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What is the difference between Hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD?

What is the difference between Hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD?

What is the difference between Hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD?

August 02, 2021 Cannabis Science

What is the difference between Hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD?

As Canada declared cannabis—both hemp and marijuana legal for both medical and recreational use starting from October 2018, the interest in cannabidiol or CBD continues to grow, and so does the availability of various products. At the moment, you can purchase cannabis flowers and hemp-derived CBD products across Canadian dispensaries without a doctor's prescription. 


Photo by Benjamin Brunner from Unsplash

However, a factor that often confuses people is whether CBD products come from cannabis or hemp. The brief answer is that they both derive from different varieties of the Cannabis Sativa plant, and the confusion surrounding hemp CBD vs cannabis CBD relates to the plant's name, classification, and makeup. And although hemp and cannabis look similar from a chemical and functional perspective, there are also some crucial differences between the two. Don't worry though, understanding the differences between them isn't near as confusing as it sounds. 

The most significant difference between the two is that hemp plants, as a rule, contain more CBD, and cannabis plants contain more tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the compound that causes the "high" that people relate with cannabis use. 

What Is  CBD? 

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in all cannabis plants, indicating it can be derived from either the hemp or cannabis plant. It’s a naturally occurring substance that’s used in products like edibles and oils to impart a feeling of calm and relaxation. Unlike its cousin, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which is the primary active ingredient in cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive.

Photo by Crystalweed Cannabis from Unsplash

Recently, public interest in the availability of CBD has grown due to its numerous promising health benefits. People use CBD to treat various mental and physical issues, including depression, pain, nausea, and addiction. Even though scientific studies haven’t confirmed CBD’s usefulness for all these conditions, available evidence suggests that CBD works particularly well with the endocannabinoid system, the signaling network of the human body.

Hemp And Cannabis 

While both hemp and cannabis plants hold cannabinoids like CBD and THC, they are two separate plants with some significant differences between them.

From a technical perspective, hemp is just one type of Cannabis Sativa plant that people have grown for hundreds of years. In contrast, the cannabis plant can be generally broken down into three subspecies: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. 

Hemp contains much less THC than cannabis—usually less than 0.3%. Furthermore, hemp plants tend to be skinny and tall with sparse foliage, while cannabis plants are generally shorter, thicker, and bushier. Hemp plants are also commonly utilized in producing paper, textiles, and foods, whereas cannabis is only used for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Hemp CBD vs Cannabis CBD 

The primary difference between hemp CBD vs cannabis CBD is that the first one is derived from a hemp plant and the other from cannabis. Nevertheless, the CBD molecule is the same no matter where it’s derived from, so cannabis-derived CBD is in no way different from hemp-derived CBD. The benefits of CBD don’t change whether the compound is derived from either plant.  

CBD Concentration 

The advantage of cannabis CBD is that it represents a richer source of cannabinoids and terpenes than industrial hemp because it contains considerably more resin. Resin is the gooey, sticky substance found on female cannabis flowers and their leaves. Hemp also contains resin on the flowers and leaves, but to a lesser extent than its cannabis counterpart. 

Most hemp cultivators need to grow large quantities of hemp to produce various CBD products, although more CBD-rich hemp strains are being cultivated lately. While high-quality hemp plants usually contain about 10% CBD, some high-quality cannabis strains can have more than double that amount

However, the more considerable CBD concentration in cannabis plants is only advantageous to those who smoke, vape, or ingest high-CBD cannabis flowers. For the vast majority of CBD users who enjoy CBD in some form of extract, the debate of hemp CBD vs cannabis CBD shouldn’t matter at all.


It’s well known that hemp is a bio-accumulator because of the plant’s exceptional ability to suck up whatever it finds in the dirt. This suggests that hemp grown in unknown conditions may be absorbing pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins. 

As such, the hemp that’s used to extract CBD must be grown and cultivated in clean and controlled conditions. The best CBD producers ensure that their goods are manufactured from pure and controlled hemp plants. The biggest takeaway regarding CBD purity for every consumer is to always buy your CBD products from trusted brands and licensed dispensaries that provide growing information and lab reports on their product’s label.


Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD 

CBD isolate products are the ones that contain only the CBD molecule, without the accompanying terpenes, THC, or other cannabinoids. For patients with particular medical conditions, or those wishing to avoid the psychoactive compound THC, CBD isolates made from hemp or cannabis may be the best solution. The alternative to this option would be full-spectrum or whole-plant CBD products. 

Full-spectrum CBD products are the ones that contain the extraction of all of the components of the plant—cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, including low levels of THC when speaking about hemp-derived CBD full-spectrum products. Cannabis plants, on the contrary, tend to contain a more diverse terpene profile than hemp plants, so CBD products derived from cannabis plants also tend to have THC levels higher than 0.3%.