Cannabis or marijuana? Which one is right? In our introductory post we touched on some of the thinking behind this series and some of the terminology around medical cannabis, more commonly known as medical marijuana. It is… Language matters.

In areas where there are deep-grooved stories of danger, mis-trust and trouble, our language often reflects that.   At Soulful Cannabis, we are seeking to promote a re-imagining of how the world thinks about cannabis.   How we think about something…

Cannabis and marijuana are words that are often used interchangeably, but there is actually a difference between the two terms. Again – language really matters!


The term ‘cannabis’ refers to the plant itself. It is an over-arching term that can refer to both the hemp plant and the marijuana plant. The key difference between these two types of cannabis is the THC content. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component of cannabis. If we’re talking about hemp, we’re talking about a plant that has very little THC. In the United States, products like CBD are derived from hemp plants where the concentration of THC is under 0.3% – this percentage is much higher, and therefore produces the “high” effect of marijuana, in marijuana cannabis plants.

Often, it is said that the term cannabis refers to all of these plants, while marijuana refers to the dried flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant that are often smoked for the THC content inside.


CBD and marijuana are not the same. CBD is a cannabis compound that does not make users feel “high.” Marijuana contains both CBD and THC. In the United States, however, legal CBD must be derived from the hemp plant, not the marijuana plant (both of which are types of cannabis plant, if you’re keeping up with me!).


To circle back again to another common term – “Hemp” is another term that is sometimes used to describe cannabis, but hemp actually refers to a variety of cannabis plants that contain very low levels of THC (the main psychoactive component of cannabis). In the U.S., the Farm Act of 2018 made hemp legal in all 50 states, and by extension products derived from hemp – namely, CBD products. The use of CBD products in the U.S. has climbed drastically since that time. Therefore, when we talk about hemp on this site and in the general context of the “cannabis marketplace”, hemp and CBD are terms that often go together, the latter being exclusively derived from the former in these products.

Why worry about these terms? Say it with us: Language Matters! Soulful Cannabis has always been about sharing knowledge, and a firm grasp of terms certainly help in that pursuit. We want everyone to think about THC, CBD, and cannabis in general with a clear head and sound decision-making.

Cannabis is a correct term to use when referring to all of these plants, while marijuana is the correct term to use when referring to the dried flowers, leaves, and stems of the higher-THC marijuana plant. Hemp is another term that can be used to describe cannabis, but it technically refers to a variety of cannabis plants that contain very low levels of THC, from which modern-day CBD products are derived here in the United States.

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By Soulful Steve

I’m Soulful Steve.  I'm a writer, IT professional, and daily user of cannabis for relief and wellness. Soulful Cannabis is where I share knowledge, product info, and occasional tall tales with those of you out there considered cannabis curious!  Now that I’m getting older, I’m leaning into CBD products to keep my quality of life and take the edge off daily stress. Come explore the amazing cannabis plant with me!