CBD from Hemp or Cannabis?
Both cannabis and hemp originate from the same species of cannabis sativa, have seven-fingered leaves and can produce comparable products. But you’ll need to go much deeper to find fundamental differences between the two plants. Let’s describe four of them.
1. Chemical difference
Primarily, there’s a chemical difference: Each plant is cultivated to focus on a different ratio of active compounds—called “cannabinoids.” Cannabis growers are interested in flower with high amounts of THC and terpenes, along with a mix of other cannabinoids (including CBD). This broad spectrum of compounds works together, in a process known as the “entourage effect,” to produce the best results for the body’s endocannabinoid receptors.
Growers of industrial hemp plants want flower with high amounts of CBD and almost no THC. By the way, industrial uses of hemp include food additives from the seeds, as well as paper and fiber processed from the stalk, and CBD and THC don’t matter.
2. Legal difference
Next, there’s a legal difference: Federal laws treat cannabis completely different from hemp. Regulated under the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis remains illegal to grow in the eyes of the federal government and in some states, while many other states tightly control the cultivation process for medical and/or recreational consumers. That’s because cannabis contains THC, which is a Schedule I controlled substance. Cannabis might contain as much as 30% THC by dry weight, with lesser amounts of CBD and other cannabinoids.
But as a result of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp is legal to grow in all states, as long as the plant doesn’t contain more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. There’s no limit to the amount of CBD that hemp can contain, although most plants have about 20-25%.
3. Cultivation difference
Also, there’s a cultivation difference: The conditions needed to grow cannabis are different from those needed to grow hemp.
Cannabis is often grown indoors, with just the right cycle of lighting, temperature, airflow and humidity controls to produce the optimum quantity of flower in about three months. Because of its broad branch structure, each plant is kept a certain distance apart from each other so that one plant can’t interfere with another plant’s growth.
Hemp is usually grown outdoors or in a greenhouse, with fewer environmental controls required because it’s a much hardier plant. Since hemp plants grow thinner and taller (15-20 feet high vs. 5-8 feet high for cannabis), they can grow closer together.
4. Consumer experience difference
Finally, there’s a consumer experience difference: Cannabis and hemp products are developed to provide their own unique effects. However, these products have not been approved by the FDA as dietary supplements, and manufacturers and sellers can’t make claims about their medical effectiveness.
Cannabis produces a wide variety of products rich with THC and/or CBD and other cannabinoids designed to provide a complete physical and/or psychological experience. Cannabis is being used by consumers to help relieve conditions such as lack of appetite, glaucoma, pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and PTSD, as well as for recreational purposes in some states. But as with hemp-based products, there are few conclusive scientific studies about the medical effectiveness of cannabis-based products.
Most CBD oil on the market today is extracted from the hemp flower. A broad-spectrum hemp oil might contain other cannabinoids (except for THC), while an isolate0 oil contains only CBD. When you take CBD, regardless of delivery method—vaping, tinctures, topicals, edibles, etc.—you expect a targeted result for a certain condition, whether you want to use CBD for pain, anxiety, insomnia or other condition. You don’t want to experience the psychoactive effects that THC would provide.
Now that you know the difference between the two plants, you’ll hopefully be able to make a more informed purchasing decision based on your needs. For example, when shopping for CBD, find out whether the product comes from hemp or cannabis. Furnished with that information, you’ll know what effects to experience.