Hemp and Cannabis CBD: What’s the Difference?

Interest in cannabidiol, or CBD, products is growing, but there is some confusion over whether the compound differs when it’s obtained from hemp or cannabis. We explain the variations between the two terms, and hemp- and cannabis-derived CBD.


  • “Hemp” refers to specific strains or varieties of the cannabis plant that consistently have no more than 0.3% THC in the flowering heads, branches or leaves.
  • CBD is a compound and remains the same regardless of whether it is derived from hemp or cannabis.
  • Hemp-based products are not currently available from
  • Products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, are becoming increasingly popular due to producers’ reported effects. However, there is some confusion over whether CBD differs when it is derived from hemp or cannabis. Below, we break down common misconceptions about the CBD compound and the differences that exist between hemp and cannabis.

What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis?

“Hemp” and “cannabis” are terms for the same species of plant, cannabis sativa. While the two have a similar appearance, the term “hemp” is used to classify cannabis plants that contain no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As with cannabis, Health Canada regulates hemp production and controls the type of hemp strains that producers are allowed to grow. Health Canada reports that because these strains contain so little THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, they cannot produce the “intoxicating effect” typically associated with cannabis use.

Hemp and cannabis also differ in how they are used. Cannabis is commonly cultivated for recreational and medical consumption, specifically because of its THC content, while hemp is used to make a variety of products, including fabric, paper, building materials, foods (including cooking oil and hemp seeds) and CBD-infused items, such as oils.

Do Hemp and Cannabis Produce Different Types of CBD?

In short, no. The molecule remains the same, regardless of which type of plant it comes from, similar to other compounds, like terpenes.

Interestingly, recent research, such as a 2019 study done at the University College London, has shown that combining CBD with THC reduces some of the psychoactive effects of THC. To lower your risk of experiencing unwanted effects (such as paranoia or anxiety), choose a cannabis product with balanced levels of the two.

Where Can I Purchase CBD Products?

Hemp products are not currently available through, but cannabis-derived CBD products are. To ensure the cannabis you are consuming has been regulated, it’s best to always purchase legal products.

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