Hemp, Marijuana, Cannabis, CBD, THC… What Does It All Mean?

If you’ve been online looking for CBD products, you’ve undoubtedly encountered a lot of different terminology. It can be confusing, because some terms have been used more or less interchangeably in the past, but have recently taken on new, more specific meanings. In this article, we break down some of the common terms used in the CBD industry and discuss what they mean. This will help you understand the differences between CBD products and ultimately be a better consumer.


The word cannabis refers to the Cannabis sativa L. plant. It’s a Latin name for a plant that has been used by humans for at least 1,200 years, mainly for its fiber (for cloth and paper) and its seeds (which are edible and rich in oils). It also has a long history of recreational use. There are several different varieties of cannabis plants, but the two that concern us here are marijuana and hemp. From a regulatory standpoint, the difference between the two has to do with the concentration of THC—one of the “cannabinoids” found in cannabis flowers and leaves.


Cannabis plants contain more than a hundred different cannabinoids—the plant compounds that interact with human brain chemistry to affect our physiology and psychology. Many of these cannabinoids are being researched for their health benefits, but the two most studied, most plentiful, and most important are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). I’ll say more about these cannabinoids below, but in short: THC gets you high; CBD does not. If a cannabis plant contains more than 0.3% THC, it is legally classified as marijuana. 


In truth, marijuana is simply the Mexican name for cannabis. Now, however, the term marijuana has come to mean a cannabis plant that contains mid- to high levels of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the “high” that people find enjoyable when using the plant recreationally. Marijuana has been and still is deemed a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.


Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that contains almost no THC. In order to be legally categorized as hemp rather than marijuana, the plant must contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight, which is such a small amount that it’s impossible to get high from hemp, no matter how you ingest it. Hemp plants still have more than a hundred different cannabinoids, including much higher levels of CBD than marijuana does. Due to its low THC content, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the DEA’s list of Schedule I drugs, though it is still regulated by the FDA. CBD has been the subject of dozens of scientific studies that show a wide range of health benefits.

At CBD Plaza, all of our CBD products are derived from hemp, not from marijuana, which guarantees that our products contain less than 0.3% THC. Some contain no THC at all (see below). All of the products we sell are legal in the United States under current FDA regulations.

Different Types of CBD Products

In addition to the wide range of possible ways of ingesting CBD (for example, tincturesor topicals), it’s important to understand another distinction, which has to do with the range of cannabinoids contained in the product. Above, I mentioned that hemp contains more than a hundred different cannabinoids. Some products deliberately screen out one more of these, as discussed below.

  • Full Spectrum CBDFull spectrum CBD contains all of the cannabinoids that grow naturally in hemp, including a trace amount of THC (less than 0.3%). If you’re looking for the least processed, most natural option, and you’re not concerned about ingesting a small about of THC, then we recommend going with full spectrum CBD products. 
  • Broad Spectrum CBDBroad spectrum CBD products are very similar to full spectrum, with the difference that all THC has been removed, so broad spectrum products have zero THC. However, all of the other naturally occurring cannabinoids are still present, so the entourage effect still applies. If you want a CBD product that contains absolutely no THC, but you want the benefits of the other natural cannabinoids, we recommend a broad spectrum product.
  • CBD IsolateProducts containing CBD isolate contain only one cannabinoid—CBD—which has been removed from the hemp plant, isolated, and concentrated. If you’re looking for purity, precisely controlled dosing, and pharmaceutical-style medicine, we recommend products containing CBD isolate.

Questions, comments? Need help finding a product that’s right for you? Feel free to contact us and let us know what you think.

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