Few cannabis-related questions create as much controversy and discussion as “What is hemp oil vs. CBD oil?” The confusion stems from the use of the word “hemp” to refer to the type of marijuana that is used for recreational or medicinal purposes. As you’ll see, hemp oil and CBD oil are drastically different cannabis products.
In this article, the experts at Honest Marijuana will show you what separates hemp oil from CBD oil, and why using the word “hemp” as a general term for marijuana products is incorrect. We’ll focus our discussion on five specific variations between hemp oil and CBD oil:
- Species of origin.
- Parts used to produce the oil.
- Cannabinoid content.
- Production method.
We’ll also compare hemp oil vs. CBD oil in a simple table to help you see the differences side by side. Before we get to that, let’s start at the beginning and investigate where hemp oil and CBD oil come from.
1) Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: Species Of Origin
On the surface, hemp oil and CBD oil may appear to be the same thing. This is largely due to the first fact we will discuss: they both come from the same plant species.
They Both Come From The Same Plant Species
The cannabis plant belongs to the genus Cannabis, hence the name. Within that genus, there are three species:
Strains from Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and hybrids of the two (e.g., Blue Dream, Cherry OG, and Kandy Kush) make up the bulk of the products you can find at your local dispensary. Cannabis ruderalis, on the other hand, is considered a feral species, meaning that it grows in the wild. In addition, Cannabis ruderalis is naturally low in THC.
Hemp oil and CBD oil both come from the plant Cannabis sativa, although some research shows that hemp is more genetically similar to Cannabis indica. That brings us to our next point.
Each One Comes From A Different Strain Of That Species
Hemp oil and CBD oil come from different strains of the Cannabis sativa plant. The vast, and always growing, number of marijuana strains is an example of how growers can breed plants to exhibit high degrees of various traits (e.g., flavor, aroma, color, THC and CBD count).
But strains can also be created that exhibit low degrees of these same traits.
So even though hemp oil and CBD oil come from the same genus and species (Cannabis sativa), hemp oil is derived from a strain that has a very low cannabinoid count (more on that later).
CBD oil, on the other hand, is derived from the strains you can find in your local dispensary. Many growers refer to the hemp plant as a cousin of the plant that produces your Fruity Pebbles and your Yoda OG.
Another way to think about the difference between the two plants is by comparing them to roses. There are so many different varieties of roses. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.
Even though they differ in a great many ways, they are still roses and their genealogy can be traced back to the original rose plant. Much like yellow roses and white roses are to the original red rose, the hemp plant is a relative (a cousin) of the Cannabis sativa plant.
So we’ve established that most, if not all, of the marijuana products at your local dispensary come from one of two species: Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa. And we’ve clarified that hemp oil and CBD oil both come from the Cannabis sativa plant (albeit different strains of that species).
But what about Cannabis ruderalis? Let’s take a moment to investigate that species further and see why it’s valuable.
A Bit About Cannabis Ruderalis
Cannabis ruderalis is considered a feral (or more technically, ruderal) species, meaning that it grows in spite of its environment being inhabited by humans. It also means that Cannabis ruderalis is unaffected by naturally occurring disturbances to its environment.
Essentially, Cannabis ruderalis is the weed of the weed family.
Botanists tend to agree that Cannabis ruderalis is a descendant of Cannabis indica that adjusted to colder climates in northern latitudes. What they don’t agree on is whether Cannabis ruderalis qualifies as a subspecies of Cannabis indica or whether it should remain its own separate species.
However it’s classified, Cannabis ruderalis is naturally low in cannabinoids. Its real value lies in its genetics.
While Cannabis indica and sativa flower based on how much light they get (the photoperiod), Cannabis ruderalis is what’s called an autoflowering strain. That means it reaches maturity—usually in 20 to 30 days—regardless of the light cycle.
Breeders can combine the autoflowering trait of Cannabis ruderalis with the higher cannabinoid counts in indica and sativa to create a sturdy and stable hybrid that doesn’t depend so much on the natural growing season.
That’s a benefit for producers and consumers alike.
Now that we’ve got all that straight, let’s get back to hemp oil vs. CBD oil and look at the second of the five major differences: the parts used to produce the oil.
2) Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: Parts Used to Produce The Oil
In addition to being derived from slightly different strains of the same plant, hemp oil and CBD oil are produced from different parts of their respective plants.
Hemp oil is produced from the seeds of the hemp plant, much like oils derived from olives, almonds, and coconuts. CBD is produced from the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the Cannabis sativa plant.
That doesn’t mean that the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the hemp plant don’t have a purpose. As you’ll see in section four, all parts of the hemp plant can be used in one form or another.
The key thing to remember about hemp is that it is NOT psychoactive or medicinal like the Cannabis sativa plant. This is because the hemp plant is very low in cannabinoids.
A Bit About Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act on the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. Delta9-Tetrahydrocannbinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of the most well-known cannabinoids. Others include:
- Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).
- Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).
- Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).
- Cannabichromenate (CBCA).
- Cannabichromene (CBC).
- Cannabigerol (CBG).
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).
- Cannabinol (CBN).
And this is, by no means, an exhaustive list. As of this writing, there are 113 different cannabinoids that each contribute their own part to the psychoactive and medicinal experience.
So why learn about cannabinoids? Because cannabinoid content is a major component of the hemp oil vs. CBD oil debate.
3) Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: Cannabinoid Content
Marijuana growers typically focus on the two main cannabinoids: THC and CBD. They cross strains to create new versions that increase one cannabinoid while decreasing the other. For example, CBD has been shown to be extremely useful in treating many medical problems.
Growers have thus created strains with high CBD and low THC, such as Charlotte’s Web, Harlequin, and Sour Tsunami, to increase the medicinal effects without causing the psychoactive high.
On the other end of the spectrum, growers have created strains that are high in THC and low in CBD to maximize the trip you take. Bruce Banner #3, for example, contains a whopping 29% THC. That makes for one heck of a trip!
Now that you know a bit about cannabinoids, let’s see how they relate to hemp oil vs. CBD oil.
Hemp Oil & CBD Oil Are Both Low In THC
Hemp oil and CBD oil are both low in THC when compared to other marijuana products. Most countries require that to be considered hemp, the THC concentration must be 0.3% or lower.
There is no way to experience the marijuana high at such a low percentage. CBD oil may have a higher THC count, but the concentration is usually kept low (between 1% and 5%) in order to maximize the medicinal effects of the CBD. It all depends on the strain used to produce the CBD oil.
So we’ll state it again for the record: Neither hemp oil nor CBD oil will get you high. If you find yourself experiencing psychoactive effects from either of these oils, you’ve gotten something other than hemp oil or CBD oil.
Talk to the budtenders and your local dispensary to make sure you’re getting everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
Hemp Oil Has Low CBD
Hemp oil has a very low CBD count (3.5%). This low concentration makes it all but useless as a medical treatment. Because of the low cannabinoid count (both THC and CBD), the hemp plant—and hemp oil in particular—has vastly different uses when compared to CBD oil.
We’ll discuss those in the fourth section.
CBD Oil Has High CBD
Now that you understand the chemical makeup of hemp oil vs. CBD oil (and the fact that neither will get you high), let’s investigate their uses.
4) Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: Uses
As mentioned above, hemp oil is used for vastly different purposes than its cousin CBD oil. Here’s how they stack up.
Hemp Oil Is A Foodstuff & Industrial Product
Hemp oil is primarily a foodstuff, like olive oil or coconut oil. It can be used to good effect in recipes of all sorts. As a foodstuff, hemp oil is high in:
- Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
Hemp oil is also used for various industrial purposes, including the production of shampoo, lotions, soaps, bio-diesel fuel, plastics, and paint.
The main benefits of hemp oil, though, are nutritional. So instead of thinking of hemp oil like you do other cannabis oils, think of it more like olive oil. Here are just a few of the things that hemp oil can do:
- Provide nutrition for your brain
- Promote a healthy immune system
- Moisturize skin
- Prevent degenerative conditions in your heart and other organs
- Lower blood fat levels
In a similar vein, the side effects of hemp oil are very much like those you might expect from other oils. Here’s a short list:
- Contains high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Produces harmful peroxides under high heat
- Can cause digestive issues
- Can affect your blood’s ability to clot (rare)
So while hemp oil can provide benefits as part of a healthy diet, it is nothing when compared to the health benefits of CBD oil.
CBD Oil Is A Medicine
CBD oil is, first and foremost, a medicine. Its uses are legion, and include treatments for:
- Bone growth.
- Cancer cell growth.
- Bacteria growth.
- Artery blockage.
- Nervous system degeneration.
- High blood sugar.
- Seizures and convulsions.
- Muscle spasms.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Low appetite.
- Chronic pain.
Hemp oil does none of that. It is this difference in uses that highlights the importance of calling each one by its correct name. You wouldn’t want to go up to the counter at your local dispensary and ask for hemp oil if you were intent on relieving your chronic pain.
5) Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: Production Method
The final difference between hemp oil and CBD oil lies in the methods by which they are produced.
Hemp oil is produced by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. Pressing the hemp seeds to extract their oil is very much akin to the processes used to produce other common oils, like olive, coconut, sesame, and peanut, just to name a few.
CBD oil is produced through a process called solvent extraction. A solvent like alcohol, butane, or CO2 is forced across and through the Cannabis sativa plant matter, where it separates the cannabinoids, terpenes, and trichomes.
The solvent is then allowed (or forced) to evaporate, leaving behind the cannabinoid-packed CBD oil.
Quality Is Crucial For Both Types Of Oil
When you really sit down and think about it, there’s a reason why a Mercedes is more expensive than a Yugo: quality.
The components, craftsmanship, and attention to detail that go into building a Mercedes mean that the completed package provides a better all-around experience than the lower-quality (and no-longer-manufactured) Yugo.
The Mercedes looks nicer, rides smoother, lasts longer, and probably even smells better than other cars on the market (we can’t verify that last one, seeing as we’ve never been in a Mercedes before).
It’s the quality that gives Mercedes vehicles the reputation they enjoy today.
The same principle applies to both hemp oil and CBD oil—quality is as important as cannabinoid content.
And when it comes to both hemp and cannabis—the fundamental components of hemp oil and CBD oil—quality means organic.
Organic marijuana grows naturally, as Mother Nature intended, without the addition of pesticides, harsh chemicals, or damaging fertilizers.
“What’s the big deal?” you ask. “So they spray some pesticide on my ganja while it’s growing. It doesn’t affect me.”
Uh, sorry, folks. It does affect you. It may not immediately be apparent when you drizzle hemp oil on your salad or dissolve a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue, but those pesticides and fertilizers contain harmful chemicals and toxins (that’s why they’re used to kill pests).
These toxins are in no way natural and are not supposed to find their way into your body. But trace amounts remain in the final product—whatever that product may be—and make it into your body when you ingest hemp oil or CBD oil.
With time and repeated use, the toxins can build up in your body and cause real problems.
Similarly, some growers spray their plants with heavy metals—such as cadmium, mercury, and lead—and salts in order to provide nutrients for the growing plants and to prevent mineral deficiency.
Just like the toxins and harsh chemicals, trace amounts of these heavy metals and salts stay on the plant after harvesting, drying, and curing and find their way into the hemp oil and CBD oil you take on a regular basis.
Not only are these metals and salts potentially dangerous for you, but they are also dangerous for the environment.
Some of these substances mix with the water you use to grow your plants, where they eventually runoff into—and pollute—the rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world.
So think about it for a minute. Would you be comfortable taking a deep breath of a chemical used to wipe out organisms en masse? Would you be OK swallowing a chunk of metal or salt that, in high enough concentrations, can kill algae, frogs, and small fish?
We certainly hope not.
But, over time, that is exactly what happens when you settle for hemp oil or CBD oil made from non-organic marijuana. You take these substances into your body, where they collect and cause problems down the road.
The best way to protect yourself against these hazards is to only use hemp oil or CBD oil made from high-quality, organic cannabis like that grown by Honest Marijuana.
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: A Side-By-Side Comparison
So here’s a pop quiz for you: what’s the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil? Don’t worry, you won’t be graded—we know there was a lot of information bandied about in the article above. That’s why we’ve provided a “cheat sheet” of sorts to help you keep it all straight in your head.
The table below illustrates the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil.
After all this, you can now see the importance of the hemp oil vs. CBD oil debate. Using the terms interchangeably—like referring to a blunt as a joint—will get you vastly different products and may disappoint you if you’re looking for medical benefits. So call each oil by the appropriate name, and you’ll be sure to get what you’re looking for.
For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our wide variety of strains, concentrates, and other products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.