Comparative Guide: The Difference Between Cannabis and CBD Hemp Flower

While many people are familiar with cannabis flower, CBD hemp flower is a relatively new jargon. In fact, few people will tell the difference between the two. If you can’t differentiate the two, don’t fret because both names are often being used interchangeably on a daily basis and the legalization of marijuana and hemp is still in its initial stages in most countries across the globe.

So, what’s the difference between cannabis and CBD hemp flowers? Well, there are many differences between the two types of flowers in terms of visual aspects, cannabinoid content, applications (or uses), effect profiles, and legality of CBD and other products derived from them. However, before we dive deeper into this subject, we’d like you to understand the difference between cannabis and CBD hemp to keep you on the loop whenever we talk about their flowers. Let’s go straight into it.

Cannabis vs. CBD Hemp

Hemp is essentially a cannabis plant that is commercially harvested for its stalks, seeds, and flowers. In particular, the flowers are harvested for its high cannabinoid (CBD) content. On the other hand, the Cannabis plant is mostly harvested for its relaxing, euphoric, and psychoactive properties. Unlike CBD hemp, the stalks and seeds of cannabis aren’t used commercially in textile industries or as a food source. On the contrary, the cannabis plant is grown for its highly resinous flowers containing a high amount of THC cannabinoids.

Cannabis vs. CBD Hemp Flowers

  1. Visual Aspects

The cannabis plant has bigger leaves and bushier in appearance. It also produces dense flowers. CBD Hemp, on the other hand, has skinnier leaves that tend to concentrate towards the top. It also grows much taller and produces less dense flowers.

  1. Cannabinoid Content

The genus Cannabis sativa contains more than 100 chemical cannabinoids but the amounts of these cannabinoids tend to vary between marijuana (cannabis) flowers and CBD hemp flowers.

The most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis flowers is the tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC)—the cannabinoid that’s associated with the psychoactive effect of the plant. THC levels in cannabis flower can reach 30% depending on the strain.

CBD hemp flowers contain a high amount of CBD (non-psychoactive cannabinoid) but their THC content is low and doesn’t exceed the legal limit of 0.3%.  The interaction of CBD with receptors in the body’s immune and central nervous system can offer a plethora of medicinal benefits, and that’s why CBD hemp flowers are more popular.

  1. Effect Profiles

As hinted above, CBD hemp flowers have low THC content, which implies that they won’t have any intoxicating effect on the user. Put simply, you won’t get high off CBD hemp flowers. Instead, you will feel more relaxed, alert, and free from any physical and mental discomfort. On the flip side, ingesting cannabis flowers will get you high due to its high THC levels. 

  1. Applications

CBD hemp flowers and other products derived from it are often used as dietary supplements and can easily be found among other over-the-counter products in health stores, specialty stores, and pharmacies. The flower and its derivative products are often used to restore chemical balance in the body and enhancing overall quality of the user’s life.

You can only find cannabis flowers in medical and recreational facilities depending on the country you live in. They are mostly used for medicinal purposes to combat a wide range of conditions such as chronic pain, sleep disorders, tumors, inflammations, neurological diseases, and more.

  1. The legality of derived CBD

CBD (and a wide range of other products) can be derived from cannabis and CBD hemp flowers. However, owing to the unique characteristics of each flower, many people assume that the CBD derived from each flower is different in one way or another.

Well, according to IHF LLC Flower’s chief scientist, they are not! He argues that “the structure and chemical characteristics of CBD and its associated pharmacology are similar and the extraction source doesn’t count.” 

However, their legality varies. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp flower-derived CBD is considered to be legal if it contains 0.3% THC (or less) and cannabis flower-derived CBD is illegal and is considered to be a controlled substance irrespective of the level of THC.


Understanding the key differences between cannabis and CBD hemp flower is important in picking the right cannabinoid product. Hopefully, using the above comparative guide, it’s now easy to choose between the two.

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