How can we identify hemp buds?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How can we identify hemp buds?” We will also discuss the different physical and chemical characteristics of hemp that differentiates it from marijuana.

How can we identify hemp buds?

We can identify hemp buds by examining their physical characteristics and chemical composition. Identification of hemp buds is very important because most people confuse it with marijuana, which also has some similar physical attributes. However, there both have some features that separate them from each other.

Let us discuss the different physical and chemical factors that can help us identify hemp buds:

Physical characteristics 

Search for a light shade of red or purple buds

To find hemp buds, search for a light shade of red or purple. The main reason people confuse hemp with marijuana is that both hemp buds and marijuana buds are mostly green. However, hemp buds frequently have a crimson or light purple tone to them, so you can identify them by their shade.

Marijuana buds that are dark purple are more likely to be marijuana. While it is difficult to tell the difference between marijuana and hemp buds purely on physical traits, you will at least have some idea about it. To be completely sure, you should go for a chemical composition test.

Examine the buds to see if they possess little, crystalline hairs

Trichomes are microscopic crystalline hairs that grow around the edges of cannabis flowers. Most of the time, you can see them with your naked eye but you’ll need a magnifying glass to see them up close and be sure of it. Lots of trichomes and a frosty appearance on the buds indicate that it is a hemp bud.

Look for slender leaves on the cannabis plant

You can also identify hemp by examining its leaves. While the normal marijuana leaves have 5 to 9 clustered leaflets, hemp also has a similar leaf structure but is skinnier. Only look for the plants where the buds have already formed. If you find a plant with thin, spindly, and serrated leaves, that is your best bet for a hemp plant.

Leaf analysis isn’t always correct as in some cases long and thin leaves might also suggest a dominant strain of marijuana.

Look for fewer branches or leaves below the plant’s crown

Marijuana plants often grow into a bush or shrub, while hemp plants mostly preserve their branches and leaves near the top third of the plant. This can be a great way to identify hemp and marijuana plant. If you see a plant whose majority of the leaves are concentrated near the top of the plant, giving a clustered look, then it has to be a hemp plant. 

Again, this might be an indication of a sativa plant, so it’s not a foolproof technique to distinguish hemp apart.

Look for plants that are roughly 20 feet (6.1 m) tall

Height can also be one of the indicators to identify hemp buds. As most marijuana plants grow into shrubs, they are considered to be short plants. The hemp plant’s height is estimated to be around 20 feet (6.1 m) due to its long stalks and deep roots. As a result, if you spot a plant with a long stalk and deep roots, this is a clear indication that it is a hemp plant.

Chemical composition 

Send the buds to a lab to be examined for chemical composition

Examining the physical attributes of the plant will help you identify the hemp buds to some extent, but if you want to be absolutely sure, checking its chemical composition is the only reliable way. Testing the THC and CBD levels of your buds will give you a clear picture if they are hemp or marijuana buds.  If they contain less than 0.3% THC, it indicates that they are hemp buds.

Determine whether the buds contain a high concentration of CBD

One of the major contrast when it comes to hemp and marijuana is the CBD concentration. You can easily identify them by checking their CBD value. Hemp buds typically have a high CBD concentration in addition to a low THC content. If the buds contain 20% or more CBD, they are most likely hemp buds. 


In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “How can we identify hemp buds?” We have also discussed the different physical and chemical characteristics of hemp that differentiates it from marijuana.


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