Despite the huge popularity of CBD, many consumers are still unclear what the difference is between marijuana-derived CBD and hemp-derived CBD. For years, words like CBD, hemp, marijuana, and cannabis have been lumped together.
But while there are some similarities between marijuana and hemp, there are a few fundamental differences that set hemp apart from other cannabis plants. Among the many ways hemp and marijuana differ are key items like cannabinoid profile, history, legal status, and their effect on the body and mind.
What Do Hemp and Marijuana Have in Common?
First, we’ll start with the similarities. Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family. Both hemp and marijuana are types of cannabis plants. This means that they’re grown under similar conditions, and the two crops can look very similar.
Both hemp and marijuana contain cannabinol, which is widely known by its acronym, CBD. This compound is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that many have come to know and love.
However, although hemp and marijuana look similar and both contain CBD, the difference between the two strains becomes clear when you look at the CBD concentration in each.
Deriving CBD From Hemp vs Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana are usually distinguished by their CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. Another big difference is also in their mix of cannabinoids and terpenes. The major contrast between the two is that hemp plants contain high concentrations of CBD and low concentrations of THC, while many marijuana plants have low concentrations of CBD and high concentrations of THC. Scientifically speaking, hemp plants contain no more than 0.3% THC, while cannabis plants may contain upwards of 30% THC.
How effectively you can extract CBD from a plant depends largely on the concentration of the compound at the source. Because hemp typically has a higher concentration of CBD, the CBD yields from hemp plants are generally higher than marijuana plants.
Partly because of these percentages, commercial CBD products are almost entirely derived from hemp plants. However, there are many cannabis varieties that can produce higher yields of CBD.
CBD product producers lean toward hemp because it has a high concentration of CBD and a beneficial combination of cannabinoids. Using other cannabis plants for CBD extraction can end up requiring more work and can also result in a less appealing mix of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Legal Status of Cannabis
Historically, hemp created everyday products such as clothing, rope, paper, housing material, and even food. Today, hemp continues to be a versatile material, because it’s naturally strong and durable.
Hemp was once one of the most common crops on most farms, with King Henry VIII making hemp cultivation the law of the land. As times changed and it became cheaper to import hemp from overseas, the U.K.’s production levels dropped away and it was eventually outlawed in 1928.
However, the enduring confusion around the difference between hemp and marijuana has meant the two strains have been entangled together for decades. In America, the start of this association began with The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, lumping the status of hemp with the status of marijuana, with many countries following suit.
In 1970, the Controlled Substance Act effectively tried to erase the difference between hemp and its cannabis cousin. Both cannabis strains fell under a Schedule I drug category, which made them classified as illegal substances.
Thankfully, hemp-derived CBD was made legal in the U.K. in 2016, providing such products contain less than 0.2% THC.
On the other hand, marijuana-derived CBD is not legal in the U.K. It’s a Class B Drug that’s illegal to possess, grow, sell, or distribute, with fines, penalties, and jail time in some cases.
Molecular Structure of the Two Strains
To really get into the differences between marijuana and hemp, we need to go beyond appearances and politics and dive deeper into the science.
THC is the compound in cannabis that creates the feeling that most people associate with marijuana. THC has psychoactive properties, which create the characteristic “high” many experience using the plant.
On the other hand, hemp-derived CBD products don’t lead consumers to feel the same “high.”
The legal form of CBD extract in a product is up to 100% CBD, terpenes, and cannabinoids. With nearly untraceable amounts of THC, hemp plants are less likely to result in the same feelings of intoxication, and they are also unlikely to result in a false positive on a drug test.
The hemp plant naturally produces over 100 different types of cannabinoids, each having a unique effect on the consumer.
How CBD Oil Works
CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, which is an internal signaling network. This is a complex system in our bodies that plays a vital role in our most important functions, such as regulating sleep, pain, mood, and more.
The endocannabinoid system sends signals to the body through the interaction of different receptors. The cannabinoids from CBD products interact with this system and specific receptors related to the central nervous system (CB1) and the peripheral nervous system (CB2). These interactions provide therapeutic relief for many different health concerns.
CBD naturally interacts with the endocannabinoid system without eliciting any feelings of intoxication. This is why many people turn to hemp-derived CBD.
Now that you know the difference between marijuana CBD and hemp CBD, find the best CBD product for you!