A commonly visited topic in the cannabis industry and with CBDistillery™ community is the difference between CBD, cannabidiol, derived from hemp versus CBD derived from marijuana. While some canna consumers argue there is no difference between the CBD produced from these two products, others passionately debate that CBD derived from marijuana is superior. So what are the facts? Below we explore the unbiased, scientific data regarding this subject.
The CBD molecule when isolated is the same whether it was derived from marijuana or hemp. Thus, the argument of the CBD molecule being different in marijuana and hemp is a misconception. Franjo Grotenhermen of the International Association of Cannabinoid Medicines famously declared, “CBD is CBD. The human body does not care where the molecule comes from (2).”
To better understand this, think of drinking water from the faucet of your sink or a filtered water bottle. Although the purity of the water might be different, the H2O molecule is consistent.
Similar to the above analogy, what is arguably relevant in the debate between hemp versus marijuana extracts should be the purity and safety of the cannabidiol someone is consuming, regardless of the plant, it is derived from.
Hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis species, but are grown for different purposes. Hemp – also called industrial hemp- is one of the oldest plants known to man, dating back to 8000 BC (1). The plant itself is typically tall and thin and cultivated to produce food, oils, paper, other textiles, and high CBD extractions. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, are bred for their psychotropic properties.
The cannabis plant species, which includes industrial hemp, contains 60 known cannabinoid compounds. The levels of THC in cannabis are what legally distinguish which plants are considered hemp and which are considered marijuana. High levels of THC (3 -15%) which is the most well-known compound in cannabis and is the cannabinoid most commonly associated with the plants’ psychoactive properties, is found in higher concentrations in marijuana plants, whereas industrial hemp status is given to cannabis plants with THC levels less than .3%.
Cannabinoid ratios differ from each cannabis strain. Whereas the marijuana strain in Girl Scout Cookies has high levels of CBG, the Sativa strain Durban Poison is richer in THCV. Neither strain is necessarily better, they just different in cannabinoid ratios. Similarly, hemp is a cannabis strain with typically higher concentrations of CBD, CBG, CBC and sometimes THCV but will always have low levels of THC.
There are various ways of extracting cannabidiol from a cannabis plant, each with their pros and cons. CO2 and ethanol extraction are two of the most commonly used methods. CO2 extraction, for example, uses carbon dioxide under high pressure and extremely low temperatures to extract, preserve, and maintain the purity of the CBD oil. According to ProjectCBD.org, ‘when well done the end product is safe, potent, and free of chlorophyll’ (3). When choosing a CBD product, make sure the company uses a safe solvent and a verified extraction method.
A molecule is a molecule is a molecule. This theory is consistent when it comes to all cannabis products, including CBD products derived from hemp and marijuana plants. It is highly recommended when choosing a CBD product, to look beyond which plant the molecule has been extracted from and consider the potency, safety, and most importantly, the quality which is not impacted by what type of cannabis the molecule came from but rather the purity of the molecule itself.
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