How To Identify Hemp Buds

When it comes to identifying hemp buds from marijuana buds, many experts can struggle sometimes. Both of these come from the same plant family and the same genus. Therefore, both share many physical characteristics like color, smell, and appearance. 

The only difference between the two is in their chemical composition and effects. Legally, buds with less than 0.3% THC are considered hemp buds, whereas buds with more than 0.3% THC are considered marijuana buds. 

Both marijuana buds and hemp buds share many physical traits, but you can easily tell them apart. Both have very different effects on the body, so you can easily tell them apart. Hemp buds consist primarily of CBD and various other cannabinoids. 

Moreover, they are low in THC content; therefore, they do not give you the high associated with weed consumption. CBD compounds in the hemp buds have many medicinal properties. They provide stress and pain relief without making you paranoid or affecting your cognitive abilities. Marijuana buds, on the other hand, contain very little CBD. They are rich in THC, the chemical compound that makes you high. 

THC can significantly affect your cognitive abilities. Moreover, it can make activities like driving and operating heavy machinery dangerous tasks. If you are reluctant to smoke the mysterious buds to find out their identity, there is good news for you. You can use many unconventional methods to make an educated guess about whether your buds are hemp buds or marijuana buds. 

However, you should keep in mind that you are only making an educated guess by using these techniques. The answer cannot be 100% true. A chemical composition test is the only reliable way to get an accurate answer. Nevertheless, these simple tricks are worth mentioning, so here they are:

HempPlant Height

If the plant is available for you to examine, then it makes the job easier for you. You can observe the height of the plant to guess whether your buds are hemp buds or marijuana buds. Hemp plants are usually thin and can grow as tall as 20 feet. Moreover, they have a well-developed root system. 

Marijuana plants, on the other hand, are usually small. They also have a bushy appearance with a primitive root system. Thus, if your plant is thin and tall like bamboo, you probably are looking at hemp buds. Some marijuana species can also grow significantly tall. Therefore, there is always some room for doubt.

Plant Shape

Plant shape can also help you to distinguish between the buds. Hemp plants, in general, have a long slanty body shape. Most of the hemp leaves are at the upper end of the plant. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, have small, spread-out branches. The plant shape is one of the most convenient ways to tell both apart.

Leaf Shape

HempThe shape of the leaf can also help you distinguish between hemp and marijuana. Hemp leaves are usually thin and long with pointy ends. On the other hand, the leaves of the marijuana plant are typically thick and with more round tips. It is worth mentioning that marijuana comes in both indica and sativa varieties. 

The latter has thinner leaves with pointy tips. Therefore, the leaf shape method is unreliable as it can not effectively distinguish between hemp leaves and sativa marijuana leaves.

Bud Color

When distinguishing between hemp buds and marijuana buds, try to look for the different color shades in the buds. Both hemp and marijuana buds are usually green in color, with varying shades of red and purple mixed in between. If the purple and red shade is darker, you probably have marijuana buds. However, if these shades are lighter, it could be the hemp buds. This color difference is negligible and sometimes confuses the best weed experts. Therefore, you should not rely on this method too much to identify buds.

Presence of Trichomes

Trichomes are the small white crystalline hair-like structures present on cannabis buds. These are very small and are not easily visible to the naked eye. Trichomes indicate the presence of CBD compounds. Therefore, if your buds have lots of trichomes on them, it implies that they contain large amounts of CBD. Therefore, such buds are considered hemp buds. If very few trichomes are present on the buds, it indicates low CBD content. Therefore, these buds are considered marijuana buds.

Look for the Manufacturers’ Label

If you purchase buds from a local shop, you have to look at the product’s packaging label. Most products come with labels mentioning whether the buds are hemp or marijuana buds. 

Most manufacturers mention the chemical composition of their products on the product label. If the label says less than 0.3% THC, you have hemp buds. However, if the label mentions more than 0.3% THC, then you have marijuana buds.

So far, this is the easiest way to get the buds you want without any hassle.

Ask the Provider


If you cannot identify your buds with the aforementioned techniques, you should ask an expert. People who work at weed shops or a dispensary can also help you in this regard. These people are experts in weed-related products. Moreover, they deal with different weed buds daily, so they know how to distinguish the two. 

Asking an expert to identify your buds for you will surely give you a correct answer. Moreover, an expert can provide more information about your buds, like their potency, flavor, effects, etc.

Send Buds for Chemical Analysis

If none of the above-mentioned methods work for you, you can send your buds to a chemical testing lab. The good thing about this is that a chemical test will remove any uncertainty about the identity of the buds. These labs run multiple tests to ensure the type of buds. Therefore, you will get a satisfactory answer. Generally, these labs analyze the presence of THC in the sample to give you a definitive answer. One downside of this method is that it can be time-consuming as lab reports can take several days. However, if you are not in a hurry, then you should consider this option.


Hemp buds and marijuana buds look and feel very similar, and it is not easy to tell the difference between them. While a chemical analysis test is the only way to distinguish between them, there are some other unconventional methods. In this article, we went over some of the ways to identify hemp buds from marijuana buds. These methods include checking the color shades of the buds, the shape of the plant, and the presence of trichomes on the plant, along with many others. 

If you have some buds that you need to identify, use some of the techniques mentioned above to figure the answer out, as it will save you a lot of time. Some of these methods are more or less reliable than others; therefore, a chemical analysis test should be your priority for identifying the buds if time is not a constraint for you.

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