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CBD, marijuana and hemp: What is the difference among these cannabis products, and which are legal?

Authors

Assistant Professor of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware

Assistant Professor and Extension Economist, Michigan State University

Disclosure statement

Brandon McFadden receives funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Trey Malone receives funding from the U.S. Department if Agriculture, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

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While 67% of U.S. adults support marijuana legalization, public knowledge about cannabis is low. A third of Americans think hemp and marijuana are the same thing, according to the National Institutes of Health, and many people still search Google to find out whether cannabidiol – a cannabis derivative known as CBD – will get them high, as marijuana does.

Hemp, marijuana and CBD are all related, but they differ in significant ways. Here’s what you need to know about their legality, effects and potential health benefits.

Hemp, marijuana and cannabanoidals

Both hemp and marijuana belong to the same species, Cannabis sativa, and the two plants look somewhat similar. However, substantial variation can exist within a species. After all, great Danes and chihuahuas are both dogs, but they have obvious differences.

Tiny chihuahua sits next to a giant great dane

Great Danes and chihuahuas are distant cousins, like marijuana and hemp. Pixy, CC BY

The defining difference between hemp and marijuana is their psychoactive component: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Hemp has 0.3% or less THC, meaning hemp-derived products don’t contain enough THC to create the “high” traditionally associated with marijuana.

CBD is a compound found in cannabis. There are hundreds of such compounds, which are termed “cannabinoids,” because they interact with receptors involved in a variety of functions like appetite, anxiety, depression and pain sensation. THC is also a cannabinoid.

Clinical research indicates that CBD is effective at treating epilepsy. Anecdotal evidence suggests it can help with pain and even anxiety – though scientifically the jury is still out on that.

Marijuana, containing both CBD and more THC than hemp, has demonstrated therapeutic benefits for people with epilepsy, nausea, glaucoma and potentially even multiple sclerosis and opioid-dependency disorder.

However, medical research on marijuana is severely restricted by federal law.

The Drug Enforcement Agency categorizes cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning it handles cannabis as if there is no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Scientists don’t know exactly how CBD works, nor how it interacts with other cannabinoids like THC to give marijuana its added therapeutic effects.

Retail CBD

CBD comes in food, tinctures and oils, just to name a few. Here are some commonly used terms used to describe CBD products in the store.

Wood shelf with various CBD products from the R+R Medicinals label on it

Full spectrum CBD products for sale, including tinctures, topical creams, edible gummies and pet products. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

While the terms “CBD tincture” and “CBD oil” are often used interchangeably, the two are actually different. Tinctures are made by soaking cannabis in alcohol, while oils are made by suspending CBD in a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil.

“Pure” CBD, also called “CBD isolate,” is called that because all other cannabinoids have been removed. So have terpenes and flavonoids, which give marijuana its strong aroma and earthy flavor.

“Broad spectrum” CBD typically contains at least three other cannabinoids, as well as some terpenes and flavonoids – but still no THC. “Full spectrum” CBD, also called “whole flower” CBD, is similar to broad spectrum but can contain up to 0.3% THC.

In states where recreational marijuana is legal, the list of cannabis-derived products greatly expands to include CBD with much higher THC content than 0.3%.

There is no standardized dosage of CBD. Some retailers may have enough knowledge to make a recommendation for first-timers. There are also online resources – like this dosage calculator.

Consumers concerned about content and the accuracy of CBD products, which are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, can look for certification from independent lab testing or by scanning a QR code on product packaging.

Note that CBD oil is different from hemp oil – which comes from pressing cannabis seeds, and may not contain CBD – and hempseed oil, which is a source of essential fatty acids and contains no CBD. It’s a nutritional supplement, more like fish oil than CBD oil.

Legal status

Another big difference among hemp, marijuana and CBD is how the law treats them.

Though 15 states have now legalized recreational marijuana, it remains illegal federally in the United States. Technically, those in possession of marijuana in a legal weed state can still be punished under federal law, and traveling across state borders with cannabis is prohibited.

Man wearing backpack looks at a row of hemp plants

A stand at the 2019 Southern Hemp Expo, in Tennessee. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

One would assume, then, that hemp-derived CBD should be federally legal in every state because the THC levels don’t surpass 0.3%. But CBD occupies a legal gray area. Several states, such as Nebraska and Idaho, still essentially regulate CBD oil as a Schedule 1 substance akin to marijuana.

Our recent study found that Americans perceive hemp and CBD to be more like over-the-counter medication and THC to be more like a prescription drug. Still, the average person in the U.S. does not view hemp, CBD, THC or even marijuana in the same light as illicit substances like meth and cocaine – even though both are classified by the DEA as having a lower potential for abuse than marijuana.

The current federal prohibition of marijuana, in other words, does not align with the public’s view – though state-based legalization shows that society is moving on without the blessing of politicians on Capitol Hill. U.S. recreational marijuana retail sales may reach US$8.7 billion in 2021, up from $6.7 billion in 2016.

As interest in other cannabinoids, like cannabigerol, or CBG – which some are touting as the new CBD – continues to grow, so too grows the need for further medical research into cannabis.

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Hemp, CBD and marijuana are all forms of cannabis – but they are different in significant ways, from form and legality to their potential uses as treatment for various health conditions.

Difference between THC Oil, Cannabis oil, CBD oil, marijuana oil

In this article we explain in detail the differences (if any) between CBD Oil, Cannabis oil, THC Oil and Hemp Oil & Marijuana oil.

Different names for THC oil

We receive many questions about the types of Cannabis oil, marijuana oil, THC oil, hemp oil and CBD oil. What does the name stand for and what is in the oil? The biggest difference is the concentration of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol ) in the oils. Whereas hemp and CBD oil do not contain THC, the other oils do contain measurable levels of THC (the active substance that can produce a high).

Apparent differences

On the Internet all kinds of terms and symptoms are mentioned that cause confusion. So many, that you, as a customer, cannot see the forest for the trees anymore. We will try to inform you in this article as clearly as possible about the apparent differences between Cannabis oil, CBD oil, marijuana oil, hemp oil and THC oil.

Cannabinoids are the basis

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol ) and CBD (Cannabidiol) are the two best-known cannabinoids that recently received a lot of attention as medical application. However, it is estimated there are more than 80 cannabinoids present in hemp and marijuana plants.

Endo-cannabinoid system

The human body contains, just like other mammals and animals an endo-cannabinoid system. Endo stands for endogenous to the body. Endo-cannabinoids act as signalers and control the production of e.g. hormones. Also, our complex immune system is controlled by the cannabinoid system. So, quite important.

Still in its infancy, but with good will

Medical science is still in its infancies regarding this area. The same science actually just started with extensive research on the effect of cannabinoids. The will and the importance of cannabinoids is increasingly being recognized. Also serious research is going on about the exact influence on the human and/or animal body.

What names are used for oils coming from the hemp plant

  • Hemp oil
  • CBD oil
  • Marijuana oil
  • THC oil
  • Cannabis oil

Hemp oil

In general, with Hemp oil one refers to hemp seed oil. The seeds of the fiber hemp are a byproduct of the production of hemp. The fiber hemp is produced with fibers that are used for e.g. car and construction industry.

Cold-pressed hemp seeds

The seeds of the hemp plant can be cold pressed peeled and unpeeled (preferably cold), to a delicious oil. This oil is known about its great taste, and for the high values of unsaturated fats, such as Omega 3 and Omega 6. In these oils, no cannabinoids such as TCH or CBD are present. Yet, the oil is used to improve the dosage and the wholesome effects of CBD oil.

CBD Oil

CBD Oil is a collective term for oils made from fiber hemp, and do not contain THC. CBD Oil is a compound oil that contains at least CBD (Cannabidiol). These can also be other varieties, because there many different cannabinoids are present in raw hemp. Apart from CBD, we have oils that also contain the cannabinoids CBDA, CBC, CBGA, CBD, CBCA. This oil is often diluted with olive oil or hemp seed oil to improve the dosage and taste.

CBD products without THC

The fiber hemp we use for the production of CBD Oil, contains less than 0.2% THC. During the production of different CBD products, the level of THC in the fiber hemp will further reduce.

CBD oil is legally available

CBD oil comes in many types and tastes. We sell the best brands and most demanded compounds. Because no THC is present in CBD Oil, this oil is legally available in all of Europe. We do not make any claims about the wholesome effect, though the Internet is full of renowned researchers who see benefits in the use of CBD oils.

Marijuana Oil, THC Oil and Cannabis Oil

Three names that in most cases refer to the same product. In popular speech, different names were created out of THC containing oils from (Dutch) marijuana. Those saying marijuana oil, cannabis oil or THC oil normally refer to the same thing. An oil made from (Dutch) marijuana with a high concentration of THC. The purpose is to become high, though the medicinal effect becomes more and more important.

Marijuana oil = THC Oil = Cannabis Oil

One of these names is normally given to oils made from the resin of the female marijuana plant. So when you learn something about marijuana oil, an oil is meant with a high concentration of THC and sometimes with a high concentration of CBD as well.

Marijuana Oil

This oil is made by extracting the resin of the female marijuana plant with the help of alcohol. After the resin is dissolved in alcohol, you let the alcohol evaporate. The residue will then consist of a thick syrup full of THC. The THC is what’s it all about. To simplify the administration (often orally), the syrup is often dissolved in pure hemp seed oil.

Marijuana oil is made from (medicinal) marijuana (as the word already suggests) and the oil therefore also contains THC. The large difference between marijuana and hemp is the amount of THC present in the plant. For marijuana that is high and for hemp that is negligibly low.

Marijuana oil is not legal to buy

Because marijuana oil contains THC, this oil will never be available to buy here, because THC is illegal. Marijuana oil is illegal because of the presence of THC (a substance forbidden in Europe). Making marijuana oil yourself is allowed though. We have several instruction videos and articles on our website that show precisely how you can best do this.

THC Oil

The name already kind of suggests it. This oil from the marijuana plant is known about its high concentration of THC. Also this oil is made by extracting the resin of the female marijuana plant with the help of alcohol. This is possible through different methods. The best-known method is used by Rick Simpson, he put very clear instruction videos on Youtube. The value of THC depends on which marijuana strain is used to make THC oil from.

THC medicinal use

The Internet is full of claims about the medicinal effect of Cannabis and CBD oil. All the benefits it could bring. Less known is the medicinal effect of THC and the power that THC gives to CBD (and the other way around).

CBD oil medicinal use

CBD oil is made of industrial fiber hemp plants. You do not get high or stoned from CBD oil (it is made of hemp, not of marijuana). CBD is good for your health (see links below for more information).

CBD is legal within the EU

Because we can offer legal CBD Oil, what follows is an overview of CBD Oil products.

CBD is offered in the following:

  • Paste
  • Oil
  • Capsules
  • E-Liquid
  • Suppositories
  • Cream/ointment

We receive many questions about the types of Cannabis oil, marijuana oil, THC oil, hemp oil and CBD oil. What does the name stand for and what is in the oil? The biggest difference is the concentration of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol ) in the oils.  Whereas hemp and CBD oil do not contain THC, the other oils do contain measurable levels of THC