Are CBD and Hemp the Same? Here's What You Need to Know

What are the differences between CBD and hemp?

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Sep. 25 2019, Updated 3:26 p.m. ET

cbd hemp
Source: istock

In 2014, the U.S. passed the 2014 Farm Bill, lifting federal restrictions on the sale of hemp-based products. This inspired many states to enact policies legalizing the sale of hemp — and therefore CBD. Then, in December 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, making it legal for hemp-based products containing a small amount of THC (including CBD) to be sold in all 50 states.

Since then, the market for CBD products has exploded across the nation. But since the product is still relatively new to most of us, you may be wondering: What is the difference between hemp and CBD? Read on for all the basics you need to know about hemp and CBD.

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What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a plant of the cannabis species. Hemp contains at most 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is what makes certain cannabis plants psychoactive. Since hemp’s concentration of THC is so low, it is non-psychoactive and cannot get you high. In contrast, marijuana plants contain between 5 and 20 percent THC, meaning they are psychoactive and can get you high.

What Is CBD?

CBD (aka cannabidiol) is a chemical compound that naturally occurs in the cannabis sativa plant. The cannabis sativa plant has two classifications — marijuana or hemp. CBD can come from either marijuana or hemp, but almost always comes from hemp, since recreational marijuana is illegal in many states. So if you’re buying any CBD product (from oil to gummies to lotion), it is most likely derived from hemp.

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Are CBD and Hemp the Same?

hemp cbd oil
Source: istock

Hemp is a plant, and CBD is an extract that typically comes from the hemp plant. Pretty much any CBD you buy will be derived from the hemp plant, since marijuana is not legal across the country yet. 

Basically, CBD and hemp are not exactly the same — but most CBD is made from hemp. It’s kind of a “not all rectangles are squares, but all squares are rectangles” situation.

Is All CBD Made from Hemp?

As mentioned above, CBD is almost always derived from hemp, since hemp is legal in all 50 states. As explained by Project CBD, under current federal law, the way the two varieties of the cannabis plant are identified is by measuring the THC concentration — if every part of the cannabis plant contains a THC concentration of “more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis,” then it’s marijuana; if it contains 0.3 percent or less, it’s hemp, and therefore federally legal to grow and sell.

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What is CBD Used For?

People take CBD in a variety of forms for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, people take CBD oil (aka a tincture) by dropping the oil underneath the tongue and holding it there for about a minute. There are also CBD gummies, pills, chocolates, sparkling waters, lotions, soaps, bath bombs, and more.

CBD can be used to alleviate symptoms that come with a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, and general stress. People have found that it also helps with conditions including epilepsy, muscle soreness, menstrual cramps, headaches or migraines, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammation, and joint pain.

Is CBD the Same as Hemp Seed Oil?

Hemp oil, aka hemp seed oil, is a carrier oil made from the seeds of the hemp plant, that does not contain any cannabinoids or any CBD, as explained by Anavii Market. Hemp oil can be used in cooking, and it is also sometimes used in skincare. Therefore, hemp oil is completely different than CBD, as it is not meant to help with any mental or physical conditions.

Many people also eat hemp seeds, which are the full seeds from the hemp plant. Hemp seeds are a “complete” protein, they are filled with essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and they’re packed with iron, Humming Hemp noted. For that reason, they are often ground up into protein powder, with ground-up hemp seeds being the only ingredient. But interestingly, most people instead opt for hemp hearts, which are hulled hemp seeds, and do not include the harder outer layer. These are still nutritious, even with the outer layer missing. 

Are All Hemp Products Legal?

Hemp products like hemp seed oil, hemp seeds, hemp hearts, and hemp fabrics have all been legal in the U.S. long before the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills became law, since those products are completely free of THC and CBD. And since hemp is no longer a controlled substance thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD it can be used and sold all across the U.S., in stores and online. Just make sure to always do your research and confirm that the company you are purchasing from is legitimate.

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