What's the Difference: Hemp CBD vs. Cannabis CBD

Posted by Malvena Walker-Addison on


With the explosion of CBD products in the last few years, and with plenty more on the horizon, it can be hard to know which ones work best for you, or even what the differences between them are.
While the 2018 Farm Bill has legalized the cultivation of hemp and hemp-derived CBD, regulations on CBD products as well as customer education are lagging behind.
One area which can be extra confusing is the difference between consuming CBD products made from hemp and CBD products made from cannabis.
It might even be a surprise to learn there’s a difference.
However, knowing the difference is an important factor in choosing the best CBD product for you.

Are There Different Kinds of CBD?

Since this may be confusing, we’ll start at the basics: CBD is CBD.
Whether you’re sourcing CBD from cannabis or hemp, the cannabinoid molecule remains the same.
Say you have two bottles of CBD oil, one sourced from cannabis and the other from hemp.
While those CBD molecules may be the same in each bottle, it's everything surrounding the CBD – the terpenes, resins, and other cannabinoids – that make all the difference.

Terpenes and Cannabinoids with Your CBD

One of the most important parts of cannabis, even CBD-rich cannabis, is the “entourage effect,” a synergy among the different compounds in the plant: terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids (including low, non-psychoactive levels of THC).
Products that include all these things are labeled as full-spectrum or whole-plant, and they tend to have much more benefit compared to isolated CBD.
Hemp meanwhile has much lower terpene and cannabinoid counts compared to cannabis, and because more plant material is required, manufacturers often end up with a cruder product.
Only the very best CBD hemp companies have mastered this process and finding the right ones can take some homework. 


The cannabis and hemp plants are known as a bioaccumulators, which means that they suck up contaminants and unwanted heavy metals from the surrounding soil through their root systems.
This makes it important to know where your cannabis and hemp products are sourced from and that they’ve been screened for the proper contaminants.
This bioaccumulation factor is an important consideration when comparing hemp CBD versus cannabis CBD.
Hemp plants usually contain around 3-5% CBD. Thus it requires a larger amount of plant matter to produce CBD oil, which may also increase the risk of potential contaminants.
CBD-rich cannabis plants contain anywhere from 18-20% CBD, meaning you get more from less and thus less potential contaminants.

So Which Is More Effective?

The team at Project CBD put it best:
“If grown outdoors in tested soil and carefully processed, industrial hemp can be a viable source of CBD. But it is not an optimal source of CBD-rich oil for several reasons.”
People have had all kinds of success with hemp CBD products. Would they have even better results with a cannabis CBD product?
It’s an important question, and while there is still plenty of research and innovation on the way, the main thing is you find a product that works for you.
For best results with cannabis or CBD, the more homework you can do the better, so as to make informed confident decisions that will land you with maximum benefits.

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