The differences between Cannabis, Marijuana and CBD


Christa Simmons

CBD vs THC - Sugar Ray's DC

– and what they mean for you.

As various states begin the process of marijuana legalization, many US residents are faced with an incredible amount of jargon they aren’t sure how to differentiate. It doesn’t help that the cannabis plant family has more names and subtle differences that most people know what to do with.

CBD vs THC - Sugar Ray's DC

If you’re reading this, you’re likely asking yourself, “So what exactly is cannabis? And what is marijuana? What’s the difference between those things and CBD? Is recreational weed legal in DC? Are they all the same thing?”

Put simply; the answer is No. They are not the same thing, though they are within the same family and are very closely related.

And we have good news for you. After you read this article, you’ll never get them mixed up again, and you’ll also be familiar with your local DC weed dispensary.

So without further ado, here’s what the difference is and what it means for you:

So what’s the difference?

There’s a good reason they’re routinely mixed up. The differences between hemp, cannabis and marijuana are incredibly subtle, but there is a difference.

Botanically speaking, all of these plants are in the Cannabaceae family, and the differences between them are slight. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to be looking at the two main chemicals Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Here is a breakdown of the basics:


So then, what’s the difference between cannabis and marijuana?

Well, cannabis is the botanical term that refers to the entire genus of flowering plants to which hemp and marijuana belong. Put simply, marijuana and hemp are both subcategories of cannabis. The cannabaceae family, contrary to popular belief, actually contains about 170 different species of plant.

The confusion here arises because cannabis and marijuana are terms that are often used interchangeably by mass media and law enforcement agencies when they should not be. Because cannabis represents both hemp and marijuana subsets, it is not wholly accurate to use the term cannabis when referring only to the marijuana species.

Despite this confusion, however, the laws governing the plants are very specific and are dependent almost entirely on THC content. As such, the terms hemp and marijuana represent plants that have found themselves on very different sides of the law.


As you may have guessed, marijuana is a member of the cannabis family and is widely known as the intoxicating cousin of hemp. However, while the two may share a family, they remain chemically and legally separate.

The high levels of THC (legally anything about 0.3%) cause significant effects when consumed. This plant, while federally prohibited, is legal in certain states due to laws passed in recent years to decriminalize the plant. Most states have legalized it for medical use exclusively, but some have cannabis flower and other products available for adult recreational use, one of which being right here in the city of Washington DC.

Like CBD, marijuana is also used in various commercial products such as topicals, edibles, extracts, etc. Although it is most often sold as a cured and dried bud for smoking purposes, you can find these products at places such as Sugar Ray’s DC weed dispensary.

CBD vs THC - Sugar Ray's DC



CBD is an extract derived from either marijuana or hemp plants. This extract has been used for decades in a variety of commercial products to treat mood and sleep disorders as it promotes a strong sensation of calm and euphoria without the high you would get from marijuana.

In the United States, CBD is sold in many different ways. These products are usually split into two separate categories: CBD derived from hemp and CBD derived from marijuana. This is because its efficacy changes depending on where it was derived.

Studies have shown that CBD derived from a marijuana plant (and that contains a small amount of THC) works better than that which comes from hemp. This is because THC essentially acts as a catalyst to activate the CBD’s therapeutic effects, so when the two are paired, each is more potent than it would otherwise be.

What does this mean for me?

In short, it means you should govern your purchases and consumption with care. Currently, marijuana is available only to adults over the age of 21, while hemp’s CBD products can be purchased by those over the age of 18 in most states.

Additionally, you should only purchase these types of products from a verified dispensary such as Sugar Rays to be sure what you are buying. Sugar Rays is a local weed dispensary in Washington DC open to the public.

It is also essential to be mindful of where you keep your cannabis. It is a good idea to have a secure cabinet or container at home where you can store it well out of reach of children or pets.

Key Takeaways

After a lengthy prohibition, cannabis is finally becoming legalized, and marijuana products are growing in production and efficacy as we learn more about them. However, as we progress as a society, we are faced with specific questions that did not previously concern us.

It has always been Sugar Ray’s policy to provide accurate, helpful information regarding these plants. Our goal is to destigmatize the cannabis family so that you cannot only consume it safely but also be well-informed as you do so. It is for this reason you no longer have to wonder if recreational weed is legal in Washington DC. As of 2014, it is completely legal for all uses.

For more information on cannabis, hemp, and marijuana, be sure to visit our blog. To learn more about the various forms cannabis can take, visit our shop.

And the next time you’re in Washington DC thinking, “Is there a weed dispensary near me?” think Sugar Ray’s.