Explaining the difference between hemp and marijuana can be a hard nut to crack, especially to first-time consumers.
The CBD industry is a quite independent market, but it’s still closely related to the cannabis industry, including its controversial reputation and unclear legal status across the world.
CBD oil derived from hemp is federally legal in the US and in over 40 countries, whereas marijuana remains illegal in most places, with Canada, Uruguay, and several recreational states as exceptions.
So, what’s the difference between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD? Why is one plant legal while the other can get you a few years of not-so-cozy time in prison if you’re caught with it in the wrong place?
We explain everything in this guide.
Enjoy the ride!
Is Hemp the Same as Marijuana? Short Answer: No
Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant family, but they are anything but similar.
However, since you’re here, we guess you want to learn a little more than that.
“Will CBD from hemp get me high?”
“Is CBD Oil the same as hemp oil?”
“Can I overdose on CBD?”
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg.
In order to understand the difference between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD, you need to make sure that you know the meaning of the basic terms from the cannabis vocabulary.
Breaking Down the Basic Cannabis Terms
In this section, we’ll get a few definitions out of the way. Frankly, if you get a good grasp of these terms, you’ll find it a lot easier to distinguish between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD.
Cannabis is an umbrella term for the plant family native to Central Asia — precisely Cannabis sativa L. — that covers both hemp and marijuana. Most often people use words “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably, which isn’t quite accurate.
Think about this distinction in a similar way to rectangles and squares. All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.
By the same token, every marijuana and hemp plant is cannabis, but not every cannabis is hemp or marijuana.
Cannabis plants are widely cultivated for seeds, oils, leaves, juices, flowers, fibers, and more.
Marijuana CBD Oil
Marijuana is a type of cannabis abundant in different strains. Grown for thousands of years by the greatest civilizations, with documented uses dating as far back as ancient China, marijuana contains hundreds of natural chemicals, 113 of which have been identified as unique to the cannabis plant.
These substances — including both THC and CBD — are called cannabinoids. Unlike hemp, marijuana is known for its high THC content, ranging between 15%–30%. Hemp, on the other hand, is low in THC (usually below 0.3% of dry mass) and high in CBD.
THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana flowers, responsible for the high that you experience after inhaling or ingesting weed. Although marijuana is typically low in CBD, some strains can have higher concentrations of this compound. The CBD content from marijuana can vary from 0.1%–25%.
Cannabidiol extracted from marijuana plant is referred to as “CBD marijuana” or “CBD weed.” Most commonly, people talk about marijuana CBD extracts as “cannabis oil.”
CBD Hemp Oil
CBD hemp oil comes from the mature flowers of hemp, a subspecies of the Cannabis sativa plant. Often confused with “hemp oil” or “hemp seed oil”, CBD hemp oil contains high concentrations of CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids, including traces of THC (less than 0.3%).
CBD hemp oil is extracted using a solvent — most reputable companies use pressurized CO2 as a solvent in order to produce potent extracts that are also free of toxic solvent residue.
Hemp-derived CBD products are considered health supplements, so you can buy them over the counter in head shops, drug stores, dispensaries, and even supermarkets.
Hemp Oil (a.k.a. Hemp Seed Oil)
As the name suggests, this oil is sourced from the seeds of hemp plants, which are void of cannabinoids, so it doesn’t provide the same benefits as CBD hemp oil.
Instead, hemp seeds are considered a superfood thanks to their high content of essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins, and trace minerals.
Unlike CBD hemp oil, hemp seed oil is obtained via cold-pressed extraction, similar to olive oil and grapeseed oil.
Legal Status of CBD Oil: Is CBD Legal in My State?
This is where our road starts to get bumpy.
To understand the legality behind various forms of CBD oil, we must get one thing straight: can CBD oil from hemp get you high?
Why is it so important?
Because most laws regarding drug use in the United States are based on whether or not a compound is psychoactive (with some exceptions, of course).
To answer the question, CBD from hemp cannot get you high.
This makes it legal in all 50 states.
Before 2018, hemp was legal only for industrial and research purposes under special pilot programs. But with the passage of the new Farm Bill, the federal government removed hemp from the Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, classifying it as an agricultural crop.
When it comes to the laws governing CBD derived from marijuana, these vary from state to state. Currently, 11 states have legalized it for recreational purposes and 33 states have some sort of a medical marijuana program.
Hemp-derived CBD products are widely available in different forms, both locally and online. This makes them an excellent starting point for anyone interested in the benefits of CBD — both legally and without getting high.
More Than Meets the Eye: Explaining Compositional Differences Between CBD Oil from Hemp and Marijuana
We’ve already covered the basic definitions and critical differences in the legality of CBD from hemp and CBD from marijuana.
Now, let’s discuss the differences on the biological level.
In essence, CBD is CBD regardless of the source. If you isolate CBD from all the other cannabinoids, it doesn’t matter whether it comes from hemp or marijuana.
However, most extracts contain the full-spectrum of cannabinoids, meaning you get an entire cannabinoid profile of the strain that was used for extraction.
CBD oil from hemp is abundant in CBD and very low in THC. Naturally, hemp plants strive to achieve at least 1% THC, but this content is “watered down” by breeders to meet the legal limits. The allowed percentage of THC may vary from country to country, but in the US, all plants containing less than 0.3% of THC are classified as hemp.
Marijuana, on the other hand, has high levels of THC (5%–35%) and is usually low in CBD, although some strains can have high levels of cannabidiol. CBD oil derived from high-CBD marijuana strains will also carry a significant amount of THC. Such products are psychoactive and thus subject to different regulations.
Many people believe that CBD oil from marijuana is more potent than its hemp-derived counterpart. That’s because CBD and THC produce synergistic effects that enhance the therapeutic effects of one another — a concept commonly known as “the entourage effect” or “whole-plant synergy.”
Nevertheless, CBD oil from hemp has a well-documented list of health benefits that can be used to alleviate a wide range of symptoms and improve the overall quality of one’s life.
Hemp for Health: What do People Use CBD Oil For?
Now that we’ve explained the difference between hemp and marijuana, what is CBD hemp oil good for?
CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), the most important neurochemical network in the body. The ECS controls the majority of vital processes, including memory, mood, cognitive performance, immune function, pain signaling, stress response, appetite, fertility, and more.
By modulating the cannabinoid receptors, CBD regulates the functioning of the ECS, keeping the body in a state of neurochemical balance also known as homeostasis.
That’s why CBD can help with so many health concerns. Let’s see what people typically use CBD oil for.
CBD Oil for Anxiety and Depression
18% of Americans suffer from anxiety disorders and depression. CBD interacts with the body in a similar way to common anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs — but without having to constantly increase doses, without negative side effects, and without the “brain fog” usually experienced by patients starting a conventional treatment plan.
On top of that, CBD affects the GABA receptors in the nervous system, slowing it down when we get hyperactive. This can lead to fewer racing thoughts and a better reaction to environmental stimuli.
CBD Oil for Chronic Pain
The interaction between CBD and the endocannabinoid system reduces the firing of nerve synapses that trigger the sensation of pain.
In addition, CBD can indirectly act on different pathways responsible for pain transmission, including opioid receptors and vanilloid receptors.
CBD is also a potent anti-inflammatory compound; it’s widely used by those recovering from injuries and surgeries, patients with lupus and arthritis and other chronic pain disorders.
But the best part about using CBD oil for pain is that it’s not addictive and doesn’t cause harmful side effects associated with commonly prescribed drugs.
CBD Oil for Digestive Issues
CBD has shown promise in alleviating a wide range of digestive disorders, such as IBS, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, type 1 diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. Again, the lion’s share of the above benefits is linked to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.
CBD Oil for Epilepsy
Human studies have shown that CBD is able to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy. The research comes from both childhood-onset and adult epilepsy patients. In 2018, the FDA approved the first CBD-based anti-seizure medication, Epidiolex, after extensive clinical trials.
CBD Oil for Overall Mental Wellness
Balance is paramount for our bodies to function properly. We often seek this balance in traditional supplements, practices such as meditation and yoga, and through wise nutritional choices.
However, this balance can be easily compromised, especially in the fast-paced era we live in. We’re simply exposed to too much environmental stimuli on a daily basis, ending up overstimulated and unable to think clearly. CBD has the ability to regulate our neurotransmitters, slowing down hyperactivity, and turning up hypoactivity.
This feature makes CBD particularly beneficial for those seeking relief from mood swings, attention deficits, lethargy, and recurring anxiety.
How to Find High-Quality CBD Oil for Sale
Once you decide which CBD oil is right for you, there’s one last thing to keep in mind before buying any CBD product.
Not all CBD oils are created equally.
The quality of CBD oil — and whether it contains a legal amount of THC — depends on the grower, the manufacturer, the production process, and third-party testing in laboratories.
Getting your CBD from a reputable manufacturer that tests its products for potency and purity will help you avoid the poor experience some people report from using cheap and untested products.
Take the time to learn about proper farming practices, extraction methods, and other industry standards that companies should employ for their CBD oil. Research your potential vendor cover to cover according to what you learned.
From there, read reviews from other customers. It’s quite normal that any product out there will have a negative review or two, but if you notice a pattern, it might be a warning sign.
You can find CBD oil from hemp both locally and online. The majority of CBD stuff is sold at online stores — their product lineup is usually more diverse than what you can find in a local dispensary.
Not to mention that online vendors offer better price deals than dispensaries, especially on bulk orders.
Hemp CBD vs Marijuana CBD: Are You Sure You Know the Difference?
We’re not going to test you on that, but let’s have one last roundup of what you’ve learned in this article.
- Cannabis is an umbrella term describing both hemp and marijuana plants.
- Despite belonging to the same plant family, hemp and marijuana are two different subspecies.
- Hemp is high and CBD and low in THC — at 0.3% of THC per dry mass, hemp won’t produce any intoxicating effects.
- Marijuana is high in THC and may have varying levels of CBD depending on the strain. It can get you high on top of providing a range of health benefits.
- Given the above, CBD oil can be sourced from both hemp and marijuana.
- Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in all 50 states.
- The legality of marijuana depends on in-state regulations. However, it’s still considered a Schedule I drug on the federal level.
- You don’t need a prescription to buy CBD oil from hemp — you can buy it locally over the counter and from online vendors.
- Hemp seed oil isn’t the same as CBD hemp oil — it comes from the seeds, not the flowers, so it doesn’t contain any cannabinoids. Instead, hemp seed oil is full of beneficial nutrients, such as healthy fatty acids, vitamins, and trace minerals.
- High-quality CBD oil is sourced from organic hemp plants, extracted with CO2, and tested for potency and purity in 3rd-party laboratories.
If you have more questions about the source of your CBD oil, feel free to post them in the comment section below!