Cannabis strains that contain significant levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid responsible for weed’s psychoactive effect, are bred from sativa, indica, and hybrid strains of the cannabis Sativa plant. Hemp, on the other hand, is typically distinguished from psychoactive weed if it has a THC content of 0.3% or less. That’s not enough to get you high. In fact, if you smoked a pound of hemp, you’re more likely to have a massive headache than a noticeable high. Most medical and recreational strains have a THC content of at least 5% and at most 30%, a much higher amount of THC than what hemp contains.
It is certainly possible to breed weed strains to have low THC to CBD to ratios (meaning strains that have a higher quantity of CBD than THC). But there is an easy way to get THC-free CBD, and that’s to use hemp. Although hemp contains .3% or less of THC, it has significant amounts of CBD (anywhere from 10% to 20% CBD) as well as other non-psychoactive cannabinoids and terpenes, volatile compounds responsible for a plant’s smell as well as a unique profile of therapeutic benefits.
The 50 states under the protection of the Farm Bill. Because the CBD hemp flower they produce and distribute comes from industrial hemp, it is technically legal. If you do choose to purchase hemp flower and you live in a state that has not legalized any kind of cannabis, be prepared for potential pushback or legal intervention since hemp CBD flowers look and smell just like high-THC cannabis buds.
Whether the CBD-rich product you’re interested in comes from a high-THC strain of cannabis or hemp, odds are it will be far more beneficial to consume than synthetic CBD, or a cannabinoid-like compound created in a science lab. Because CBD has gained a massive amount of attention in the recent years due to its medical properties, some companies are trying to profit off of that hype by marketing their products as CBD when in reality, they are made with substances that are not derived from the cannabis plant. This puts both patients and the industry at risk. As Michael Bronstein, co-founder of American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp said, “This situation is akin to someone filling drinking bottles with gasoline and selling it under the label of ‘vodka’.”
Nothing beats natural cannabis, and synthetic cannabis can actually be dangerous. A year ago in Utah, the topic gained attention when 50 people became sick after consuming what they thought was CBD. It turned out that the product they had been using was mislabeled—it was actually a product containing a synthetic cannabinoid called 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA, or 4-CCB for short. In addition to getting people sick, synthetic products labeled as natural CBD delegitimize a nascent industry that continues to be a politically divisive.
If CBD is your aim, make sure it comes from cannabis. Be it a low-THC hemp product or a strain containing psychoactive amounts of THC, your best bet is the real thing.