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What is the Difference Between Hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD

As the popularity of Cannabidiol increases around the world, and the legality of consumption continues to evolve, numerous new products, uses and claims are popping up — often making it hard to keep track of the basics.

A key point of confusion is in the difference between the many terms used: cannabis, hemp, marijuana. What do each of these mean? How are they different from one another? And what is the difference between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD? We hope to provide a clear, comprehensive answer to these questions and more

What is cannabis?

There is a common misconception that hemp and marijuana are two entirely different species of plants, but they are in fact two different varieties of the same plant: the cannabis plant, a flowering plant within the Cannabacea family.

The first known cultivations of cannabis date back to 70 AD. Since then, the plant has shown a wide and growing range of applications, and has been used as a source of textile fibers, a medicinal supplement, a psychoactive, and more.

Cannabis plants grow in a variety of climates around the world, Today, there are three standard known cannabis species: Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalis and Cannabis sativa, though many consider the latter two to be subspecies of a single species, Cannabis sativa.

Cannabis plants produce compounds called cannabinoids. Two of the most commonly known are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the ‘high’ sensation, and cannabidiol (CBD), a compound increasingly used to treat seizures, inflammation, pain, nausea, depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

What is hemp?

Hemp is one variety of Cannabis sativa. Possibly one of the earliest plants to be cultivated, hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world, used in producing rope, clothing and paper, animal feed, and biodegradable plastics. It is also an excellent source of protein, and is often consumed in the form of hemp milk or oil.

The primary distinction between hemp and marijuana is in the chemical compound of each plant.

Hemp plants contain a very low level of THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid. Legally, hemp is the term for Cannabis sativa plants with less than 0.3 percent THC. Because the level of THC in hemp is so low, it is very unlikely to get people high. Theoretically, one could smoke hemp — but the psychoactive effects would be little to none.

That said, hemp boasts high levels of CBD. While cannabidiol is is found in all cannabis plants, most CBD products on the market today are derived from hemp because of its high levels of CBD, and low levels of THC.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is another variety of Cannabis sativa. Unlike hemp, marijuana is cannabis that can get you high. The term refers to any cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 percent THC. The THC content varies between plants, as some strains are bred to have a higher level of THC than others.

Marijuana strains are commonly divided among three primary categories: strains made of Cannabis indica, strains made of Cannabis sativa, and hybrid strains. The Indica plant is thought to have a relaxing effect on people, whereas sativa has a more energizing effect. Hybrid strains produce a combined effect. Despite the reported differences between indica, sativa and hybrid strains, every person reacts differently to marijuana, and may feel effects other than those most often claimed.

So what is the difference between cannabis, hemp and marijuana?

In short, hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of the cannabis plant.

Hemp refers to any cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3 percent of the cannabinoid THC, and is therefore unlikely to produce a high sensation in any of its forms. Marijuana refers to cannabis plants that contain more than 0.3 percent THC, and could produce a psychoactive effect when used.

Both varieties contain cannabidiol, however, CBD products found on the market today are most often derived from hemp, due to the low presence of THC.

How about the difference between hemp CBD and cannabis CBD?

There is no significant difference in received benefits between CBD derived from hemp plants, and CBD derived from other cannabis plants. The CBD from each can help address similar pains and concerns. What’s more, no CBD product should contain more than 0.3 percent THC, no matter which plant it is sourced from.

The primary differences between hemp CBD and cannabis CBD are in the manufacturing process, and the legality of the product. Hemp plants naturally contain higher levels of CBD, whereas other cannabis plants contain more THC. This means there is a greater amount of cannabidiol available for extraction from hemp plants, making them a more efficient source for CBD products.

Furthermore, CBD products made from plants with more than 0.3 percent THC are not legal within the US — even if the product itself does not contain more than 0.3 percent THC after extraction.

What’s legal, and what’s not?

The legality of CBD products varies depending on location. In the United States, hemp-derived CBD products are federally legal, and any products containing more than 0.3 percent THC are federally illegal. However, usage laws vary further depending on local state law.

Similarly in Europe, hemp-derived CBD is legal within the European Union, though national governments can adapt legislation according to country policy.

So what are the key things I should know?

There is an endless amount of information out there about cannabis, marijuana, CBD and everything in between. But the basics are a good place to start:

  • Hemp and marijuana are two varieties of the same plant, cannabis
  • Cannabis plants are made up of numerous cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gets you ‘high’, and cannabidiol (CBD), a compound increasingly used to legally treat medical conditions
  • Hemp is the term for cannabis plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC, and is unlikely to produce a high effect when used
  • Marijuana is the term for cannabis plants containing more than 0.3 percent THC, and can produce a high effect
  • Most CBD products are derived from hemp plants due to their low levels of THC. All CBD products should include less than 0.3 percent THC
  • Hemp-derived CBD products are becoming legal in more and more locations around the world, while cannabis-derived products largely remain illegal

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