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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Another big difference among hemp, marijuana and CBD is how the law treats them.
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.
Cannabis tends to have a wider terpene and cannabinoid profile than hemp. Cannabis-derived CBD from whole plant extract contains a range of beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids, including THC. These compounds work in concert with each other to provide additional benefits. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect, and many cannabis experts assert that whole plant extracts offer greater therapeutic potential .
CBD products sourced from hemp, such as oils and tinctures, are legal at a federal level, so long as they conform with other applicable laws. That said, certain states have their own legislation and regulations regarding CBD oil.
Industrial hemp, on the other hand, is no longer considered a Schedule I controlled drug. Following the 2018 farm bill , hemp was reclassified as an agricultural commodity. Since then, there has been an explosion of CBD products onto the market, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a statement that a regulatory framework for CBD products is still in the pipeline, and foods containing CBD, dietary supplements, and products making health claims are considered illegal.
According to federal law, cannabis—with 0.3% THC content or higher—is classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use. CBD products sourced from cannabis, even those with 0% THC, are illegal at a federal level by virtue of their plant origin.
You can also look for hemp-derived CBD products with a USDA organic certification. This affirms that the growing conditions meet official USDA organic standards, and also provides assurance that the hemp extraction process was free of synthetic chemical additives.
Here’s the tricky thing: Both cannabis and hemp produce CBD. The CBD molecule is identical regardless of its cannabis source. However, from a legal perspective, CBD products derived from hemp and CBD products derived from cannabis are entirely different.
The hemp-derived CBD market is not yet subject to a widely enforced regulatory framework. For this reason, it’s essential to do your homework when buying hemp-derived CBD.
Other differences between hemp-derived CBD and cannabis-derived CBD
Hemp also contains some cannabinoids and terpenes, but not the range nor concentration of compounds present in cannabis. Hemp-derived CBD can be made into an full-spectrum extract that offers natural terpenes alongside minor cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum CBD is also available and contains minor cannabinoids and terpenes, but without the THC content.
CBD can also be extracted from both hemp and cannabis to become an isolate. Isolates are identical whether derived from hemp or cannabis because they only contain CBD molecules. As there is more CBD in cannabis than hemp, it requires more hemp by dry weight to produce the same amount of CBD isolate.
As CBD becomes more well known, there is growing awareness that not all CBD products are made the same, nor are they even necessarily derived from the same kind of cannabis plant.
“The entourage effect is essentially the synergy, in terms of outcome, that has been observed when cannabinoids are combined with other minor cannabinoids and terpenes,” Riggle said. “The combined effect is more pronounced in combination than in isolation, helping to prolong or enhance the overall effects.”
The entourage effect
Hemp-derived oil and CBD products are sourced from industrial hemp plants, which are grown primarily for their fiber andseeds. These plants tend to differ from marijuana plants in appearance; they are often skinny and have sparse foliage. Hemp is also differentiated from marijuana by its levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid that causes consumers to feel “high.”. As outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill, a hemp plant must contain no more than 0.3% THC.