If you're new to cannabis and unsure about the difference between hemp and CBD, you are not alone. “Hemp” is a common name sometimes used to describe the thousands of varieties of cannabis, and the confusion stems, in part, from the fact that cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from only some cannabis plants. Here we will briefly discuss the difference between common European hemp and the cannabinoid known as CBD.

The term “hemp” is a Middle English word from the Old English “hænep,” and it is a common name for Cannabis sativa, an annual plant of the Cannabaceae family. Sativa marijuana varieties are rich in CBD and typically low in Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid that gives users the high associated with pot.

You should note, as our ancestors did, that industrial hemp plants are extremely versatile and useful for making paper, ropes, textiles, and even building materials. “Hemp” is also used as a term to describe the course fibers yielded from the plant. Hemp seeds are also a nutrient-rich food source, but edible products made from common hemp won't offer you the therapeutic benefits products made from CBD-dominant varieties of marijuana might.

Marijuana contains more than 100 known compounds called cannabinoids, which are unique to cannabis plants alone, and CBD is one of the most prominent and most-studied by scientists. CBD is found in various concentration levels across the thousands of different hemp varieties and it has been touted by many as a safe, all-natural treatment option for a wide array of ailments ranging from anxiety and pain management to psychosis and seizures. However, as of this writing there is no consensus in the scientific community as to the effectiveness of CBD, so we must support ongoing research.

Hemp is one of our oldest known cultivated crops, and the anecdotal evidence of the positive benefits some patients experience with CBD warrant further study. With a better understanding of the difference between what hemp and CBD are, you can turn your attentions to learning more about the subtle differences between CBD-dominant strains.