It can be challenging to understand products that seem similar, but there are a few key differences between CBD and hemp. Read now. New York recently became the 15th U.S. state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. While 67% of U.S. adults support marijuana legalization, public knowledge about cannabis is low. A third of Americans think hemp and marijuana are the same thing, according to the National Institutes of Health, and many people still search Google to find out whether cannabidiol – a cannabis derivative known as CBD – will get them high, as marijuana does. Hemp, marijuana and CBD are all related, but they differ in significant ways.
What’s the difference between CBD and Hemp?
It can be challenging to understand products that seem similar, but there are a few key differences between CBD and hemp.
The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill allowed for farmers to grow industrial hemp. The legality of cultivating and selling hemp-derived products for commercial use brought immediate growth in the industry. Hundreds of products, such as hemp oil and CBD oil, became available to the masses. But with such a sudden surge of compounds like CBD and hemp available came confusion about the differences between the products.
First, it is important to know that CBD is actually a chemical found within the hemp plant. Comparing CBD to hemp would be like comparing milk to dairy. The two compounds come from the same plant family but they each come from different species within it.
CBD is extracted from different parts of the hemp plant, or any cannabidiol-rich cannabis strain. Before being processed, the product is then heated after being extracted in order to activate the CBD and other cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis. The result is a concentrated CBD extract, which is usually mixed in with a carrier oil and sold as CBD oil. Hemp oil, also known as hemp seed oil, is extracted from only the seeds of the hemp plant.
The main difference between CBD and hemp is the cannabinoid content. Both products come from the same plant, but hemp plants contain a significant amount of CBD, while hemp seeds do not. Since CBD is extracted from different parts of a mature plant it contains cannabinoids, so when ingested the user can feel the effects of it.
Hemp is cultivated for a number of reasons, such as for food products, skincare, and natural remedies for diseases. CBD does not have any psychoactive effects and is ideal for mental health. People often take it for its therapeutic benefits such as anxiety relief, pain management, or for its anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp plant seeds are nutritious and contain healthy fatty acids, making hemp oil ideal for its nutritional and anti-inflammatory benefits and most commonly found in supplements and skincare products.
Hemp and CBD are often words used interchangeably, and even though they come from the cannabis sativa plant and can both be used topically or ingested, it is important to know the differences before using or introducing them into your kitchen.
CBD, marijuana and hemp: What is the difference among these cannabis products, and which are legal?
This article was written in The Conversation by Trey Malone, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and extension economist at Michigan State, and Brandon McFadden, assistant professor of applied economics and statistics at the University of Delaware.
New York recently became the 15th U.S. state to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
While 67% of U.S. adults support marijuana legalization, public knowledge about cannabis is low. A third of Americans think hemp and marijuana are the same thing, according to the National Institutes of Health, and many people still search Google to find out whether cannabidiol – a cannabis derivative known as CBD – will get them high, as marijuana does.
Hemp, marijuana and CBD are all related, but they differ in significant ways. Here’s what you need to know about their legality, effects and potential health benefits.
Hemp, marijuana and cannabanoidals
Both hemp and marijuana belong to the same species, Cannabis sativa, and the two plants look somewhat similar. However, substantial variation can exist within a species. After all, great Danes and chihuahuas are both dogs, but they have obvious differences.
The defining difference between hemp and marijuana is their psychoactive component: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Hemp has 0.3% or less THC, meaning hemp-derived products don’t contain enough THC to create the “high” traditionally associated with marijuana.
CBD is a compound found in cannabis. There are hundreds of such compounds, which are termed “cannabinoids,” because they interact with receptors involved in a variety of functions like appetite, anxiety, depression and pain sensation. THC is also a cannabinoid.
Clinical research indicates that CBD is effective at treating epilepsy. Anecdotal evidence suggests it can help with pain and even anxiety – though scientifically the jury is still out on that.
Marijuana, containing both CBD and more THC than hemp, has demonstrated therapeutic benefits for people with epilepsy, nausea, glaucoma and potentially even multiple sclerosis and opioid-dependency disorder.
However, medical research on marijuana is severely restricted by federal law.
The Drug Enforcement Agency categorizes cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning it handles cannabis as if there is no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Scientists don’t know exactly how CBD works, nor how it interacts with other cannabinoids like THC to give marijuana its added therapeutic effects.
CBD comes in food, tinctures and oils, just to name a few. Here are some commonly used terms used to describe CBD products in the store.
While the terms “CBD tincture” and “CBD oil” are often used interchangeably, the two are actually different. Tinctures are made by soaking cannabis in alcohol, while oils are made by suspending CBD in a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil.
“Pure” CBD, also called “CBD isolate,” is called that because all other cannabinoids have been removed. So have terpenes and flavonoids, which give marijuana its strong aroma and earthy flavor.
“Broad spectrum” CBD typically contains at least three other cannabinoids, as well as some terpenes and flavonoids – but still no THC. “Full spectrum” CBD, also called “whole flower” CBD, is similar to broad spectrum but can contain up to 0.3% THC.
In states where recreational marijuana is legal, the list of cannabis-derived products greatly expands to include CBD with much higher THC content than 0.3%.
There is no standardized dosage of CBD. Some retailers may have enough knowledge to make a recommendation for first-timers. There are also online resources – like this dosage calculator.
Consumers concerned about content and the accuracy of CBD products, which are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, can look for certification from independent lab testing or by scanning a QR code on product packaging.
Note that CBD oil is different from hemp oil – which comes from pressing cannabis seeds, and may not contain CBD – and hempseed oil, which is a source of essential fatty acids and contains no CBD. It’s a nutritional supplement, more like fish oil than CBD oil.
Another big difference among hemp, marijuana and CBD is how the law treats them.
Though 15 states have now legalized recreational marijuana, it remains illegal federally in the United States. Technically, those in possession of marijuana in a legal weed state can still be punished under federal law, and traveling across state borders with cannabis is prohibited.
Hemp, on the other hand, was made legal to grow and sell in the United States in the 2018 Farm Bill.
One would assume, then, that hemp-derived CBD should be federally legal in every state because the THC levels don’t surpass 0.3%. But CBD occupies a legal gray area. Several states, such as Nebraska and Idaho, still essentially regulate CBD oil as a Schedule 1 substance akin to marijuana.
Our recent study found that Americans perceive hemp and CBD to be more like over-the-counter medication and THC to be more like a prescription drug. Still, the average person in the U.S. does not view hemp, CBD, THC or even marijuana in the same light as illicit substances like meth and cocaine – even though both are classified by the DEA as having a lower potential for abuse than marijuana.
The current federal prohibition of marijuana, in other words, does not align with the public’s view – though state-based legalization shows that society is moving on without the blessing of politicians on Capitol Hill. U.S. recreational marijuana retail sales may reach US$8.7 billion in 2021, up from $6.7 billion in 2016.
As interest in other cannabinoids, like cannabigerol, or CBG – which some are touting as the new CBD – continues to grow, so too grows the need for further medical research into cannabis.