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April 2021

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Over the past five or six years, there has been an explosion of the market for hemp and CBD products, while the decriminalization and/or legalization of marijuana has made the news across the country. The industry has become more diverse, more complex, and to the parent who wants to protect their child, more frightening and confusing. Here are some of the basics you need to know.

Marijuana is also known as weed, cannabis, and many other names.

What is THC?
THC is delta-9 tetrahydrocannobinol, the most commonly known of the cannabinoids, which are a group of active chemical compounds found in cannabis that can cause users to get “high.”1 Why is this the first question we answer? Because the level of THC has a tremendous impact on the classification and safety of the product, and it’s also what makes weed addictive.

In spite of the claims that it is harmless, one in ten people who use marijuana (which has higher levels of THC now in 2020 than it did in 2000) will become addicted. Among teens who use cannabis, that rate increases to one in six becoming addicted.2

What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and like THC, it is a cannabinoid, but unlike THC, it does not give the user a “high” and studies indicate it is not addictive. There are many people who swear by it for medicinal purposes, but more study is needed to sustain these claims.

If you choose to use a product with CBD in it, be careful, as it can cause you to fail a drug test. Some products use a combination of CBD and THC, and CBD itself can contain up to .3% THC. In addition, CBD is still on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s banned list, and therefore it is not regulated by the government. This means that when you purchase a product, you cannot be sure that it includes what is on the label.

This infographic provides a brief overview of terms commonly used in regards to marijuana, including THC, CBD, Cannabis, and Hemp.
This infographic provides an overview of information about weed (marijuana).

Is Cannabis the same as marijuana?
Technically, Cannabis is a plant, and the drug called marijuana is made up of the dried flowers and leaves of that plant. There are three plants in the species:

  • Cannabis sativa
  • Cannabis indica
  • Cannabis ruderalis

Cannabis sativa typically has a higher level of THC and is used to make marijuana, while Cannabis indica has a higher level of CBD and a lower amount of THC. Cannabis ruderalis also has a lower amount of THC than sativa.

All that being said, if you’re talking to someone about Cannabis, they’re probably talking about the drug known as marijuana, weed, or pot. The industry has made a concerted effort to leave all of these terms behind and change the accepted terminology to “cannabis,” which they see as having a more positive public image, without the racist undertones of marijuana.

What is hemp?
As if the varieties of cannabis above weren’t confusing enough, hemp and marijuana both come from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa. The difference is the level of THC in the plant. Hemp contains more CBD, and by law must consist of less than 3% THC. In contrast, the marijuana of today can have 20% or more THC.4


  1. CDC, A Closer Look: How Cannabis Impacts Health: https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/nas/index.html
  2. CDC, Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health? https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects.html
  3. The Healthy, What Is CBD Oil? Here’s What You Need to Know: https://www.thehealthy.com/alternative-medicine/what-is-cbd-oil/
  4. MSN, What is Hemp? What Experts Need You to Know: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/what-is-hemp-what-experts-need-you-to-know/ar-BB186pQL
  5. CDC, What is marijuana? https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/faqs/what-is-marijuana.html