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Is CBD From Cannabis the Same as CBD From Cannabis?

This article is sponsored by PlusCBD Oil, a product line from CV Sciences (formerly CannaVest). CV Sciences is one of the leading suppliers and manufacturers of agricultural hemp-derived CBD bulk and finished products.

Yes, you read that headline correctly, and while this may seem like a rhetorical question with an obvious answer, the query has been popping up on forums, in dispensaries, and across specialty natural products stores within the cannabis industry and various media platforms. Let’s take a closer look at CBD types in an effort to try and glean some insight.


Hemp vs. Cannabis-Derived CBD

Hands cupping a growing cannabis plant

We know that hemp is a non-intoxicating variety of Cannabis Sativa L., but many people wonder if CBD sourced from low-THC/high-CBD strains of cannabis (in this instance, agricultural hemp at less than 0.3% THC concentration) is the same as or comparable to CBD sourced from higher-THC/lower-CBD cannabis (i.e., marijuana). To be clear, whether or not CBD from a low-THC vs. high-THC plant is better/worse/the same because of the presence of other non-CBD molecules (also known as the “entourage effect”) is an entirely different question, and one that could vary wildly depending on both the type of ailment/disease the patient is trying to relieve and his or her physiological differences.

CBD-rich strains of cannabis that categorize the plant as “hemp” (less than 0.3% THC content) vs. “marijuana” (greater than 0.3% THC) are driven by the expression of genotypes that direct their phenotypic characteristics. The genotypes of various cannabis strains dictate the biosynthetic pathways that result in different phenotypes and variations in cannabinoid, terpene, stilbene, and flavonoid profiles, or “fingerprints.”


The Science of CBD Molecules (or Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, Science!)

Science beakers and flasks

For those of you whose eyes have glazed over because you typically handle organic chemistry with extreme aversion, a) we don’t blame you, and b) bear with us here. Basically, the laws of physics, chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry remain the same whether a molecule is synthesized within and sourced from a cannabis hemp plant or a cannabis marijuana plant. A molecule of any compound is composed of a specific arrangement and configuration of atoms with a specific bonding pattern. The strain of cannabis plant, regardless of its percentage or ratio of CBD/THC, does not change these fundamental truths.

Furthermore, from a physiological standpoint, the human body does not recognize whether a CBD compound was sourced from hemp or a high-THC strain of cannabis – all of the body’s biologic activity, interactions with various enzymes, and receptors specific to CBD also remains the same. Human physiology does not make a conscious decision to treat CBD differently because it was sourced from whole-plant hemp material vs. whole-plant marijuana material.


An Orange by Any Other Name

Citrus fruit slices

However, although the CBD compound itself is the same, it’s a different matter as to whether CBD from different plants interact with their distinct cannabinoid and flavonoid profiles in a unique way. There are over 90 other cannabinoid compounds that have been characterized in cannabis, the majority of which have yet to be studied more extensively in biological systems. Thus, we’re still in the dark as to how exactly these cannabinoids interact with each other and whether they contribute to CBD’s non-euphoric, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, metabolic health, and neuroprotective benefits as part of an “entourage effect.”

We can draw an analogy from vitamin C derived from oranges being “different” than that from grapefruits or acerola cherries. Although it’s different in that it’s produced from different fruits, vitamin C retains its same chemical and biologic characteristics irrespective of the source.

The very same can be said about the CBD, CBC, CBG, THC, or any other cannabinoid not being “different” despite being sourced from different strains of cannabis. Although the CBD compound itself is the same whether it’s derived from agricultural hemp or a higher-THC cannabis strain, and the human body treats them the same, more research is needed to examine the relationship between CBD and other cannabinoids to see whether these additional compounds interact in a way that impacts the effects administered to the consumer.

In the near future we’ll be able to better determine how the entourage effect of different cannabis compounds working together creates a synergy of effects. There’s still much to discover about this wondrous plant!


Peschel W, Politi M. ¹H NMR and HPLC/DAD for Cannabis sativa L. chemotype distinction, extract profiling and specification. Talanta. 2015 Aug 1;140:150-65.

Onofri C, de Meijer EP, Mandolino G. Sequence heterogeneity of cannabidiolic- and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid-synthase in Cannabis sativa L. and its relationship with chemical phenotype. Phytochemistry. 2015 Aug;116:57-68.

Hillig KW, Mahlberg PG. A chemotaxonomic analysis of cannabinoid variation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae). Am J Bot. 2004 Jun;91(6):966-75.

Eager to read more about CBD and cannabinoids? Check out these 5 promising cannabis studies that explore how cannabinoids interact with the human body:

5 Promising Cannabis Studies That Explore How Cannabinoids Interact with the Human Body

  • Gilbert


    • watersotr

      gilbert, it’s easy. the law is still based on the same arguments as has been the case since the Hearst and DuPont families first caused our government to outlaw marijuana – the health of We the People has little if anything to do with the Federal Government. Hemp threatens the lumber, paper and cotton industries and in the past 50 years we must add the pharmaceutical industry to that list. oh and let’s not forget the private prison industry.

  • evoldog

    A good friend’s wife is in a losing battle with lung cancer, extensive, with liver mets. It and the chemo are now taking a heavy toll, and we’re trying DESPERATELY to get a handle on CBD oil. We have been made to understand that anything from hemp is not going to go above 50%, and that 80%-90% is needed to do any good. HOWEVER, in searching supposedly high percentage CBD oils, all we end up seeing is maybe 26%, as per the HIgh Times SoCial 2017 top ten. Can someone PLEASE straighten this out for us – the lady has cancer, it has to be likely the highest percentage of CBD, and we really don’t care if it’s an oil, edibles, or plant material we have to make our own from (unless it involves thousands of dollars in new equipment, and/or a substantial turnaround time period), we just need clarification on exactly what product she needs, as well as help getting it! Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer.

    • I’m terribly sorry about your friend. And that no one answered. CBD Oil can be tricky with many kinds, strengths & milligrams but it is just as good from Hemp as it is from ‘regular’ cannabis. For cancer however, CBD is probably not enough. Pure Cannabis Oil (or RSO) is the best known protocol for cancer treatment. It’s thought that THC along with CBD (and other Cannabinoids) are important to work together to assist with arresting cancer cell growth and with managing the side effects of chemo. If you’re in a state that allows medical cannabis, you should be able to find RSO at a dispensary. They should have a choice of ratios of THC:CBD. If you can’t tolerate THC at all, then make sure it’s at least a ‘full spectrum’ CBD Oil which will have a ‘rainbow’ of cannabinoids. Don’t worry about percentages, but do get the highest amount of milligrams you can find. I hope that helps!

      • evoldog

        Thanks. Not sure why I didn’t see this until now. She’s still hanging tough, so I’ll pass this along. I know we got her doing around 98% CBD oil, not sure about the rest you mention here, hopefully it will add to her regimine.

    • Robert Conroy

      Go on youtube and search for Rick Simpson RSO.
      He says CBD is the wrong treatment for cancer. It has to have high THC to work at all.

  • I would really like to see something like +CBD oil or others, sold in an oil that can be used to fill vaporizing cartridges. I got some Koi CBD oild and can consume it orally or put in in a vape cartridge and the strawberry in vaping is very tasty. However, it is made using CBD Isolate, and would really like to find CBD as a vape cartridge or fillers (oil) that was made using full spectrum hemp extract like +CBD Oil does. Do such products exist?