CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil: The Incredibly Important Differences

CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil

When it comes to listing the differences between CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil, it’s probably easier to first focus on the similarities, there are far less. The two are only similar in that they come from the same plant (cannabis) and they’re both fats. Their methods of production, their uses, their chemical makeup and their legal status are wildly different.

Hemp oil is an industrial additive for food, candles, shampoos and lotion. CBD oil is a medicine, as it contains high concentrations of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp oil is useful for the properties of the oil itself, while CBD oil is useful for its chemical content; the oil is merely a delivery vehicle.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD has broad therapeutic applications. Studies have shown it to be effective (in varying degrees) for anxiety, nausea, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, mood disorders, chemotherapy- or AIDS-induced anorexia and a host of other ailments. See this in-depth guide to CBD for more information.

Unfortunately, at the federal level and in many U.S. states, most CBD oil is technically illegal because it comes from pharmaceutical-grade cannabis sativa and contains at least trace amount of THC, a Schedule I drug according to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. This is the same classification as heroin, and the law considers pot more dangerous than cocaine, despite decades of science that soundly refutes that assertion.

See related article: The US Government Has A Patent on Cannabinoids

CBD — whether it comes in oil form or in some other iteration — has almost no potential for abuse, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), its psychoactive counterpart. CBD interacts with the body’s natural cannabinoid system just as THC does, but CBD doesn’t alter perception on a conscious level. In other words — though it may affect appetite, mood and general physical functions — CBD doesn’t cause the euphoric high experienced after ingesting whole marijuana or THC extract.

What Is Hemp oil?

Hemp oil, on the other hand, has virtually no cannabinoids that interact with the body’s neurochemical systems. Hemp oil can be used either to cook or preserve foods — just like coconut or olive oil — or it can serve as a machine lubricant.

Some products that include hemp oil are soaps, shampoos, lotions and candles. Or, if you want to project the holistic vibe with your sex partner, personal lubricants.

Federal law makes it difficult to cultivate hemp in the U.S. because it’s basically the same species as the marijuana you find in your local dispensary or from a street dealer. But the difference is profound; most industrial hemp has less than half a percent of THC or CBD in the plant itself, and typically less than one percent in the oil concentrate.

CBD Oil vs Hemp OilSo to speak, the difference between the marijuana you ingest (medically or recreationally) and industrial hemp is like the difference between a Mastiff and a chihuahua.

How Do They Make CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil?

Manufacturers obtain hemp oil through a mechanical process, while companies isolate CBD oil chemically. Each oil also comes from different parts of the plant.

Hemp oil comes from the seeds of the plant that go into presses in much the same way olives do to produce olive oil. No chemical reaction takes place; the press simply squeezed out the fats that are stored in the hemp seeds.

CBD oil, however, requires a more complicated process to obtain. The producer crushes up the flowers, stems and leaves of the plant and combines them with a solvent, like butane, under pressure. This is called the “solvent extraction” method. Once you force the solvent through the plant matter, dissolving the cannabinoids and other active chemicals, you let the solvent evaporate and you’re left with CBD-rich oil.

There are more steps to solvent extraction, depending on what cannabinoids you want to isolate and the potency you’re going for, but those are the basics. It is worth noting that the best CBD oil is usually derived from high-CBD strains.

As a final word: Be wary of companies that interchange “CBD” and “Hemp”. When it comes to CBD oil vs hemp oil, it is certainly CBD that has vast medical benefits. Such statements have been verified by peer-reviewed scientific research and thousands of anecdotal reports. Keep in mind that just because hemp oil comes from the cannabis plant does not necessarily mean it has any of the same medical benefits as CBD oil, even though it may have “trace” amounts. Be sure to confirm the amount of CBD in the oil (in mg) before making any purchases.

CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil References:


“Industrial Hemp”

National Institute on Food and Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture



“DEA Clarifies Status of Hemp in the Federal Register”

Oct. 2001 Press Release

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration



“The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol”

National Institute on Drug Abuse Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

Nora D. Volkow, Director

June, 2015

About Nicco Reggente, PhD 167 Articles
Nicco is the co-founder and CEO of WoahStork and Strain Genie-- two companies dedicated to bringing to life his passion of bringing personalized medicine to the cannabis industry. Nicco received his PhD from UCLA in cognitive neuroscience with a focus on machine learning applied to neuroimaging datasets. He previously received two B.As from NYU in Psychology and Philosophy.

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