What are the differences between hemp derived CBD and cannabis-derived CBD? Is there any difference at all? Are the differences substantial or are they minimal?
Let’s find out here.
Industrial hemp and cannabis
Industrial hemp has many uses. Clean energy, food, paper, plastic, and insulation are some of them. Industrial hemp contains extremely low THC, less than 1% and is normally obtained from Sativa plants. Marijuana, especially recreational marijuana comes from Indica strains with a higher amount of THC.
The above differences are between hemp and cannabis. CBD obtained from them has the same chemical structure and at the molecular level, there’s hardly any difference between hemp derived and cannabis-derived CBD.
What’s the difference then?
The differences stem from how much CBD is contained by hemp and cannabis plants, the laws governing their production and their uses and applications. For example, hemp derived CBD is legal in most states (with some caveats added though, such as it is produced under the industrial hemp pilot program).
As we have discussed before, Indica plants have a higher level of THC compared to Sativa strains That’s the reason Marijuana or cannabis-derived CBD is deemed illegal in all 50 states. Unlike cannabis derived CBD, the case with hemp derived CBD is not cut and dry as its legality is still under debate.
The reason hemp derived CBD is in a legal grey zone is extremely technical. Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill permits hemp for industrial uses but sets the prerequisites as “with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” This very clause is the root of all the confusions regarding the legality of hemp CBD.
Differences in side-effects
Cannabis derived CBD, especially harvested from an indica heavy strain, is laden with THC. Studies found cannabis derived CBD can have as much as 30% THC. Hemp derived CBD, on the other hand, contain little THC. As stated above, the law requires it to be 0.3% or lower.
CBD that is high in THC have undesired effects. THC is a vasodilator meaning it causes the blood vessels to swell. When that happens, blood pressure goes down and the heart races faster to make up for the decreased pressure in blood. Increased heart beat is the last thing one would expect from CBD.
Hemp derived CBD has literally zero side effect. It is safe for all age groups. Even children and elderly people can use hemp CBD oil. As a matter of fact, children with intractable epilepsy are often treated with CBD oil derived from hemp. Doctors nonchalantly recommend hemp CBD to children because they deem it safe. FDA is currently considering the release of a CBD-based medicine for epilepsy patients.
The missing cannabinoids
As stated already, a source of CBD is irrelevant when it comes to the core chemical properties. Maybe it was cultivated from cannabis that only has use in the medical industry, or maybe it’s sourced from industrial hemp, the core chemical characteristics remain the same.
The “non-core” chemical properties, however, differ significantly. Over 100 cannabinoids are missing in industrial hemp derived CBD. According to scientist Ethan Russo, who is an expert in this field hemp derived CBD consumers are missing out on a lot more than they think. His research explores how several compounds in cannabis influence each other. He called it the synergy effect. In hemp derived CBD, the synergy effect is missing because of the lack of numerous compounds, present in marijuana derived CBD.
The presence of terpene
The presence of terpene can change the odor and taste of CBD. A number of terpenes such as phytol, amyrin, etc impact the endocannabinoid system and activate receptors connected to the gut and the nervous system.
Cannabis derived CBD typically has more terpenes than hemp derived CBD. Probably that’s why many report cannabis CBD healed their gastroenterological problems that made them suffer for a long time. What is the role of terpenes beyond smell, taste and some weird physiological changes? Terpenes (not all, but some) can act as a vessel for THC by escalating its speed.
Differences in application
While hemp derived CBD is often deemed safe for it doesn’t cause side-effects, cannabis derived CBD is believed to have more value in terms of medicinal application. Both hemp and cannabis derived CBD contain powerful analgesic qualities, but cannabis CBD is considered a better pain reliever. The strong psychotropic effect of cannabis CBD numbs the sensory pathways that receive pain signals.
So yes, there are differences between the two types of CBD – differences beyond how they are chemically structured. It needs to be remembered by consumers and CBD brands alike. Consumers, because they cannot expect hemp derived CBD to be strong as cannabis CBD. Brands, because they need to understand the varying requirements of consumers and provide them with what they pay for.