Understanding the Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis CBD

 In Health

The cannabis industry is home to some of the newest trends, topics and products on the planet. Many of these themes find roots in one of the cannabis sativa plant’s primary cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD), which is presently being incorporated into everything from cosmetics and beauty products, to health foods and supplements. The buzz around this one compound has even started to trump all the attention once reserved for THC, the plant’s primary psychoactive agent.

An analgesic, anti-inflammatory and, some proponents argue, a general health product with limitless potential, CBD remains something of a mystery to many inside and outside of the cannabis industry. What is it? Where does it come from? What does it do? Where can one legally purchase it? These are just some of the many honest questions people continue to pose when thinking about incorporating CBD into their lives.

In almost every sense of the definition, the distinction between CBD derived from hemp and CBD extracted from cannabis is a legal one. Where CBD from the cannabis plant is found in varying concentrations alongside other major cannabinoids like psychoactive THC, CBD that comes from hemp is generally free of THC over a very small amount. In the United States, where cannabis is outlawed but cultivating hemp for CBD extraction is legal, all CBD products find an origin in the hemp plant.

The products that can be produced from each are somewhat dissimilar. While CBD oil and hemp oil are both low in THC, the difference in the CBD contained in each of these can be significant. While hemp oil only has trace amounts of CBD, around 3.5 percent, CBD oil can be 20 percent or even higher. For this reason, products with a hemp oil base are usually only considered health supplements, and are not often used as therapeutic or medicinal tools.1

There are a number of glaring misconceptions about the difference between CBD derived from hemp, and CBD derived from the cannabis plant. One must first remember that these are two parts of one whole; cannabis is hemp and hemp is cannabis. The lead characteristic that distinguishes one from the other is the concentrations of other cannabinoids, namely THC, which has a concentration of less than .3 percent in hemp and more than that in the conventional cannabis plant.2

In other words, cannabidiol is just that, regardless of whether its extracted from one or the other. There is a campaign a foot to convince consumers that CBD derived from cannabis is “cleaner” than CBD from the hemp plant. This is simply untrue. The presence of things like fungus and aflatoxins is the result of agricultural conditions, which can be present in both types of horticulture applications, meaning that the any cannabinoids extracted from either hemp or traditional cannabis can be affected by the environment in which it is grown.

Another key misconception that people, especially new medical patients, make about CBD and THC is that one is a medical product, while the other is strictly a recreational pastime. This is, again, simply false. CBD can no doubt be an effective counterpart to THC in the context of adult use, while THC definitely has medical applications. As one prime example, THC has been shown to inhibit an enzyme implicated in the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, which is reported to be the hallmark of dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease.3

Though CBD products have gained in popularity in recent years – with claims that the compound can help with seizures, anxiety, migraine pain and inflammation, to name a few reasons people are turning to the cannabinoid – not all products are created equally. Oftentimes, these products are so low in CBD as to be merely using the trend as a cash-grab with no real medical benefits. Nor is CBD the panacea that some people may proclaim it to be. In fact, many continue to argue that cannabis therapeutics is best exercised by combining CBD and THC in a recipe, so to speak, known as the entourage effect.4

While the difference between CBD derived from hemp and cannabis is something of an intriguing footnote on the contemporary cannabis conversation, it’s even more important to understand the difference in the disparities between the many CBD products currently flooding the market. By developing this knowledge, it will be infinitely easier for patients and consumers to navigate the nuances of cannabis, cannabinoids and the prospective benefits of cannabidiol.

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  1. “What’s the difference between marijuana CBD and hemp CBD?” https://www.thegrowthop.com/cannabis-health/cannabis-medical/whats-the-difference-between-marijuana-cbd-and-hemp-cbd
  2. “Debunking the marijuana CBD versus hemp CBD misconception.” http://lupuschick.com/debunking-marijuana-cbd-versus-hemp-cbd-misconception/
  3. “8 things everyone gets wrong about CBD.” https://www.thegrowthop.com/cannabis-health/cannabis-medical/8-things-everyone-gets-wrong-about-cbd
  4. “CBD hemp versus CBD cannabis. What’s the difference? A lot.” https://naturalhealthservices.ca/cbd-hemp-versus-cbd-cannabis-whats-the-difference-a-lot/
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