Article written by
Dipak HemrajHead of Research and Education
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Distinguishing CBD flower from weed can be difficult with an untrained eye. However, you can tell them apart by the shape and size of the plant and its leaves.
CBD buds and cannabis buds are similar in appearance. The main difference between CBD flower and marijuana flower is one you cannot see: The chemical composition of CBD and THC within the plant determines its intoxicating and therapeutic effects.
What Is CBD Flower?
CBD flower is the flower of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. It is called CBD flower about the high amount of cannabidiol (CBD) it contains.
C. sativa has two main strains, hemp, and marijuana. The hemp plant contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas the marijuana plant can contain upwards of 30%. Both hemp and marijuana contain CBD in varying amounts.
CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, active compounds found in C. sativa that interact with an essential system in the brain and body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). THC is a psychoactive compound associated with the intoxicating effects of marijuana, and CBD is not as psychoactive as THC, so it does not cause the “high” associated with marijuana.
CBD flower can be smoked, vaped, or used to make edibles. As CBD does lift mood and causes a physiological reaction, it is technically psychoactive, even if it is not intoxicating like THC is.
Potential Benefits of CBD
There is emerging research into the potential benefits of CBD, causing it to gain more and more attention. Due to the impact it has on the ECS in the body, CBD may be able to help with:
- Chronic pain
- Neurological disorders
- Chronic diseases
Smoking or vaping the CBD flower will maximize absorption and utilization of the CBD within the body. The lungs readily absorb it straight into the bloodstream, and its effects can be felt fast and strong.
Orally taking CBD reduces its availability to the body because it must be metabolized before reaching the bloodstream. CBD products taken orally will have a weaker effect and take longer to be effective.
Flower is also considered safer than other CBD products, such as CBD oils, because they require less processing and have no added ingredients.
Risks and Drawbacks to Using CBD
While smoking and vaping may be the best methods for immediate effects, there are risks associated with these methods, so they are not recommended in healthcare settings.
Smoking CBD also means no way around the distinctive smell and taste of hemp and weed. This issue could be avoided by using other CBD products (like capsules or gummies) or cooking with CBD oil in foods.
While taking CBD is considered relatively safe, some possible mild-to-moderate side effects include nausea, dry mouth, and lethargy.
CBD Flower and Weed: Similarities and Differences
It’s crucial to know how to tell the difference between CBD flower and weed because there can be serious repercussions if you accidentally buy or smoke the wrong one.
You do not want to fail a drug test at work, get caught driving while intoxicated, or, depending on which state you live in, get caught with a prohibited drug in your possession.
CBD flower and marijuana are very similar in appearance because they are two variations of the same plant, C. sativa. They also smell similar because they both contain compounds called terpenes which are responsible for the distinct cannabis aroma.
It can also be confusing that CBD flower and marijuana contain CBD and THC in varying amounts.
The differences between CBD flower and marijuana are significant but hard to spot. The main difference is the THC content, and CBD flower contains less than 0.3% THC, whereas marijuana can have more than 30% THC. Because of this, CBD flower will not produce the same intoxicating effect as marijuana, and CBD is non-intoxicating, while THC has psychoactive effects.
Another difference between CBD flower and marijuana is that CBD or hemp is legal in all 50 United States due to the 2018 Farm Bill. However, it is still common for marijuana to be illegal or prohibited. As mentioned above, this means there are different amounts of risk associated with buying CBD flower or marijuana depending on where you live.
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How to Tell CBD Flower From Weed
Telling the difference between CBD flower and weed is difficult if you have an untrained eye. With experience, people can notice differences in the smell and appearance of the flower to help determine whether it is CBD or weed.
However being able to identify the difference is essential no matter how experienced you are, so here are some tips.
Hemp plants grow tall and thin compared to marijuana plants, which are shorter and bushier in appearance. Marijuana plants also produce more flowers in dense bunches, whereas hemp flowers are more sparse.
Hemp plants grow thinner leaves than marijuana plants, which tend to have thicker, fatter leaves.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is CBD flower different from weed?
CBD flower comes from the hemp plant, contains low levels of THC, does not have an intoxicating effect, and is legal. Weed (cannabis or marijuana, as opposed to hemp), on the other hand, comes from the marijuana plant, contains high levels of THC that produce a physical “high,” and is not yet legalized in many states.
How can you tell if a flower is CBD?
It can be difficult to physically tell the difference between the two because they look similar. The differences can be seen more in the plant’s shape than in the flowers themselves. The hemp plant usually is tall and thin, with slender leaves, whereas the marijuana plant is generally shorter and bushier, with thick leaves and more flowers. However, as most people do not see the plant during the growth stage, telling the flower apart from its appearance alone can be very difficult.