There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the differences between marijuana and hemp. Both marijuana and hemp may in fact be part of the same subspecies of plants originating from and endemic to Central Asia, but were and are selectively bred for either drug production or fiber and seed production.
Marijuana (Cannabis Indica, often colloquially called “cannabis”) is a plant containing high levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) used mainly for medical and recreational use. Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) on the other hand, has a variety of uses, which include construction, food, body care, fuel and is even used as a supplement with medicinal benefits (such as CBD hemp oil). One of the main differences between marijuana and hemp is that while marijuana will get you high if you smoke it or ingest it, hemp will not.
The main thing that marijuana and hemp share is that they can both contain high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which has been shown to potentially reduce pain, soothe anxiety, improve mood, eliminate depression, prevent inflammatory arthritis, protect the immune system, balance the metabolism, help fight insomnia, and even heal the skin.
Despite having different effects and uses, and despite hemp containing less than 0.3% THC (compared to up to 35% in marijuana), they are still treated as one and the same by the federal government in terms of legality. Growing both marijuana and hemp is illegal in the United States thanks to their classification as Class I substances under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, despite the federal ban on growing hemp, the FDA has approved hemp oil as a supplement, and hemp seeds and products are imported into the United States and sold legally.
Long story short, even though hemp and marijuana may be federally regulated in the same way, and be subspecies of the same plant, their uses and applications are not the same. The proposed 2018 Farm Bill will give the hemp industry a stronger foothold by differentiating the cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of hemp from cannabis.