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Which CBD Source Is Right For You?

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What’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Is the CBD produced from them different?
Is industrial hemp that makes rope the same as hemp that makes CBD?

These are just a few of the questions you might have if you’re new to CBD.

Knowing the answers to those questions (and others) will help you make an educated choice about which CBD is best for you.

The Different Types of Cannabis Plants.

Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants. There are three primary classifications in the cannabis plant family: indica, sativa and ruderalis.

Whether Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa are separate species is a matter of debate. And while marijuana is a member of both the indica or sativa families, hemp is a member of the sativa family only. 

If you’re looking to purchase CBD, you can’t go wrong with CBD produced from therapeutic hemp.

Botanists disagree as to whether ruderalis qualifies as a separate species or subspecies. Because of its “autoflowering” ability (and other characteristics), botanists use ruderalis to breed hybrid strains of cannabis.

The physical differences in the plants are more a reflection of how they adapt and thrive in different climates than their cannabinoid makeup.  

Indica has more relaxing properties, while sativa is known for its uplifting and energetic properties. It’s an easy way to compartmentalize them, but even that distinction is debatable. What really matters with CBD are the ingredients in the product. (For guidance on deciphering CBD product labels see “CBD Insider Buying Tips.” 

What’s the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

The most important difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp, by law, must have less than 0.3% percent THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis). Depending upon the strain, marijuana can have between 15% and around 30% THC. Marijuana will get you high; hemp will not.

Another difference is how they are grown. Hemp plants are generally grown closer together (as close as 4 inches). Hemp can be grown in a variety of climates and is ideal for indoor growing.

Marijuana requires a controlled environment. It thrives in warm, humid atmospheres with stable lighting. Medical cannabis plants are typically grown about six feet apart.   

CBD Sources

CBD can be sourced from both hemp and marijuana. Following are the three sources for CBD:

  1. Industrial Hemp-Derived CBD. Hemp is used for a wide range of industrial purposes, including clothing and textiles, building materials, plastic and composite materials, paper, cord and rope, cosmetics and food. Hemp has also been used as a pesticide-free means of controlling weeds and invasive plants. (Their dense characteristics crowd out weeds and kill them off). There is ongoing research about how to use hemp as a source for biofuel. The possibilities are endless.

    That said, hemp makes the lowest-quality CBD product because the cannabinoid in industrialized hemp is limited. This hemp is not cultivated to produce buds (the flowery part). Because this hemp isn’t grown specifically for its CBD, it takes a lot of plant material to extract sufficient CBD. Plus, because hemp absorbs heavy metals and chemicals from the soil, the more of the plant you use, the more likely you are to get a high level of contaminants. 

    That being the case, you should probably avoid CBD extracted from industrial hemp plants. There have been reports of people becoming ill from it as it often contains chemicals and ingredients not listed on the label.

    The caveat? Some larger supplement companies are using industrialized hemp that is non-GMO and pesticide-free to make CBD, which they test for contaminants.
  2. Therapeutic Hemp-Derived CBD. This type of hemp is grown specifically for medicinal purposes. It has a higher concentration of CBD, terpenes and other cannabinoids than industrial-derived hemp. Companies that use this type of hemp generally know all the details about how the hemp was grown and how the CBD was extracted and packaged.

    There is no difference between CBD produced from therapeutic-derived hemp and marijuana-derived CBD.
  3. Marijuana-Derived CBD. Marijuana-derived CBD is sold only in states where recreational marijuana use is legal. There are generally quite a few options to choose from. Note: CBD sold in states where medical marijuana is legal (and not recreational) can be quite expensive, and there may be a limited selection available.

If you’re looking to purchase CBD, you can’t go wrong with CBD produced from therapeutic hemp: It is more widely available (and more popular) because it's now legal across the United States, and is generally well-tolerated. Marijuana-derived CBD oil has medicinal benefits as well, but it can be difficult to obtain unless you live in a state where it’s legal, or you have a medical marijuana card.

All Zebra CBD products are made from therapeutic-derived hemp. Our independent labs test every product batch twice to ensure it contains the ingredients in the amounts listed on the label. When it comes to safe and effective CBD products, trust Zebra CBD.

John Wood frequently writes for coaching services and health-based organizations. He is a big believer in the power of CBD, and has written extensively on the subject. 

About the Author

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John Wood

After a career in sales, John quit his job in 2004 to become a freelance copywriter. Having taken journalism in college, he had always harbored a desire to earn a living as a writer. John frequently writes for coaching services and health-based organizations. He especially enjoys writing articles that are inspirational, motivating and help make people’s lives better. John is a big believer in the power of CBD, and has written extensively on the subject. Find him at

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