The Difference Between CBD from Hemp and CBD from Marijuana

Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash

We have to admit, our States and Federal governments have done a great job of making this entire issue quite milky.  While we always recommend contacting your local authorities for the best clarification to keep yourself fully legal, we will try to clear this issue up for you.

Starting with the basics, Hemp and Marijuana are from the same family of plants  –  Cannabis.  While both are from the Cannabis family, they are still legally considered different plants.  And, they have one key characteristic difference….their naturally occurring level of THC, the compound that makes someone feel “high”.  Hemp has THC levels naturally below 0.3%.  Marijuana has THC levels above this level, which is why marijuana can make you feel high if smoked or ingested.  Hemp’s THC level below 0.3% is not enough to make someone feel high.

Here’s what you what to remember, so far:

  • Hemp is naturally low in THC, but high in CBD (aka cannabidiol)
  • Marijuana is naturally high in THC, but low in CBD

All kinds of cross breeding can occur to create different strains, but generally speaking, the above is what happens naturally.

So, before all the cross breeding began, people typically wanted hemp when they wanted CBD.  And, they wanted marijuana when they wanted THC, to get high.

Okay, we know that THC makes people high.  But, what does CBD do?

The FDA won’t let us make any health claims as to what CBD might do for people, but we CAN say that if you search a few sites online, you’ll find many people swearing by CBD to help them with their fibromyalgia, arthritis, insomnia, PTSD, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, general aches and pains, inflammation, anxiety, symptoms of autism and so much more.

So, here’s what you need to know about CBD and our bodies.  Our bodies (as well as most animals) have an endocannabinoid system.  This system is many things but the key point is that this system has receptors throughout our body that do nothing but take in available CBD, then “process” the CBD into where/what is needed.  That’s right.  Our bodies were made to receive CBD!  I can’t necessarily say our bodies need it.  But, it sure seems to reason that if we have CBD-receptors in our body, our body must be expecting to get CBD.  Cannabidiol, or CBD, only comes from Cannabis plants.

Okay, so what’s the difference between CBD from Hemp and CBD from Marijuana?

Regardless of which plant the CBD comes from, the molecules are the same exact substance.  And, your body cannot tell any difference.

So, why does it matter which plant you get CBD from?

For the most part, the reason is that you want to stay legal.  While many states have legalized marijuana in some form (some allow it’s use fully, some allow it for medical purposes only and require a prescription, some allow it only in some forms), the US federal government has not legalized it, but rather to date, has decided to turn it’s head away from the issue.  So, while they may not choose to make it an issue today, the future could always be a different situation.  Most people don’t want the headache of wondering if they’re breaking the law and if they might get caught.

The other big issue is that most high quality brands of CBD products don’t just put CBD in their products.  Rather, they use the complete extract removed from the plant.  This extract has ALL the naturally occurring compounds found in the particular plant.  These compounds typically include varying levels of CBD and THC, but also other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBDa and so on.

Remember that marijuana has typically been cultivated to produce high levels of THC; most growers didn’t care about the rest of the profile of cannabinoids.  But, hemp has been cultivated recently to have a very rich cannabinoid profile.  So, while there is no cut and dry answer to what compounds are available in any given plant, typically hemp provides a high level of CBD and some presence of the other cannabinoids while marijuana will typically have a high level of THC and some presence of other cannabinoids, including a small amount of CBD.

So, what does all this mean?

For those people

  • who don’t want to have to become a chemist to figure out what compounds are in a given product
  • who want to stay legal
  • who don’t want to get high

it is easiest to purchase CBD products that utilize hemp extract rather than the extract from marijuana.


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