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You don’t need to take a course when it comes to buying CBD, but there are several terms you’ll want to understand to make the product purchase that’s right for you and even legal in your state. Basically, you should understand what cannabis, hemp, and marijuana are and how they factor into your purchase decision.  It’s actually pretty simple, and we’ll try to untangle the terms so you can shop with confidence.


Cannabis is the link

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants with three primary species: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.  The flowering plant is believed to have originated in Central Asia or Tibet's steppes and has been cultivated by humans for thousands, if not tens of thousands of years.[1] Both hemp and marijuana are varieties of Cannabis sativa, but we’ll get back to them in just a bit. First, a bit more about cannabis.


There are over 500 distinct compounds in cannabis, including cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and omega fatty acids. Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals thought to fight off free radicals. Terpenoids are aromatic plant compounds found in high concentrations in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are naturally-occurring chemicals that interact with natural receptors in the brain and body to affect mood, appetite, pain response, and immunity, among other effects. The cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the primary psychoactive in cannabis. The other well-known cannabinoid in cannabis is CBD, which has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects (See Confused About CBD and THC? Here’s What You Need to Know).




Breaking down hemp versus marijuana

Now that you know something about cannabis let’s look at the difference between hemp and marijuana.  For some, the distinction is simple – marijuana will get you high, and hemp won’t. That’s true, but there’s more to know about the two in chemical makeup, use and cultivation, and legality. Both hemp and marijuana belong to the cannabis Sativa species. However, in the United States, marijuana is classified as any cannabis Sativa plant with over 0.3 percent THC. Hemp is defined as a Cannabis plant with 0.3 percent or less THC, so it won’t get you high.


From a historical perspective, hemp is considered one of the oldest known crops, used for making paper, textiles, and cord products. Today, it’s used for making clothing, paper, fiberboard, environmentally friendly plastic alternatives, and more. For years, the Federal Government did not distinguish hemp from other cannabis plants, all of which were illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.(CSA). The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the list of controlled substances. If a hemp plant has more than 0.3 percent THC, it is considered marijuana.


Marijuana continues to be classified as a schedule 1 substance under the CSA. Marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, depending on state laws, can be smoked, put in foods, or even brewed in tea. Marijuana is legal for medicinal and recreational use in 11 states for adults over the age of 21 and legal for medicinal use in 33 states.


CBD from hemp or marijuana, which shall it be?

As you look across the landscape of CBD products, you’ll find hemp CBD versus marijuana CBD offerings.    Hemp-derived CBD comes from industrial hemp plants, and marijuana-derived CBD is sourced from marijuana plants. The molecular structure of the plants is the same. Still, the federal legal issues apply. The federal government classifies hemp-derived CBD as legal if it contains 0.3 percent THC or less. At the same time, marijuana-derived CBD is illegal and classified as a controlled substance regardless of THC.


At the state level, CBD products' legality is a different issue, which can lead to confusion. States where medical marijuana is legal to allow for the use of CBD extract in products. States that haven't legalized medical marijuana allow limited use of cannabis oils if they contain a low THC level and a high-level CBD.[2]



Shop Lab+Blends Hemp-Derived, THC-Free CBD Products

Lab+Blends products are all made with CBD from industrial hemp. Furthermore, since our topical products are isolates, which means all the other cannabis compounds and impurities have been removed, you don’t ever have to worry about a trace amount of CBD, which can be found in full-spectrum CBD products. (See: What you need to know about the cannabinoid spectrum range).





[1] Nicole Richter, “Where Does Cannabis Originate From? [Facts and Myths],” Way of Leaf, 19, March 2020.
[2] Nagele-Piazza, Lisa, “The ABCs of THC: What Employers Need to Know about Marijuana Laws,” SHRM, January 30, 2019.