From local drugstores to gas stations to dispensaries, consumers can find CBD in many places.
CBD continues to grow in popularity after the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, which legalized hemp nationwide — cannabis’s non-psychoactive cousin — for adults age 21 and over.
Hemp and cannabis are both varieties of the Cannabis Sativa plant. The only thing that legally distinguishes them is their THC content, explains Healthline.
For instance, hemp — like cannabis (aka marijuana) — contains CBD. However, unlike it’s cousin — hemp contains 0.3% or less of THC.
It is important to note that “cannabis-infused products” can include either hemp or marijuana in them. However, “cannabis” is commonly used to refer to “marijuana.” Other varieties are simply called hemp.
Cannabis and Hemp History
Hemp is one of the first agricultural crops. Historians trace back the first use of hemp to 5,000 BCE in Asia. Here, it was used daily for stuff like doing the laundry, according to the Ministry of Hemp.
When hemp was introduced to the U.S. in the 1600s, it was not uncommon for Americans to have hemp farms, the Ministry of Hemp adds. Even our founding father, George Washington, had his very own hemp farm in Mount Vernon, Virginia. In early American farming, farmers were highly encouraged or required to grow hemp throughout U.S. history.
Cannabis has a similar history. Historians find its use dates back to millennium BC times in Africa, China, and India. For example, the Ancient Egyptians used cannabis to treat glaucoma as well as any type of inflammation, according to the American Addiction Centers. Similar to hemp, American farmers grew cannabis throughout the states in the 1600s. In the 1800s, cannabis was accepted in mainstream medicines and was found in most over-the-counter medicine.
Despite this, U.S. officials made all varieties of the Cannabis Sativa plant — including hemp — illegal. It was not until 2018 that the U.S. legalized hemp. Cannabis, however, remains federally illegal.
A Key Differentiator: Resin
Aside from THC content, another key difference between the two plants is their resin content. To summarize, the sticky trichomes on the plants compose resin. When dried, it creates kief — which is a unique characteristic of cannabis and hemp. Cannabis has a large amount of resin whereas hemp plants tend to have significantly less.
CBD, THC, or CBD and THC?
While users know cannabis for it THC content, hemp is renowned for CBD. Research shows that both cannabinoids prove beneficial for human health individually, or when they work together in a process researchers call the entourage effect.
Individually, CBD is effective at reducing anxiety, inflammation and even PTSD, while THC can reduce pain and insomnia. As such, companies are able to isolate each molecule for their desired effects, and create products with only one cannabinoid.
However THC and CBD also work well together. For example, a Journal of Palliative Care study showed that the presence of THC increases the effectiveness of CBD. Additionally, researchers found that higher THC to CBD levels eased symptoms of pain, insomnia and depression.
Consumers can take full advantage of the entourage effect with full-spectrum hemp or cannabis products. Full spectrum simply means that a company uses all parts of the plant to create the product. Therefore, full-spectrum hemp products should contain trace amounts (0.3% or below) of THC. Full-spectrum cannabis products will contain significantly more THC.
Full spectrum hemp can produce an entourage effect on consumers. However, the medicinal benefits of hemp-derived CBD depend on the medical condition, the extent of the condition, how much the patient consumes and how their body reacts to it.
On the other hand, broad-spectrum products do not contain that plant’s full profile of cannabinoids. Whether a company makes a broad-spectrum product with hemp or cannabis, they remove THC entirely.
Overall, THC lovers can opt for full-spectrum cannabis products for medicine or recreation. For consumers who want low-THC and high CBD — choose full-spectrum hemp products. For those that wish to avoid THC completely, broad-spectrum goods are ideal. However, it’s important to check lab results to confirm that products contain what they claim.
Determining the Better Cousin
So, to bring it back around to the original question: is there a difference between hemp-derived CBD products and cannabis-derived CBD products?
CBD is CBD. Whether it comes from hemp or cannabis, there is really no difference in the cannabinoid itself or its effects. However, what matters is whether the CBD in the product is isolated, or part of a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum product.
Keep in mind that the best way to determine if hemp or cannabis-derived CBD satisfies the consumer’s desires is through trial and error. In the beginning, start off with a low concentration product and slowly increase the intake. This helps guide consumers on what products and cannabinoids produce the most benefits for them.
Currently, hemp is legal in all 50 U.S. states. Recreational cannabis is currently legal in 17 states plus Washington D.C. So some consumers may only have access to hemp-derived CBD products. However with laws changing vastly throughout America, consumers throughout the states will be able to find the right cannabis that best suits them.