Though Hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD extracts are from the same plant species, there is a distinct difference between them. As a user of marijuana products, differentiating between CBD derived from hemp vs. cannabis CBD is vital.

Gaining this knowledge will give you an upper hand in making an informed decision in picking a suitable marijuana product for whichever use you prefer–be it recreational or medical.

What is CBD?

CBD, an acronym for Cannabidiol, and has been a massive sensation in the medical field, more so after the 2018 farm bill. The bill led to the legalization of cannabis products that adhere to specific standards, like having less than 0.3% THC levels.

This move by the government has seen tremendous interest parties hop on the bandwagon of developing CBD products. This, however, has been a significant cause for concern by the FDA, as unregulated products hit the market.

How then would you be able to differentiate CBD oil extracted from cannabis or derived from hemp?

To get a comprehensive understanding of both cannabis and hemp, we’ll look at each one and compare and contrast their differences and similarities. This way the next time you’ve to engage in a discussion about hemp CBD vs cannabis CBD, you will have no qualms about getting any facts wrong.

Cannabis CBD

The plant species Cannabis Sativa boasts over 540 phytochemicals, with the two primary compounds being THC and CBD. Cannabis is classified into three main strains; Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Ruderalis, and Hybrid (a blend of the pure strains).

Hemp CBD

The hemp plant is an industrial plant grown for industrial use, and it’s from the Cannabis Sativa strain. The usage of hemp is to make industrial and commercial products including, insulation, paper, biofuel, rope, clothing, textile, etc.

The Main Difference Between Hemp-Derived CBD Vs. Cannabis CBD oil

The four main differences that characterize the two types of CBD oil are;

  1. Concentration Levels.
  2. The ratio percentage of THC: CBD in CBD oil extract.
  3. Growing Conditions.
  4. Legal Ramifications
Hemp Oil vs Cannabis Oil Infograhpic - Upgrade - Version 2.0

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Concentration Level of CBD In Hemp vs. Cannabis CBD

Besides being the family of the cannabis Sativa plant, their CBD levels vary, with the hemp plant containing 3-5% of CBD while the cannabis plant is known to have between 18-20% of CBD content.

Though there are other hemp strains with higher CBD content, essentially, more hemp plants are needed to measure up to the CBD oil extract from the cannabis plant.

This is further influenced by the resin content available in both the hemp and cannabis plant. The resin gland head dictates the differentiating factor in either the cannabis or hemp plant.

The finding on research conducted on a high-THC sample of medical marijuana and industrial hemp with low-THC saw that there the correlation between the resing gland size is proportional to resin content.

It was evident that the high-THC marijuana resin gland was four times larger than industrial hemp. It’s also keen to note that the components that contain resin glands are trichomes.

These are the hairs around the plant’s surface which are also present in cannabis buds, leaves, flowers, and stems. These glandular trichomes produce terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids.

These compounds are essential in realizing the entourage effects one gets from cannabis. The hemp plant structure –that is, thin, tall, and with narrow leaves will lender it to have fewer trichomes that may be critical in attaining high resin content, which in turn leads to low CBD levels.

CBD Content Percentage

The percentage quantity of CBD in either the hemp or marijuana plant gives a clear indication of its capability to have medicinal value. The low CBD content found in the hemp plants isn’t accumulative enough to bring about any therapeutic or psychoactive effect to medically offer relief.

Cannabis CBD, on the other hand, has CBD content that’s up to 20%, which is the capped percentage for a patient to get the full benefits of CBD, especially for medical use. It’s also important to note that for CBD content from marijuana to be labeled as CBD oil, it must have less than 0.3% THC levels.

The effects of THC from the cannabis plant are the main reason why the drug has to be regulated, monitored, and given in prescribed doses. At the same time, this is unlikely in the case of CBD derived from hemp.

This makes hemp-derived CBD available almost everywhere because it’s considered a vitamin supplement. As a patient, you can get either get isolate CBD products, full-spectrum CBD oil, whole-plant CBD oil, or Broad Spectrum CBD oil.

These CBD products can be extracted from either hemp or cannabis plants. A clinical study on the efficacy of the different extracts of CBD oil indicates that a full-spectrum CBD oil is more effective.

The Hemp And Marijuana Growing Conditions

Besides their physical appearance and maturity, vital factors like pest resistance and what they are harvested for are essential in determining where and how cannabis and hemp plants are grown.

Because cannabis is grown mainly for THC, which is highly concentrated on their flowers–the male plants have to be uprooted from the female to prevent fertilization.

The fertilization of the female plants may lower the THC concentration. While in cannabis plants, females are separated from males, it’s the opposite for hemp plants.

Since industrial hemp plants are grown for several reasons, including oil from their seeds, the male and female plants are grown closely together to boost seed production through wind pollination.

Unlike hemp, monitoring the humidity conditions, temperature, and lighting is essential as cannabis requires much care. To closely monitor these conditions, cannabis plants have to be grown indoors.

The opposite is true for hemp plants–these plants grow as high as 18 feet. Their stalks are mainly used for fibers, and to maximize their height; it’s more efficient to grow them outside.

And to top it off, they are also pest resistant and thrive well under natural conditions. Unlike marijuana plants which typically take approximately 3-5 months before they’re ready for harvesting, hemp is fast-growing and can be harvested a couple of times in a season.

Hemp vs. Marijuana chart Legal Ramifications Of Using Either Cannabis Or Hemp CBD

As stated earlier, the 2018 firm bill opened a pandora box for the explosion of CBD products in the market, giving the FDA a hefty task in curbing unregulated products.

FDA seeks to inform consumers that they are still crafting a framework for regulating CBD products. And besides the high number of CBD products claiming to have medicinal value, they are not approved by FDA and are thus illegal.

It’s prudent to conform within the legalities of the usage of medical marijuana to avoid having to break the law. As of May 2021, 36 US states have legalized the use of medical cannabis.

Key Similarities in Hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD

Extracted from the same plant species, hemp and cannabis CBD have some similarities that make it rather hard to distinguish between them.

  1. They are both have phytoremediation and hyper-accumulatory capabilities.
  2. They have similar molecular structures.

CBD oil Purity

The CBD quality level is dependant on the plant’s capability of excreting chemicals as fast as they are absorbed. Both the cannabis and hemp plants are bioaccumulators.

This means that it’s able to absorb substances around it, either beneficial or harmful, e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, and any other chemicals, and it’s unable to expel them.

These impurities can be passed on to the final extract leading to a compromise, primarily if the cannabis or hemp plant is grown in contaminated conditions. So take extra precautions while sourcing your CBD oil from countries with no agriculture regulation.

To get a clear indication of the purity of the CBD oil you source, ensure you pick one that has undergone third-party testing. It’s imperative for anyone cultivating hemp or cannabis to ensure that it’s grown on organic conditions to maintain the efficacy and safety of the CBD products.

Considering that the marijuana plant is preferred to be grown in an indoor monitored environment, it would mean that the purity levels of cannabis-derived CBD could be higher than that of hemp-derived CBD products.

Molecular Structure

Besides that, many differences associated with CBD, from legal, appearance, growth duration, height, harvesting parts to THC and CBD content–one of the things that ties them together is their molecular structure.

The molecular structure of a plant translates to the arrangement of the atoms, which are three-dimensional to form a molecule. Different aspects dictate each atom’s position: bond angles, bond strength, torsional angles, etc.

Though the molecular structure is the same, the THC and CBD chemical structures are different.

Takeaway On Hemp CBD Vs. Cannabis CBD

Suppose a grower follows the necessarily regulatory requirement. In that case, there is no difference between hemp-derived CBD and CBD from cannabis plants, as both products are required to contain 0.3% THC levels.

However, you’ll need to do thorough research before settling on the CBD product of your choice, as the FDA reiterates that several products don’t meet the required labeled CBD quantity.

The capped percentage for CBD to be effective is 20%, but only half of the samples investigated by the FDA meet this requirement, which raises an eyebrow at the benefits of CBD products for health issues.

Having a clear understanding between hemp CBD Vs. Cannabis CBD is essential, but that shouldn’t give you the leeway to try it out. You should, therefore, consult a professional health practitioner to get reliable advice on a suitable CBD product.

Author: Ashley Stephan

Wordsmith. Writing about health in general and medicinal cannabis in particular at and elsewhere. Hobbies: swimming, gardening, and binge-watching popular TV shows.