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.