • Essential amino acids
  • Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids
  • Flavonoids

The seeds can be used to produce nutritious food products. With their mild, nutty flavor, they’re enjoyable eaten whole. They can also be made into hemp flour for bread and other baked goods, and pressed into nutritious hemp milk and oils.

Hemp’s entire stalk – including the hurd and bast fiber – can be harvested and used to make paper products, cordage or rope, animal bedding, insulation, mulch, fiberboard, netting, canvas, carpet, clothing, shoes, and bags.

Hemp stalks can also be used to make CBD-rich oil. Once extracted from the hemp’s stalks, this CBD oil can be used on its own as a wellness product or infused into body care products.

What’s Unique about CBD Oil Made from Hemp?

Because hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, hemp-derived CBD oil products are non-psychoactive. This allows those who are interested in augmenting their natural systems with CBD to be able to add CBD servings to their regimen without ever having to worry about getting slowed down with a high.

CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis, and it’s most abundant in hemp. CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system, a regulatory network that keeps many functions – metabolism, mood, appetite, and pain response — in a state of balance. CBD oil products made from hemp also contain the plant’s array of nutrients and essential building blocks of a healthy body.

Hemp-derived CBD oil has grown in popularity over the years as more people learn about how the product can help keep the body running at its peak. CBD oil made from hemp is legally available at the federal level, without the need for a doctor’s recommendation.

Learn More About Hemp

You can learn even more about hemp and hemp-derived CBD products, including how they can help your body function at its best, by visiting the Dixie Botanicals® blog.

Ready to start with hemp-derived CBD? Shop the HempMeds® online store and have our CBD products delivered right to your door.