Cannabis, Marijuana, Hemp—What’s the Difference?

Have you found yourself googling, “What are the different words for cannabis?” or spending too much time researching cannabis vs. hemp, CBD vs. marijuana, or hemp vs. marijuana? There’s a wide range of pet products and supplements out there, with even more misinformation on the substances in those products. Cannabis, hemp, marijuana—isn’t it all the same thing? The short answer is no! But the long answer is a little more complicated. Before delving into the world of cannabis products, it’s important to first understand the differences and overlaps between each of these terms. We’ve broken down the basics of each subject, so you can be better prepared to choose a product that is safe and works for your pet.

Cannabis

Think of this first subject as the umbrella term that ties marijuana and hemp together—because it’s the source of both! Cannabis is a group of flowering plants that includes the species Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. The plants contain hundreds of different naturally occurring chemical compounds, most of which are cannabinoids. You’ve probably heard of at least two of them: CBD and THC.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, meaning that it doesn’t cause the feeling of euphoria or being “high.” THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive cannabinoid that causes the “high” associated with marijuana use.

Though the term “cannabis” is sometimes used interchangeably with “marijuana” to refer to the medical and recreational drug, this substitution is incorrect on a number of levels. It’s also worth noting that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved marijuana for use in treating dogs or cats. But hang in there—we’ll get to hemp and all its potential benefits for pets soon enough, right after we take a closer look at what makes up marijuana.

Marijuana

Marijuana contains higher concentrations of the psychotropic compound THC, the substance which causes euphoria. Its legality and usage (either recreational or medical) is restricted by state. While medical marijuana is legal in over 20 states, possession of the drug is still illegal in much of the U.S. Recreational marijuana products are also largely unregulated, with unclear dosages and unknown concentrations of cannabinoids. Without proper knowledge of the ratio of THC to CBD in a product, you can’t be sure how much of the substances you’re ingesting or giving to your pet, who is far more sensitive to these compounds.

It’s also illegal for a veterinarian to prescribe marijuana for your pet! Marijuana supplements and other products made from the dried flowers of cannabis plants can be beneficial to humans, but potentially harmful to your cat or dog. Marijuana often contains a much higher concentration of THC than hemp, and the THC and CBD levels in this substance can cause negative side effects in pets, such as low blood pressure, lethargy, and incontinence. In addition to those side effects, the concentration of cannabinoids in marijuana makes it easy to accidentally overdose on the drug. The main takeaway? This is not something you should give to your cat or dog.

Hemp

Hemp, on the other hand, is not marijuana—it’s a different member of the cannabis family, though you may also see it used interchangeably with cannabis. Largely made up of natural compounds called phytocannabinoids, hemp has lower concentrations of CBD, THC, and other non-psychotropic cannabinoids than marijuana. These lowered levels allow pets to reap the benefits of cannabis while minimizing the potentially dangerous side effects of other forms of the plant. And while marijuana is illegal in many U.S. states, hemp is legal in every part of the country.

Even small concentrations of the compounds found in hemp can allow pets to enjoy the supportive benefits of the cannabis plant. The combination of phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in Canna Companion’s hemp-based pet supplements helps maintain a healthy digestive system, normal immune system, and other natural bodily functions. As with any supplement, you should consult your veterinarian before beginning to give it to your pet. He or she can help you determine whether a hemp-based supplement will meet the unique needs of your cat or dog.

Support Your Pet’s Health with Canna Companion

At Canna Companion, we’re passionate about supporting the health of your pets, and we work towards that goal with our cannabis pet supplements. Specially formulated with a unique blend of Cannabis sativa strains designed to promote comfort, mobility, digestion, and more, our supplements can help your dog or cat live a happy and healthy life. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings or to schedule a consultation with a veterinary professional who can help you figure out if cannabis is right for your pet.