With so much misinformation on the internet about cbd oil, one of the most common questions we get from consumers is in regards to the difference of cbd from hemp vs cbd from marijuana.
Many prospective cannabis consumers are surprised by the number of similarities between hemp and marijuana. However, the resemblance should come as little surprise, since both hemp and marijuana are versions of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. As we dig deeper into the two plants, we begin to see how they can each play a role in the use of cannabis.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a cannabis plant that is most frequently harvested for its euphoric, psychoactive properties, which are responsible for making users feel high or stoned. The fibers and stalks of marijuana are not used commercially. Instead, the marijuana plant is cultivated specifically for its flowers, which contain the highest levels of THC in the plant.
To maximize THC levels in marijuana, it’s often grown indoors so that conditions like light, temperature, and humidity can be closely monitored. Any male marijuana plants are removed to prevent the female plants from becoming fertilized, which lowers the plant’s concentration of THC. When compared to hemp, which grows tall, marijuana grows shorter and bushier with lots of flowers.
Through selective breeding, varieties or strains of marijuana can contain THC concentrations that usually range from 10 percent to 30 percent, or even higher. Marijuana is naturally lower in CBD than THC. Since it contains high levels of THC, use and possession of marijuana, whether for recreational or medical reasons, remains federally illegal in the U.S., although states have passed laws that have legalized either medical or recreational marijuana use.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a cannabis plant that is harvested commercially for its seeds and stalks. Its seeds and stalks are used to produce a number of products: including food, nutritional supplements, medicine, body care products, paper, textiles, building materials, plastic composites, and even biofuels.
Because it thrives under natural conditions, hemp is typically grown outside, with both male and female plants sown closely together to encourage wind pollination and increase seed production. The hemp plant grows sturdy and tall, up to 2 to 4 meters in height, without the need for herbicides or pesticides.
For cannabis to be legally considered hemp, it must contain no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per dry weight. THC is the active compound in marijuana that causes its euphoric effect. The level of THC in hemp is 33 times less than the least potent marijuana strains, so it’s impossible for hemp to get a user “high.”
Unlike marijuana, hemp is naturally higher in cannabidiol (CBD), one of over 85 cannabinoids that have so far been identified in the cannabis plant. CBD is non-psychoactive and therefore won’t cause a high, making it safe for use by anyone, regardless of age.
Should I Buy CBD from Hemp or Marijuana?
One of the misconceptions about CBD hemp oil products is that CBD from hemp oil is less potent than cannabis oil or CBD oil made from medical marijuana. While it is true that the percentage of CBD in hemp plants by dry weight is lower than the percentage of CBD in some specially bred marijuana plants, once the oil is extracted from the plant, this difference becomes negligible.
However, hemp cultivars (varieties) also grow much faster than marijuana, so while an intensively bred high-CBD medical marijuana strain would take a full season to grow, a hemp farmer can often plant multiple crops a season, creating a more environmentally sustainable and conscious product.
While it has been warned that hemp is a bioaccumulator (absorbs and collects contaminants), it needs to be noted that all cannabis plants, including medical marijuana strains, are bioaccumulators. A medical marijuana crop grown with poisonous pesticides or fertilizers is more dangerous to a consumer than a cleanly grown hemp crop, and with minimal regulations in many medical marijuana markets, there is no guarantee that marijuana bought from dispensaries is healthy to use. Recently in Colorado, there have been a number of recalls for marijuana grown with dangerous, unapproved pesticides.
This is the precise reason that Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s CBD hemp oil is grown free of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides and extracted using a supercritical CO2 process regarded by the FDA as safe. Our hemp oil is also Triple Lab Tested® during our cultivation, extraction, and manufacturing processes to ensure our oil’s quality and protect the health of our customers.
Some cannabinoid users also get caught up with the idea that CBD hemp oil is made from “industrial hemp”, a point we have addressed before. There is nothing inherently dirty about industrial hemp, and as mentioned above, products made from hemp oil have the potential to be cleaner and purer than medical marijuana products.
On a molecular level, CBD from hemp is the same as CBD from marijuana. Franjo Grotenhermen of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines has been quoted saying, “CBD is CBD. The human body does not care where the molecule comes from.” Water makes a good analogy here. As far as your body is concerned, an H2O molecule is the same, whether it comes from a rushing river or out of your kitchen tap. In the same vein,10 mg of CBD from hemp oil is absorbed the same as 10 mg of CBD that you’d find in a medical marijuana dispensary. And just like with river water and tap water, neither hemp or marijuana is guaranteed healthier than the other, and much depends on outside factors, making our independent Triple Lab Testing® process all the more critical to the safety of our customers.
Finally, the entourage effect, mentioned in Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special Weed, emphasizes the need for a range of cannabinoids and other compounds in cannabis in order to be effective. The fact is that hemp, like marijuana, contains measurable amounts of a number of terpenes and cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. However, the levels of THC in hemp oil are low enough not to be psychoactive, making hemp a legal, more viable alternative for many to high-THC medical marijuana.
Because CBD hemp oil products are legal in all 50 states, they fill an important role for those who can’t access medical marijuana in their state. CBD hemp oil is also an alternative to medical marijuana for those who are interested in using CBD but are looking to avoid the negative effects of psychoactive THC.
With so much contradicting information available online, it is important for consumers to do their own research from trusted sources. To see if low-THC, high-CBD hemp oil is right for you, visit our education page.