Whether you’re a cannabis enthusiast or a relative novice to the world of CBD and THC, you are most likely aware of the existence of hemp and its many uses as a natural resource. You’ve also most likely seen some of the abundance of cannabidiol (CBD) products on the market today—flower, tincture, vape, etc. What you may not be aware of is the fact that hemp produces an abundance of CBD.
While CBD products may be legal in most parts of the US, there are many restrictions that ensure the products derived meet a certain standard in order to be eligible for sale under the identifier “hemp.” This is because hemp plants are so similar to psychoactive cannabis that a line must be divided clearly between the two in order for the government to regulate production of hemp. These delineators may seem inconsequential in certain circumstances, but other factors make it clear as day that not all CBD is equal.
What Is Hemp And Its Uses?
Although cannabis and hemp are both biologically classified as cannabis sativa L., the two varieties of the cannabis plant are differentiated based on the THC content of the plant. The federal government considers cannabis plants at or under 0.3% THC content to be hemp. Hemp is CBD-dominant and can be cultivated by industrial farmers for a variety of purposes. In contrast, any cannabis plant containing over 0.3% THC content is recognized as being THC-dominant and defined as marijuana.
While seemingly minor, the difference between hemp and cannabis is significant for industrial hemp farmers, who are legally obligated to destroy their crop if the plants yield THC levels higher than 0.3% at peak maturity. This occurrence is not uncommon, however, even with farmers directing their best efforts toward carefully monitoring and controlling what they can during the growing cycle. Plants that initially appear to have low THC levels can ultimately mature into THC-dominant plants; it’s believed stress or a high-THC plant in its lineage may cause these THC spikes. The potential for directing months of time, effort, and resources into a crop only to be forced to destroy it constitutes the leading financial risk for hemp farmers throughout the country.
When successfully grown at 0.3% THC, hemp is a fantastic source (and has been for thousands of years) for several of the most well-known, non-consumable products on the market.
This includes (but is in no way limited to):
- Paper goods
- Clothes and other textiles
- Construction materials
These products, while long popular and associated with cannabis culture, are becoming more and more mainstream, but that doesn’t mean that they outshine the consumables on the market.
What is CBD?
CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in small levels in marijuana plants, is abundant in hemp. Though there are still studies looking into the official usefulness of CBD against specific conditions, it is widely regarded to ease a number of symptoms stemming from various conditions quickly and effectively. From chronic pain to depression, nausea or migraines, CBD may be a potential aid. And in spite of the decades-old stigma that’s been associated with marijuana products, it is getting more and more acceptable in the mainstream to use the cannabinoid openly.
Some of the notable benefits CBD may provide include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties – To help ease aches and pains by targeting the route of said pain.
- Anti-itch properties – Acne, itchy skin, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and even skin cancer are all inflammatory conditions that affect the skin. It has been found that certain cannabinoids have properties that act as anti-inflammatories and anti-itch aids, CBD being one of them.
- Mental health – Through medical marijuana programs across the country, patients used CBD as a mental health aid, and many found it to be a significant help in the fight against anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and more.
- Brain health – Findings from a government study published on Molecules suggest that CBD offers some form of neuroprotective activity, meaning it can help in the treatment of multiple neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
- Epilepsy – For those diagnosed with epilepsy, there are many different medications out there that can help prevent seizures. One such option is Epidolex, a synthetic CBD option developed due to the success patients in medical cannabis markets found with high-CBD, low-THC cannabis.
An important note for those trying out CBD as a medicinal supplement—CBD should never be taken in lieu of your prescribed medications, but as a supplement to them, and always discuss with your physician prior to adding to your regimen.
What Are the Differences Between CBD Derived from Hemp vs. Cannabis?
Structurally, CBD from hemp and cannabis look the exact same under a microscope and interact with the body in the same way. The primary differentiator is the presence of other cannabinoids and plant compounds. The inclusion or disclusion of other compounds classifies CBD into three categories: isolate, broad spectrum and full spectrum. These spectrums are important as they induce the entourage effect, or the theory that the parts of the cannabis plant work synergistically and better together at alleviating symptoms.
CBD isolate is just that – CBD in its most isolated form. It is extracted from the hemp or cannabis plant using a variety of methods and contains no THC or other plant components. This is ideal for those who are seeking to try alternative medicine, but are unable to consume THC due to work restrictions.
Broad-spectrum CBD contains minor cannabinoids and terpenes. Terpenes have been found to produce specific effects and benefits, and may aid in CBD’s effects.
Like broad-spectrum, full-spectrum CBD contains terpenes and minor cannabinoids, in addition to THC. The inclusion of THC is important for some, as THC and CBD target different parts of the pain puzzle. THC quells the perception of pain, while CBD targets inflammation, or the likely source of the pain. Because of the inclusion of THC, full-spectrum CBD is only available where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. It’s important to note that not all cannabis-derived CBD products are full-spectrum.
How Are CBD Products Tested?
The recent explosion of CBD products in the market has created something of the “Wild, Wild West” of alternative medicines. There are no federal regulations when it comes to the creation and selling of hemp-derived CBD products, except for the cap at 0.3% THC.
Recent surveys of CBD products on the market show serious inaccuracies on their labels, meaning consumers face the risk of buying an ineffective product or one with unsafe levels of harmful contaminants. CBD testing can be completed at in-house laboratories or through independent third-party laboratories that offer Certificates of Analysis (COAs). Because the CBD industry is unregulated and CBD product manufacturers may benefit from mislabeling their products, the only method to truly confirm a CBD manufacturer’s claims regarding the content of their products is to review the COA.
Marijuana in Arizona, however, is highly regulated to protect the patients and Cannassieurs of the state. Thanks to Senate Bill 1494, as of November 1, 2020, all dispensaries must submit marijuana products to a third-party, state-certified lab to test for “unsafe levels of microbial contamination, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth regulators and residual solvents and confirm the potency of the marijuana to be dispensed.”
Lab results should show if these substances are present, the specific levels of these substances in the product, and whether they fall within acceptable limits for human consumption based on these levels. In addition to harmful additions, lab tests analyze the levels of THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids and terpenes, providing a full chemical fingerprint of the product being consumed.
When you are evaluating specific CBD products to find the right fit for you, choose trusted brands that have good reputations for delivering high quality products with accurate COAs. Manufacturing facilities that adhere to the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) follow specific regulations for ensuring the identity, quality, strength, and purity of their products through strict control of the manufacturing process. At MÜV, all of our products are created by trusted brands with COAs available upon request to ensure you know exactly what a product contains and can make an informed purchasing decision.
Which is Better – Hemp or Cannabis-derived CBD?
If you ever wondered, “is all CBD the same,” the answer is a resounding “no.” But for those asking the question of superiority, it will always be subjective due to the varying strength between the CBD-heavy hemp and THC-heavy cannabis and personal needs. Let us know in the comments which CBD products you prefer and why.
Marketing Coordinator at MÜV Dispensary in Phoenix, Arizona. Growing up in a Conservative home I had learned about the scary drug, Marijuana or more commonly, Weed. I grew up and saw how NOT-scary Cannabis really is. My passion for the industry grew after witnessing the power of Cannabis and all its healing properties in myself and my family. I saw my brother’s withdrawal symptoms lessen, my grandmother was able to use her hands again, my anxiety was finally manageable; I even saw Cannabis Products shrink friends’ tumors. I stopped taking all of my SSRI medications, and I realized I wanted to be a part of whatever this was. I began working with this miracle plant on a friend’s farm in the mountains of Oregon with my brother; learning the basics. When I came back to Arizona, I was able to find a home at MÜV Dispensary only 2 months after opening. Since then, I have been learning about every facet of Cannabis as an alternative medicine. In my early days at MÜV, I had enough time at home to search for any articles or credible science journal that even mentioned MMJ. I felt this way I could answer any question a patient had or help whoever asked. Through testing products, studying the credible research that is available, doing my own research, and asking others for their experiences, I have been able to better understand Cannabis and all its quirks. But there is always more to learn!