Cannabis 101: The difference between Hemp and Marijuana - What is CBD?
Updated: Jan 15
Every event we do, I have dozens of people come up and ask, "Is this like CBD?" and "What is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?". Great questions and the fact that so many people ask them just shows how confusing it can be as a new consumer in this new industry. So, I will do my very best to explain the difference for you and then YOU will be the new expert.
It is actually quite simple: Hemp is Cannabis and Marijuana is Cannabis. The difference between the two is a legal definition. Hemp must be under 0.3% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid that gets you "high"). Marijuana is classified as cannabis containing over 0.3% THC, although most Marijuana growers want that number much, much higher. Here in Colorado, Hemp is regulated under the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Marijuana is under the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Within the family of Hemp, there are strains for medicinal properties (CBD), strains for fiber and also strains for seed, as in Hemp Seed Oil. Those strains all vary greatly as their end use products are very different. For us, growing for our Full Spectrum Hemp Oil, we want the same things that Marijuana growers want: big, fat, resinous, female flowers like in the photo above. We just choose strains that have been bred to mature at less than 0.3% THC, so that we remain compliant as a licensed grower.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of over a hundred Cannabinoids that are present in both Hemp and in Marijuana. Other Cannabinoids include CBG, CBC, CBN, CBDa, TCH, THCa and more. Some products out there only contain CBD in the form of an "isolate" of Hemp. Other terms are "broad spectrum" where most of the compounds are there but the THC has been removed. And then there is "Full-Spectrum", which we use at North Field Farmacy. We leave ALL of the compounds present in our Hemp plants. There is an amazing synergy that happens between the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds making the whole way more potent than the sum of it's parts. In the industry, this is referred to as the "entourage effect".
How do you know what you have or what you are trying to purchase? In this unregulated industry, it can be hard to tell. Some companies say right on the label or website what you are purchasing and some just say "CBD", which doesn't really give you enough information. A good product will be very clear in it's labeling and will have third-party test results posted for you to see and verify the potency and the purity for yourself.
Marijuana is only legal in certain states and only at dispensaries where you may need a medical card to enter. Here in Colorado, we are recreational, so anyone over 21 is welcome to go in. Most Marijuana dispensaries do lean heavy on the THC in their products and lower on the CBD side, but many are starting to realize that lots of folks want the benefits of the CBD without the "high" of the THC and they are beginning to offer products that are much lower in THC.
If you are buying CBD Oil at a regular store, an special event or online, it almost certainly came from Hemp. Legally, you can't buy any Marijuana or it's products outside of a dispensary and only in states where it is legal. But Hemp and it's products are legal in all 50 states. Hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act in December 2018 as part of the current Farm Bill.
Although the federal government declared hemp legal, if you want to grow it, you have to live in a state that has a growing program you can participate in. If your state doesn't have a program, then it isn't legal for you to grow. But you can still buy, sell and transport hemp products in all 50 states. And it is legal to ship all hemp products through USPS.
Now I hope you have a clearer understanding about the differences between and the legalities surrounding both Hemp and Marijuana!