Industrial Hemp CBD VS. Medical Marijuana CBD

marijuana card

Industrial Hemp CBD VS. Medical Marijuana CBD

By Discover CBD

cbdWe have all seen the recent news articles showcasing CBD oil and many of us would like to get involved… but where do you start?  In the event you didn’t already know, there are two sources for CBD oil and other CBD/Cannabidiol products: 1.)  Hemp CBD products made from industrial hemp and 2.) Medical marijuana CBD products derived from medical marijuana.  One is available widely online from sites like and the other is available at medical marijuana dispensaries across the US in states where medical marijuana is legal.

We recognized the need for an article focused on providing the cannabidiol buyer with an objective, unbiased look at buying cannabidiol in today’s market.  If you find yourself asking the question which is better, CBD oil from hemp or CBD oil from medical marijuana, this is a must read for you.

Recently I asked myself this very question and the more I read the more contradictory statements I found and the more confused I became. With an extensive background in medical marijuana and high THC strains I felt I had a good grasp on which one was “better” before I started researching for this article and could make a good argument for why medical marijuana derived CBD is better than hemp derived CBD.  More recently I have been introduced to CBD derived from hemp and after some preliminary research I was not so sure. Fortunately, I have connections from within the industry and so my mission began. I set out to talk to the largest names on both sides of the spectrum and get their opinions on this matter.

Delta Extrax

In this article we will explore the pros and cons of both sides of this debate and settle it, which is better?  And which one should you choose?  Industrial Hemp derived CBD or Medical Marijuana derived CBD?

The Difference between Hemp and Medical Marijuana

Right from the start there are some very obvious differences between these two options. Obviously, one is made from hemp and one is made from marijuana (!). Two completely different plants right? Well, its not quite that easy.  The USDA has this to say about the differences between “hemp” and “marijuana”.


“Marijuana and industrial hemp are different varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa L. Marijuana typically contains 3 to 15 percent THC on a dry-weight basis, while industrial hemp contains less than 1 percent (Blade, 1998; Vantreese, 1998). Most developed countries that permit hemp cultivation require use of varieties with less than 0.3 percent THC. However, the two varieties are indistinguishable by appearance. DeMeijer et al. (1992), in a study of 97 Cannabis strains, concluded that short of chemical analysis of the THC content, there was no way to distinguish between marijuana and hemp varieties.”


Immediately after reading this article I realized this is not the difference I was expecting.  While the USDA says that it takes a chemical analysis to tell the difference between hemp and medical marijuana, for most of us it would only take 2 seconds to notice the difference between a field of hemp and a medical marijuana grow operation.  As far as definition is concerned the two are not so far off from one another. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis and it would seem that the only real difference is that “marijuana” or more recent term “medical marijuana” is classified as a variety of cannabis with a high percent of THC and, occasionally, high CBD as well.

I recently asked for some clarification on the term “medical marijuana” from the International association for cannabinoid medicines and was answered by Franjo Grotenhermen who responded via email.  Here is what he had to say on the topic.


“There is no definition of the term ‘medical marijuana’. I do not use
this term. I usually use ‘medical cannabis’ to express in brief that
in this case cannabis is used medicinally. Thus, ‘medical cannabis’
is a term to express that parts off the cannabis plant, usually
flowers sometimes also leaves are used for medicinal purposes, an
abbreviation of ‘cannabis used for medicinal purposes’.”


 Transcribed from an email written by Franjo Grotenhermen of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines ( ).

I posed the same question to Marys Medicinals of Colorado who specialize in high CBD medical marijuana and they had a very similar response.  This is how they defined medical marijuana:


“Medical Marijuana aka ‘Cannabis’ (the scientific plant name) refers to the use of the cannabis plant, either in whole plant form, or derivatives of the plant, to treat any number of conditions including broad spectrum pain, epilepsy, cancer, wasting, spasticity, glaucoma and many more.”


Transcribed from an email response from Marys Medicinals by Graham Sorkin.

This made a lot of sense to me and while I don’t see anyone changing their use of “medical marijuana” anytime soon “cannabis used for medicinal purposes” is really what were all after anyhow right?

So the answer to my original question was even more foggy at this point If “hemp” and “medical marijuana” are both varieties of cannabis what makes hemp derived CBD different than medical marijuana derived CBD?  Again I turned to experts in the field to the elusive answer to this question.

And again I asked this to Franjo Grotenhermen of the International association for cannabinoid medicines and this is what he had to say.

“CBD is CBD. The human body does not care where the molecule comes

 Transcribed from an email written by Franjo Grotenhermen of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (

I guess this makes a lot of sense once put like this.  So, CBD is CBD is CBD.  It does not matter where the CBD comes from!  Well, not so fast… CBD/Cannabidiol isn’t always the whole story.

The Rest of the Story

First you need to realize that there are more than 70 different cannabinoids that have been identified so far and over 500 constituents of cannabis including various terpenoids and flavonoids. In fact, the US government holds multiple patents on various cannabinoids. They also hold patents defining these cannabinoids many medical benefits.  One of these cannabinoids which has shown a huge amount of potential is CBD or Cannabidiol and while its potential could not possibly be understated there is another cannabinoid making headlines as well. Tetrahydrocannabidiol otherwise known as THC.

There is no denying that “Medical Marijuana” regularly has higher levels of THC in its CBD plants and concentrates and this may be of benefit to some people.  In fact, THC has shown to have many benefits similar to CBD and it is commonly thought CBD and THC can have a synergistic effect when used in conjunction with one another.

The question then becomes: how much THC is needed?  Medical marijuana, of course, can have very high amounts of THC, but hemp also has THC,..just in much smaller amounts.  Joanie Bell from Hemp Health Inc. had this to say on the topic of CBD and THC.


“I always tell people, start with Hemp CBD, you will usually find a therapeutic benefit. If you don’t then you may need to look at MMJ as you may need to add a higher level of THC. Some ailments need higher levels of THC. That is the time to look at the MMJ side. Hemp is … a good starting point for many.”


So which is better? Hemp derived CBD or Medical marijuana derived CBD?  I believe, given the information I have found, that the reasonable and definitive question we should ask is: What are the pros and cons of both options and, most of all, what will be best for me and fit my lifestyle. In addition, legality within the state and country you live must be taken into consideration.

To make this easier we have included a quick reference guide showcasing the major points of both choices.  One thing you may notice, some things are not so easily categorized, for example “containing low amounts of THC”. This could be seen as a good or bad thing depending on your situation and what you’re looking for.

Medical Marijuana Derived CBD

-Can provide real relief from the use of cannabidiols

-Contains high levels of THC in conjunction with high levels of CBD for increased effectiveness in certain conditions

-May have the ability to have very high cannabinoid content in a small application

-Can be found in many varieties and strains with varying flavors, percentages and more.

-Can be hard to obtain or illegal depending on your location

-Carries the possibility of causing undesirable effects because of the higher THC and associated “high”.


Hemp Derived CBD

-Can provide real relief from the use of cannabidiols

-Hemp derived cannabidiol extracts are legal in all 50 states

-Is easily obtained through websites online

-Does not contain THC and will not give you an “associated” high

-Has the option of variety in flavor via flavored oils, e-juice, and tincture.

-Does not contain a significant enough amount of THC to be able to use the benefits of THC



At this point in time we have multiple states selling medical marijuana and other states looking to jump on board where there are other states that seemingly will never be open to the idea of legal cannabis. The decision on cannabidiol isn’t getting any easier, and company propaganda isn’t helping any. I think it’s obvious after talking to people from both sides of the spectrum that this choice is not cut and dry, and instead is something that you, the cannabidiol buyer, has to educate yourself on so you can make a fully informed decision.  While there are still choices for you to make, I now hope you have the information and facts to make an educated choice.

We wish to extend a warm thank you to all of our contributors.

1 Comment

  • Paige S.
    September 2, 2015

    Thank you for providing clarity on this topic.

Post a Comment