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Cannabis

Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What's the Difference?

The marijuana plants has so many positive uses that people in the future will think we were insane for ever making it illegal.
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What's the Difference?
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3 min read

This story appears in the May 2019 issue of Green Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

This past December, the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill may have sparked a new oil boom. For the first time, hemp -- the form of cannabis that doesn’t get you high -- became federally legal. The news heated up the already hot CBD oil market because CBD, the medicinal, nonpsychoactive compound in marijuana, is also found in hemp. In other words, CBD oil, as long as you derive it from hemp, is legal everywhere. 

But is it? Does this mean an explosion of new CBD products? And what’s hemp oil? Here’s the breakdown. 

Related: The Most Experienced Guy In Cannabis Has a Warning for You

Hemp Oil: It’s Straightforward 

By the Farm Bill’s definition, legal hemp products can contain up to 0.3 percent THC -- not enough to produce a psychoactive effect. Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds and used as a cooking oil, and in lotions and soaps. It contains no CBD or other cannabinoids.  

Related: Meet the Entrepreneur Selling Weed In Non-Cannabis Stores Across Europe

CBD Oil: It’s Complicated

What’s known as cannabidiol (CBD) oil is commonly extracted from the flowers of the hemp plant. But it can also be derived from a marijuana plant. Either way, its uses are typically more medicinal. Solid research on cannabis has been sorely hampered -- it’s a challenge to do big studies on a federally illegal substance. But a 2017 comprehensive review by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine found good evidence for cannabis reducing chronic pain. Athletes have known this, using CBD products to manage pain and to lessen inflammation. Others use CBD for depression and anxiety. Some people give it to their pets to lower stress. Perhaps most concretely, last June, the FDA approved the first-ever CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, to treat seizures associated with two severe forms of epilepsy.

The FDA, however, has not been so approving when it comes to CBD oil in general, no matter where you extract it from. Even today, if you have legal hemp-derived CBD, you can’t sell it as a dietary supplement, you can’t put it in ingestibles for interstate commerce, and you definitely can’t claim therapeutic or medicinal benefits without FDA approval. Although CBD oil is legal in some states, federally, it’s still a gray area: The FDA promises that it will “continue to take steps to make the pathways for the lawful marketing of these products more efficient.” In the meantime, entrepreneurs should take the big excitement over CBD oil from hemp with a dose of caution. 

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