Chemically-speaking, there is no difference between CBD derived from hemp and CBD derived from marijuana. A molecule doesn’t care where it hails from. But that’s only if you are dealing with pure CBD isolate. Historically, what has been more commonly available is CBD concentrate oil which retains a low double-digit percentage of non-CBD compounds. These are the oil’s origin story, and they can have serious effects on the human body. That’s why many cannabis devotees insist that marijuana-derived CBD is superior: it retains more of the helpful phytochemical complex that contributes to the Entourage Effect, while CBD derived from industrial hemp, typically grown for agricultural feed, is more likely to retain pesticides or compounds that aren’t useful. And it tastes like hay.
However, CBD concentrates sourced from industrial hemp can be an order of magnitude cheaper than their marijuana-derived counterparts. Origin might not make a difference if you are formulating a topical with strong scents and/or penetrants such as menthol or capsaicin. If CBD is one ingredient of many rather than the star of the show, hemp-derived sources can make a lot of sense. Full spectrum marijuana-derived CBD oil, often upheld as the gold standard of CBD concentrates, does not actually offer a taste advantage compared to industrial hemp-derived CBD oil; while it doesn’t taste like hay, it still tastes terrible. The compounds that improve the performance of cannabinoids have strong opinions of their own.
Some companies even have their own farms, allowing them to oversee the entire seed-to-sale process. CBD concentrates from these farms contain fewer pesticide residues because CBD is the goal rather than a something extracted from a waste product. This can keep both costs and undesirable residues down, but it’s not a feasible option for most startups. Every company has to weigh the cost and benefits of these sourcing options and make decisions based on their priorities and means.
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