Another question I get on an almost daily basis is “what’s the difference between CBD from hemp and CBD from marijuana?” Hemp and marijuana are both Cannabis plants, the difference comes down to the THC concentration; hemp must have less than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis, while marijuana has no such restrictions. While that may seem really simple--hemp has lower THC than marijuana--there’s more to it than that. Hemp is generally grown for one of three purposes: extraction (high CBD, low THC varieties), fiber (rope, cloth, paper, building materials), and seeds (hemp oil for cooking, hemp seed products). So, while the simple answer may be “there is no difference between hemp and marijuana derived CBD, the full answer is more complicated.
So, what’s the difference between a high CBD hemp, and marijuana? The CBD concentration and how the plant and products are legally defined by state and federal government. Marijuana was historically grown to maximize flower yield and THC percent, both factors that increase profits in the marijuana black market. This means that most marijuana varieties have higher THC percentages and lower CBD percentages--generally under 3% CBD, though higher CBD varieties exist in some markets. Hemp, on the other hand, can easily have CBD levels over 5%, and 15% isn’t uncommon if the right strains and growing conditions are selected. This means that generally CBD is easier to extract in higher volumes from hemp than marijuana.
What about the “entourage effect” I’ve heard so much about? The entourage effect refers to the holistic healing properties of Cannabis and cannabinoids, and suggests that greater medical benefits can be had by using CBD that also contains some level of THC, CBN, CBC, CBG, as well as THCv, THCa, CBDv, and CBDa. While higher concentrations of those other cannabinoids can oftentimes be found in marijuana products than hemp products, those marijuana products are federally illegal, cannot be transported across state lines, can lead to failing a drug test, and carry inherent legal risks with their use. A full-spectrum hemp oil, on the other hand, will include many of those same cannabinoids, while not carrying the same legal risks with their use.
Chemically speaking, the CBD molecule is the exact same molecule whether it is marijuana or hemp derived, the issue is what the you have access to and your personal risk calculations. At the end of the day, CBD is the same regardless of where it comes from, however, hemp CBD is generally cheaper, more readily available, contains lower levels of THC and won’t get you high, and if the proper CBD source is selected (see previous post about Isolate vs. Full Spectrum oil HERE) every bit as effective as its marijuana derived counterpart.
One of the questions that I get asked frequently is “what makes full spectrum CBD better than CBD Isolate?” CBD is a pretty simple molecule, so they should all be the same right? Not so fast.
CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like, CBD that has been separated from everything else in the plant with a solvent. The end result is a product that’s around 99% pure CBD, and looks a bit like table salt (small whitish crystals). CBD companies like isolate because it is plentiful on the market, and developing formulations with it is really easy, customers like isolate because they know that it has zero THC in it.
Full spectrum oils can be extracted in the same way as isolate, or with a number of other solvents to strip the cannabinoids (like CBD) off the plant matter. The main difference is what else is in the extract. Full spectrum oils contain all the cannabinoids present in the plant--CBN, CBG, CBD, CBC, and yes, THC (though in levels far too low to get you high)--as well as all of the terpenes and terpenoids (the taste and smell). This means that you have access to the medical benefits of all of these compounds, not just the CBD.
How much does it matter whether I use isolate or full spectrum CBD? Research has shown that CBD isolate has lower effectiveness than full spectrum oils. This doesn’t mean that if you have a bottle of tincture sitting at home that was made with isolate that you should take it, CBD isolate is still a powerful molecule. Instead it simply means that it may not be as efficient or effective as a full spectrum oil.
The easiest way to think about it is that isolate is a vitamin C tablet, while full spectrum oil is eating a large orange. So the next time you go out to buy a CBD product, take a look at the source of the CBD, because you may not be getting everything you should be getting.
Here at Keen CBD we believe in helping people, the planet, and society at large. With that as our driving energy, we are proud to announce #CBDHelpsMe. #CBDHelpsMe is about standing up and telling the world that Cannabis Sativa is not an evil plant, that people from all walks of life receive benefits from using it, and that cannabidiol (CBD) can and does help people every single day.
Derek, one of the founders of Keen CBD has been an avid user of CBD since 2012 when a catastrophic injury led to two broken arms and an extended stay in a hospital. Now five and a half years on, Derek still uses CBD every single day to combat the chronic pain and stiffness in his joints and ensure that his old injury isn't what holds him back. Topical CBD treatments keep his shoulder and elbow from tightening up and has gotten Derek back into rock climbing, an activity his doctors assured him he would never do again.
We want our customers and all users of cannabinoids to be willing to stand up, without judgement, and proclaim that they benefit from this beautiful plant. If you feel the same way, please feel free to use the #cbdhelpsme hashtag across social media, and together we can help to normalize CBD, hemp, and cannabis at large.