If you have been paying even the slightest attention to the news, you have undoubtedly heard of cannabidiol (CBD), a hemp extract that has been taking the world by storm. For the past few years, stories have surfaced about the compound’s potent and versatile medicinal properties. The extract has been said to help manage a host of medical conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to high blood pressure and chronic pain.
Due to the continued focus on hemp, you might think that CBD can only be extracted from hemp, but even the federally illicit marijuana produces cannabidiol. The 2018 Farm Bill classifies cannabis with less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) as industrial hemp and makes its cultivation legal at the federal level. So, although hemp and marijuana belong to the same species of cannabis, hemp is legal at the federal level while marijuana isn’t.
So, what is the difference between hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD? For starters, it’s important to note that technically, CBD from marijuana and hemp is the same. Since the only difference between the two is THC levels, the cannabidiol molecule is identical, regardless of its source.
Legality. At the federal level, CBD extracted from marijuana is illegal. Under federal law, cannabis with more than 0.3% THC content is classified as a Schedule 1 drug with no recognized medical applications. This carries over to any CBD products sourced from marijuana. Even if they have 0% THC, they are illegal at the federal level by virtue of their plant of origin. In contrast, CBD from hemp is legal since federal law permits the cultivation, manufacture and sale of hemp and its derivatives (as long as no unfounded product claims are made).
The law also varies at the state level. There are 33 states with medical marijuana programs, and marijuana-derived CBD is also legal in the 11 states that allow adult recreational use. Hemp-derived CBD products are legal at the state level as long as they conform to state regulations.
Cannabinoid Concentration. Compared to hemp, marijuana is a richer source of cannabinoids and terpenes as it contains more resin while farmers who grow industrial hemp have to grow large quantities of hemp to produce a decent amount of CBD oil. However, the new CBD-rich hemp strains being introduced might mitigate that and increase the popularity of hemp-derived CBD since it tends to be only have trace levels of the psychoactive THC.
Regulation. Hemp-derived CBD is a relatively new sector, and it is still wildly unregulated. Studies have found that a lot of the products on the market are either contaminated with heavy metals, THC, and pesticides or don’t contain the advertised CBD levels. However, states where cannabis-derived CBD products can be sold in licensed dispensaries have a more comprehensive regulatory framework. The products are all subject to stringent testing from licensed facilities.
Effectiveness. Compared to hemp, cannabis has a wider range of beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids. When all these compounds work together, they are even more effective. This has been termed the entourage effect, with experts stating that whole plant extracts have greater medical potential.
As you can see, CBD derived from hemp and that taken from marijuana all come with their own pros and cons. This could explain why hemp industry players like VPR Brands LP (OTCQB: VPRB) and HTC Extraction Systems (TSX.V: HTC) always encourage their customers to get as much information about each product as possible before buying and using that CBD product.
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