What’s the difference between CBD from hemp and CBD from marijuana?

What’s the difference between CBD from hemp and CBD from marijuana?

When using Cannabidiol (CBD) for pain management, what often comes up is what’s the difference between CBD from hemp and CBD from marijuana? The quick answer is that hemp CBD won’t get you high and CBD marijuana will. However, the answer isn’t as straightforward as one would think.

Hemp CBD vs. Cannabis CBD

Hemp and marijuana are both Cannabis plants but are different varieties within the same Cannabis Sativa plant family. One of the most common strains is industrial hemp, used for CBD oil and to relieve a range of health concerns. Another strain is marijuana used medically and recreationally.

Upon close examination, there are differences in leaf shapes and colors. Hemp leaves are longer and skinnier with more fern-like attributes than marijuana. Leaves tend to remain at the top of the plant, connected to long stems. On the other hand, marijuana has round buds, lower to the ground, and resembles a bush more than a houseplant. Industrial hemp leaves come in a variety of colors but usually are a lighter green than marijuana.

Hemp and marijuana growing conditions are different. Hemp is easier to grow in different environments while marijuana prefers a warmer climate. Marijuana also has to be planted farther apart from each other with a shorter life cycle, but hemp can thrive planted closer together and has a longer life cycle. If you plant hemp and marijuana close together, hemp takes over, ruining the psychoactive effects of marijuana.

Even though there are some key differences, one similarity is the smell. Both hemp and marijuana have the same all too familiar smell of weed that some people love or run away from and hide. Terpenes give marijuana its distinct smell, but the process of making hemp oil removes the familiar scent. Some CBD users report smelling vanilla and cinnamon in the oil.

Psychoactive Effects

One way to think about the difference between marijuana vs. hemp is the levels of the phytocannabinoids Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis oil has higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD while hemp has lower levels of THC and higher levels of CBD.

Even though hemp-derived CBD does have THC in the variety, the psychoactive effects are so low that becoming “high” is impossible. Countries producing hemp and CBD oil products regulate THC amounts.  If the value of THC goes over .03%, the product isn’t legal. On average, marijuana contains 15 to 25% of THC, making the possibility of becoming high a given. The best part about CBD is that you don’t have to worry about CBD impairing you from engaging in everyday activities like driving, studying or operating heavy machinery while still receiving the health benefits.

Entourage Effect

The whole-plant or entourage effect is synthetically producing only THC or CBD-based medicines. Instead of using the entire plant makeup, each compound is extracted and used to target specific problems. Common medications include Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone). The drugs come in capsule form and take longer for the users to feel the effects. Since CBD oils use the entire plant, the results are quicker for the consumer.

Some research shows excellent results isolating one compound to target specific diseases and alleviate pain. Other research shows that to receive the full benefit of CBD or THC the full spectrum of the plants therapeutic pro. Ethan Russo, M.D., a neurologist, and cannabis researcher claims there’s a synergistic effect of CBD and THC.

The debate over the Entourage Effect started when a CBD-only strain produced to help treat children with epilepsy hit the media. Parents of epileptic children demanded treatment using CBD and lawmakers listened. Some states began to pass CBD-only laws, allowing the sale and production. Once CBD started to become known for the treatment of epilepsy, people began to wonder about its efficacy for other ailments.

Health Benefits of CBD Hemp Products

You can’t hear about CBD or medical marijuana without learning about the health benefits. Due to medical marijuana research, the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was discovered. The ECS system is responsible for optimizing emotions, movement, and cognition.

More research needs to be done to determine the full spectrum of the importance of this system, but what is clear —CBD plays a vital role. A part of this discovery was the importance of cannabinoids bonding with receptors responsible for regulating pain management. In essence, CBD provides more juice for the Endocannabinoid system to operate with, easing everything from sore muscles to cancer-related symptoms.

In essence, it doesn’t matter if you’re using CBD from hemp or CBD from marijuana, the health benefits are similar. Scientists would argue that since cannabis plants contain a variety of compounds other than CBD or THC that different combinations target specific problems more than others.

Regardless of combination research suggests Cannabidiol helps improve the following health conditions:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chronic pain (lifestyle and disease)
  • Mood disorders
  • Memory loss (Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Migraines
  • Colon Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Is CBD Legal?

One CBD misconception is that it’s illegal to purchase. This idea couldn’t be further from the truth. CBD oil is legal in all 50 states. Some people believe that since marijuana is not yet legal everywhere that CBD is too. As outlined, CBD contains low THC levels, making the psychoactive effects impossible.

Hemp CBD and Marijuana CBD Dosages

Every person has a different bodily makeup and pain threshold, making dosages tricky to determine at first. Even thought CBD with marijuana causes high-like effects the dosage is harder, but hemp CBD dose is essential too. All supplements carry the risk of minor adverse effects so following the advice of your health care provider and CBD product package instructions.


In the end, CBD from hemp and CBD from marijuana are similar, yet key differences remain in the plant’s chemical makeup, especially in how much CBD and THC is present. Regardless of the concentration or psychoactive effect, CBD provides critical health benefits for people.

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