In the world of cannabis, lots of confusion exists about CBD oil and hemp oil. Are they the same thing? Are they different? Are they bigger than a breadbox? CBD and hemp share some things in common. For one thing, they’re not psychoactive like THC. This makes them duds recreationally. But they are used medicinally. One of the biggest differences between the two is that CBD is derived from the flowers of cannabis while hemp oil is made from hemp seeds. Both come from the cannabis plant. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

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Cannabis, Explained

CBD can come from marijuana. Marijuana is a type of cannabis plant that is usually grown for its THC content – the flowers contain the highest levels of THC. CBD Versus Hemp: What’s the DifferenceThe amount of THC the plant contains can be dictated through breeding, but it often contains 5 to 35 percent THC. Marijuana contains CBD as well, but in lower amounts than THC. Marijuana is usually short and stout and sprouting lots of flowers. It’s grown indoors (often) and slow to harvest.

Hemp, Explained

CBD can also come from hemp. Like marijuana, hemp is also part of the cannabis plant. It’s used mainly for its stalks and seeds and used in all kinds of applications. Body care products, building materials, food, nutritional supplements, and fuel (among other things) rely on hemp. It also makes that cool hemp necklace you’re sporting. Hemp is usually grown outside and faster growing than its marijuana counterpart. And it’s much taller than marijuana – it can grow to 12 or 13 feet high in its natural state.

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Unlike marijuana, it contains much lower amounts of THC, around .3 percent. In fact, this .3 percent cutoff helps dictate the legality. Cannabis can only be considered hemp when it contains less than .3 percent THC per dry weight. These levels are so low that it’s impossible to elicit any kind of high from them.

Where CBD Gets Confusing

As mentioned above, marijuana contains CBD. But hemp also contains it. Hemp is quite high in CBD and that’s why CBD oil derived from hemp is popular. It’s also why it’s legal and available over the internet (remember, the .3 THC rule). However, CBD oil derived from marijuana is not legal unless you live in a medicinal or recreational market. Even then, it can’t be shipped via the post office. So, to recap, CBD is found in both marijuana and hemp and marijuana and hemp are both members of the cannabis plant. CBD oil that is hemp-based is allowed throughout the US – hemp contains too little THC to cause any sort of psychoactive effects. CBD oil that is marijuana based remains illegal except in certain states.

Is Hemp Oil Legal?

Should you buy CBD that is derived from hemp or from marijuana? If you live in a state without a medical marijuana program (or you don’t have a card) or a state with no recreational cred, then you might have little choice – it’s CBD from hemp or nothing at all. But in states like Washington and California, your options aren’t limited. Some people believe that CBD hemp oil contains less potent CBD than the CBD oil made from marijuana. Others argue that this isn’t true – it’s lower to start, sure, but after extraction, the difference isn’t much. And, still, others argue that CBD is CBD and that – in terms of the benefits – it doesn’t really matter where CBD comes from. CBD Versus Hemp: What’s the Difference?One thing going against hemp oil, however, is the idea of the entourage effect, the process where cannabinoids help each other in their effectiveness. Hemp, like marijuana, does contain a variety of cannabinoids, but it doesn’t contain anything above minuscule levels of THC and THC is something that often helps CBD do its job. Still, some people might like this as even low amounts of THC – say 3 or 4 percent – might have some impact on you if you’re not used to it.

The medicinal benefits and safety profile are other things to consider. And it’s in these categories where CBD derived from marijuana reigns supreme. It’s been argued that CBD from hemp is more likely to be contaminated, can’t measure up in terms of terpene content, and is a better source of CBD (this theory of thought depends on who you ask or, more specifically, what they’re peddling).

The Added Bonus of Using Hemp

But hemp oil has some things that CBD does not. Hemp, even if you were to eat raw hemp seeds, is very nutritious and good for you. It’s high in polyunsaturated fats (the good fats) and Vitamin E. It’s also not bad tasting – it’s nutty (or grassy) and often used to complement salad dressing, smoothies, and sauces. CBD oil that is based from hemp is also – as noted above – exceedingly easy to get. You can order it online and have it delivered straight to your house (regardless of your state’s legal status). That makes it appealing for many consumers.

To obtain CBD oil that is marijuana based, you must go to a dispensary (though some areas allow their medicinal programs to deliver). So, both have their perks and their drawbacks. What you should buy comes down to what you believe. If you think that CBD is CBD regardless of source, then it might be easier to buy online. If you want CBD that may be purer and may offer more of an entourage effect, then check your local dispensary or move to a legal state. Just not Colorado – we’re all filled up here.