According to federal law, cannabis—with 0.3% THC content or higher—is classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use. CBD products sourced from cannabis, even those with 0% THC, are illegal at a federal level by virtue of their plant origin.
Here’s the tricky thing: Both cannabis and hemp produce CBD. The CBD molecule is identical regardless of its cannabis source.
Hemp-derived CBD and cannabis-derived CBD: A legal perspective
However, at a state level, the law changes. There are 33 US states which have medical cannabis programs, and CBD derived from cannabis is available from a licensed dispensary to eligible patients. The recreational use of cannabis is also legal in 11 states. In these states, cannabis-derived CBD products are available to those of age.
Cannabis represents a richer source of cannabinoids and terpenes than industrial hemp because it contains significantly more resin . Resin is the sticky, gooey substance found on female cannabis flowers, and to a lesser extent, on its leaves. Hemp contains resin on the flowers and leaves too, but much less. Most industrial hemp cultivators need to grow large quantities of hemp to produce CBD oil, although there are now more CBD-rich hemp strains being cultivated.
Cannabis tends to have a wider terpene and cannabinoid profile than hemp. Cannabis-derived CBD from whole plant extract contains a range of beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids, including THC. These compounds work in concert with each other to provide additional benefits. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect, and many cannabis experts assert that whole plant extracts offer greater therapeutic potential .
1. What are cannabis and marijuana?
A. No. There are no other FDA-approved drug products that contain CBD. We are aware that some firms are marketing CBD products to treat diseases or for other therapeutic uses , and we have issued several warning letters to such firms. Under the FD&C Act, any product intended to have a therapeutic or medical use, and any product (other than a food) that is intended to affect the structure or function of the body of humans or animals, is a drug. Drugs must generally either receive premarket approval by FDA through the New Drug Application (NDA) process or conform to a “monograph” for a particular drug category, as established by FDA’s Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Review. CBD was not an ingredient considered under the OTC drug review. An unapproved new drug cannot be distributed or sold in interstate commerce.
A. The FDA has sent warning letters in the past to companies illegally selling CBD products that claimed to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure serious diseases, such as cancer. Some of these products were in further violation of the FD&C Act because they were marketed as dietary supplements or because they involved the addition of CBD to food.
23. What should I do if my child eats something containing cannabis?
A. The FDA is aware that there are potential adverse health effects with use of cannabis products containing THC in pregnant or lactating women. Published scientific literature reports potential adverse effects of cannabis use in pregnant women, including fetal growth restriction, low birth weight, preterm birth, small-for-gestational age, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission, and stillbirth. [1, 2, 3] Based on published animal research, there are also concerns that use of cannabis during pregnancy may negatively impact fetal brain development. [4, 5, 6 ] The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue cannabis use. In addition, ACOG notes that there are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of cannabis use on breastfed infants; therefore, cannabis use is discouraged when breastfeeding.  Pregnant and lactating women should talk with a health care provider about the potential adverse health effects of cannabis use.
-Can provide real relief via the benefits of CBD and THC
“CBD is CBD. The human body does not care where the molecule comes from.”
Transcribed from an email response from Mary’s Medicinals by Graham Sorkin.
This tells us that while the term “medical marijuana” is commonly used by the public, the term “medical cannabis” is more broadly understood in the scientific community to encompass any cannabis plant (marijuana or hemp) used for medicinal purposes. With this in mind, a clear answer to the differences between hemp- and marijuana-derived CBD seemed less clear. Turning to experts again, we asked Franjo Grotenhermen about the differences between the two:
Given the information above, we can conclude that the CBD quality is the same whether you are using a hemp or marijuana plant, and the only real difference is the addition of THC from marijuana. So the question should not be which one is better, but what will be best for you and your lifestyle? In addition, legality within the state and country you live must be taken into consideration.
-Is legal in all 50 states
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