CBD can be derived from hemp or marijuana plants. For some people, the differences between the two can be confusing. In short, hemp plants generally contain more CBD, while marijuana plants contain more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The word “cannabis” is often used to replace “marijuana,” a term with a history of racist associations.

However, “marijuana” is still legally defined as cannabis that contains more than 0.3 percent THC content by dry weight, while “hemp” refers to cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, so for the sake of clarity, this article will use the words “marijuana” and “hemp.”

The confusion surrounding hemp CBD vs. marijuana CBD relates to the plant’s classification, name, and makeup.

Basically, hemp plants generally contain more CBD, and marijuana plants contain more THC, a compound that causes the “high” that people associate with marijuana use.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

a gloved hand touching a hemp of cannabis plant that can be used to produce CBD oilShare on Pinterest
Hemp and cannabis contain different amounts of CBD and THC.

Public interest in and the availability of CBD has grown due to its promising health benefits. People use CBD to help with a wide variety of physical and mental issues, including pain, nausea, addiction, and depression.

Although scientific studies have not confirmed CBD’s usefulness for all these conditions, available evidence suggests that CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, which is a signaling network.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is non-intoxicating and one of the more than 540 phytochemicals found in the Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) plant. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound that gets people “high.” It is the difference between THC levels found in hemp and cannabis that has caused so many legal complications.

Learn more about the potential health benefits of CBD oil here.

Hemp is a specific variety of C. sativa. People have grown hemp for hundreds of years, using it to make rope, clothes, sails, food, and much more. Industrial hemp has an equally long history in the United States – Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the country, grew it himself.

The 2018 Farm Bill considers C. sativa plants with less than 0.3 percent THC as hemp or industrial hemp. Producers can grow it legally across most of the U.S., subject to strict regulations and excluding three states.

Hemp plants do contain THC, but at very low levels. However, certain types of processed hemp, such as tinctures, gummies, or capsules, can still cause euphoria.

In most cases, manufacturers use the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant to make CBD products.

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There are three standard varieties of cannabis plants: C. indica, C. sativa, and C. ruderalis. There is also a range of hybrid plants that are a mix of these three strains. These cannabis plants contain much higher and varying levels of THC than hemp plants.

Besides containing more THC, these plants also tend to contain less CBD than hemp plants, and the difference has become steadily more pronounced.

A 2016 analysis found that the average potency of cannabis plants rose from about 4% in 1995 to 12% in 2014. Average CBD levels decreased from 0.28% in 2001 to less than 0.15% in 2014.

Marijuana CBD vs. hemp CBDMarijuana CBDHemp CBD
Plant species• marijuana derives from C. indica, C. sativa, and C. ruderalis plant. • hemp derives from a specific variety of the C. sativa plant.
Chemical composition• higher THC content and lower CBD content• higher CBD content and lower THC content
Side effects• drowsiness or sleepiness
• changes in appetite
• drowsiness or sleepiness
• changes in appetite
Legal status• CBD products made from marijuana plants with THC levels higher than 0.3% are illegal.• Under the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD products made from hemp plants are generally legal across most of the USA.

Marijuana and hemp plants contain both CBD and THC, along with more than 540 other substances. The main difference between the two plants is the amount of each compound they contain.

Marijuana contains more THC, and less CBD. Hemp contains more CBD, and less THC.

Most importantly, the benefits of CBD do not change whether it is marijuana-derived CBD or hemp-derived CBD. Common side effects, such as drowsiness or sleepiness, diarrhea, changes in appetite, and irritability, remain the same. This is because the chemical makeup of CBD does not depend on which plant it comes from.

However, the amount of CBD available for extraction does depend on the source. Hemp plants contain far more CBD, making them the more lucrative option for manufacturers and the option with the least potential legal ramifications.

The main difference between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD is their legal status. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, products made from plants that meet the legal standards of hemp are legal across most of the USA, except in three states.

Products made from plants that have higher levels of THC are not legal under this statute. However, it is important to note that all CBD products must have less than 0.3% THC, so even those made from marijuana-derived CBD should contain less than this amount.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers any CBD products a Schedule I drug in states where the recreational use of marijuana is not legal.

Below are some commonly asked questions about the difference between hemp and marijuana.

Is hemp considered a drug?

In 2018, the Farm Bill was passed, which effectively legalized CBD if it comes from hemp.

However, a few states have not removed hemp from their state’s controlled substances acts, so the legality of CBD products differs across states.

Is hemp better to smoke?

Unlike marijuana, smoking hemp will not give a person a “high”. This is because hemp contains much lower levels of THC (the ingredient that produces a psychoactive effect).

Anecdotally, some people suggest that smoking hemp helps improve their sleep, focus, and stress levels. However, more research is needed to support these claims.

Also, compared to tobacco, some people claim that hemp is better to smoke as it is less harsh, noxious, and addictive.

Does hemp have indica or sativa?

Hemp is derived from the C. sativa plant. It is not possible to get hemp from the C. indica plant.

CBD is attracting considerable public interest because of its promise to treat various physical and mental health issues, even though there is no scientific evidence to prove these health claims.

Hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of the C. sativa plant, with hemp containing more CBD and minimal THC.

Most CBD products are made from hemp plants as they contain far more CBD and almost no THC, which is the compound that creates the “high.”

Individuals considering using CBD for physical or mental challenges should inform their doctors to make sure it does not interact with any medications they may be taking.

The main difference between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD is legal standing.