Does CBD Come From Industrial Hemp?

A question I’ve heard a lot lately is whether hemp derived CBD comes from “Industrial” hemp – the same plant that rope is made from. In order to answer that question I thought it would help to take a very quick look at the hemp family tree.

Cannabis is a genus in the Cannabaceae (Hemp) Family. The hackberry or nettle tree as well as hops, the ingredient used to flavor beer, also belong to the same family. 

Genus Humulus (Hops)

Genus Cannabis includes three species of plants. Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis Ruderalis, is the least known of the species. It is a low THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive compound in cannabis), autoflowering variety, meaning that it flowers based on maturity rather that light cycles like the other two species.

When you hear the word cannabis you probably think of marijuana. But did you know that  marijuana belongs to a family of 270 species?

Cannabis Indica is rich in cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. Indica is a short a bushy plant that is not very suitable for fiber production. It’s flowers are used for medicinal and recreational purposes.

The third species is Cannabis Sativa, “industrial” hemp. Sativa is a tall plant with tough fibrous stalks that is very well suited to the production of fibers, rope, paper and a variety of textiles. The seeds are also used for food – either eaten whole, pressed into hemp oil (the kind you find in your grocery, or health food store), and can also be ground into flour. This variety of hemp is very low in beneficial phytocannabinoids.

But Hemp derivered CBD also comes from the cannabis sativa plant. 
So that means that CBD is extracted from industrial hemp, right? Well, yes and no. 

Human beings intervened at some point and began to breed certain cannabis sativa (hemp) strains to be more fibrous for industrial purposes (fiber and textiles), while breeding others to produce higher (or lower) amounts of certain phytocannabinoids like THC or CBD. 

According to Colorado Department of Agriculture, industrial hemp is defined as any plant of the Genus Cannabis with less than 0.3% THC. Hemp with over 0.3% THC is defined as  marijuana.

Hemp derived CBD must legally have less than 0.3% THC, but that still doesn’t mean that CBD oil comes from the hemp plant that rope is made of. While some sativa plants were bred to be tougher, other strains were bred to be richer in beneficial phytocannabinoids, like CBD, while still being low enough in THC to be defined as hemp.

Good quality hemp CBD oil is derived from the flowers and leaves of these phytocannabinoid rich strains of hemp – not the ones used to make rope.

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