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Q: What’s the difference between CBD and marijuana?
A: Like all plants, marijuana contains many components, but two of these are known for their specific effects: THC and CBD. THC produces the hallmark feeling of a high whereas CBD has therapeutic properties but does not produce a high.
CBD is also found in industrial hemp, a plant from the same botanical family as marijuana that contains only trace amounts of THC—not enough to produce a psychoactive effect. By law, hemp plants can contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. In comparison, marijuana contains between 8 and 30 percent THC, depending on the plant variety.
Q: Where does the CBD in supplements come from?
A: The industrial hemp plant is the source of CBD in supplements, creams, gels, and lotions found in health food stores and other retail outlets. In states where marijuana is legal, dispensaries may sell CBD products made from marijuana plants.
Q: Is CBD from hemp and marijuana the same thing?
A: Theoretically, yes. A pure extract of CBD—without traces of any other plant compounds—would be the same, regardless of which plant it came from. However, CBD extracts may contain other plant components, either by design or through contamination. “Full spectrum” extracts intentionally contain multiple plant components that may also be beneficial. Extracts of only CBD may inadvertently contain other plant ingredients if the manufacturing process isn’t tightly controlled.
Depending on the extract, one that comes from the marijuana plant may contain a significant amount of THC. Extracts from hemp can’t contain significant levels of THC because the plant itself contains only trace amounts.
Q: Can CBD make you fail a drug test?
A: It shouldn’t, because drug tests look for THC, not CBD. However, if a CBD product contains enough THC for a test to detect levels, failure is possible.
Some CBD products derived from hemp are labeled “0% THC,” and if they come from a reputable company, the product will contain exactly what the label says it does. But the extreme popularity of CBD has attracted some suspect manufacturers.
There have been reports of failed drug tests after using a CBD product. One woman who failed a drug test and lost her job is suing a CBD manufacturer whose label falsely claimed that there was no THC in its CBD vape product. In other cases, independent testing has found undisclosed THC in some CBD oils.
To avoid mislabeled products, look for established companies that disclose their testing methods and let you see a Certificate of Analysis from a third-party lab, either on the company’s website or by request. Such manufacturers typically make high-quality products with accurate labels.
Did You Know? Hemp seeds are a source of healthy fats, but not CBD, which is extracted from hemp leaves, flowers, or stalks.
Q: Can you take CBD on a plane?
A: According to the TSA, agents don’t specifically look for CBD when checking bags, but if they happen to see something labelled “CBD” or “cannabidiol,” they will refer you to a law enforcement officer. It seems that the TSA equates all CBD with marijuana, even if the CBD comes from the hemp plant. For updates on the TSA position, check tsa.gov.
Types of CBD Supplements
Some products are called “CBD” while others are labeled as “hemp extract.” Regardless of the name, in supplements, balms, creams, and lotions sold in health food and other stores, the CBD comes from industrial hemp plants that do not produce a “high.”
Full Spectrum: Products described as “full spectrum” include additional components that are naturally found in the hemp plant such as terpenes; these products contain other substances that work together for a synergistic effect. CBD “isolates” are strictly CBD.
Hemp seeds and oils vs extracts: CBD may be extracted from the stalks, flowers, or leaves of the hemp plant. Supplement labels often state which parts of the plant an extract comes from. In contrast, hemp seeds are a source of healthy fats, but not CBD. The seeds can be eaten whole, and hemp oil made from seeds is available in supplements and as a culinary oil.
If you’re looking for CBD from hemp, look for a hemp extract from stalks, flowers, and/or leaves. The Supplements Facts may contain these details. If the product is made from only hemp seeds, it is designed to be a source of healthy fats, rather than CBD.