Trying to figure out the difference between hemp oil vs cannabis oil confuses many people, so we’re here to set it all straight.
Generally speaking, “hemp oil” refers to products made from industrial hemp plants which don’t produce THC as they grow. By Canada law, all industrial hemp products must be made from plant parts with less than 0.3% THC concentration.
Hemp oil is a non-psychoactive product, offering nutritional benefits to medicinal relief.
“Cannabis oil” most often refers to oil extracted from THC-bearing marijuana plants. The oil can be prepared as a form of concentrate for smoking or consuming through capsules, vapes, and edibles. THC cannabis oil can also be used as a base ingredient in other products like topical creams.
The amount of CBD and THC that cannabis oil contains varies. This is because each strain of marijuana has different levels of these compounds. When the cannabis oil is extracted, different plants contain different amounts, therefore the cannabis oil contains different amounts.
It is vital to know the THC and CBD levels of the products you’re buying, to ensure you get what your mind and body specifically requires.
That’s the lowdown on cannabis oil vs hemp oil in a nutshell—rather, in a hemp seed shell.
But, as seems to be the case with everything in the weed world, there are a number of exceptions, misconceptions, and mislabeling.
Read on to learn the full truth behind hemp oil vs. cannabis oil and how to choose either based on your goals and needs.
Why Is Hemp Oil vs Cannabis Oil So Confusing?
Cannabis. Hemp. Marijuana. Weed. Pot. Bud. Ganja. Herb. The Devil’s Lettuce. Jazz cabbage.
Except those last two, all of these names have been used to refer to a million different things. What counts as “cannabis” to you or me may not be the same thing as it is for someone else.
Additionally, as you travel to different countries and look at different laws, the nomenclature gets switched around. “Ganja” here in Canada might mean cured buds that get you high, but in India, it might refer to the plant itself.
Let’s start then with a few things we do know. There’s a plant species officially called Cannabis sativa. “Cannabis” can be thought of technically as a shorthand name for this plant.
Cannabis plants have many genetic varieties and crossbreeds with different traits. When the same species of plants grow in different ways, they are called “cultivars.”
Understanding hemp oil vs. cannabis oil essentially comes down to understanding cultivars.
Cultivars can be extremely varied. Spicy cayenne peppers and sweet bell peppers are both cultivars of the Capsicum annuum plant. Cabbage, kale, and broccoli are all cultivars of Brassica oleracea.
There are two main cultivar categories of the cannabis plant:
- Hemp, which is tall, fibrous, and grown industrially for many non-drug uses.
- Marijuana, which is bushier, produces THC, and is usually grown for consumption.
What Exactly Is Hemp Oil?
Most often, hemp oil is an oily product extracted from industrial hemp. It can be a raw ingredient for something else, or it can be sold as 100% pure hemp oil.
The Canadian government defines “industrial hemp” as “cannabis plants and plant parts, of any variety, that contains 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less in the leaves and flowering heads.”
Hemp oil by nature has ≤0.3% THC content in it.
What is hemp oil made from?
Hemp seeds have the most oil content, so the vast majority of hemp oil is produced by pressing these seeds. Many hemp oil suppliers also include oil extracted from pressing the plant stems.
Another common question is: does hemp oil have CBD?
Normally, hemp plants have a higher content of CBD than their marijuana counterparts. It can be as high as 18-27% CBD!
Neither the seeds nor the stems tend to have much CBD, though. Since most hemp oil is produced from these components, it usually has very little CBD content.
Beware of hemp oil products saying they have CBD or promising CBD-like benefits! Research how they were made and what parts of the plant they come from.
What Exactly Is Cannabis Oil?
The best definition of cannabis oil is: “Oil extracted from whole parts of THC-bearing marijuana plants.”
This definition makes it clear that THC cannabis oil has a mixture of CBD, THC and a broad terpene profile. Having a variety of compounds is important because of the entourage effect.
Using cannabis oil vs hemp oil can, therefore, bring you more of the intended benefits of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.
Whole-plant cannabis oil has many medicinal benefits. Yeah, you could find a way to smoke it, but this type of extract is not going to get you nearly as high as other cannabis concentrates.
Speaking of which, some people will call weed concentrates “cannabis oil.” These can include dabs, shatter, honeycombs, ear wax, butane honey oil (BHO) and many other types of thick, THC-rich products made exclusively from marijuana “buds”.
Since the terms hemp oil vs cannabis oil can be confusing, we’d prefer they didn’t call concentrates that!
Uses of Hemp Oil vs. Cannabis Oil
Hemp oil has many uses. Even without THC or CBD, it can provide a huge range of benefits.
For one, it’s nutritious. We all need more omega-3 fatty acids and fewer omega-6 fatty acids. Hemp oil has an unusually high 3:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.
This level can balance out essential fatty acid deficiencies, which treats health problems like inflammation and even cardiovascular disease or cancer.
Hemp oil also provides skin health benefits. The fats it contains are similar to the oil our skin makes, so hemp oil is a perfect base ingredient for lotions, topicals, salves, and more.
Since the best cannabis oil is extracted from the whole plant, it can have all of the benefits of hemp oil. It also has added medical benefits thanks to the THC, CBD, and terpene content.
Patients have been using cannabis oil to control epileptic seizures, relieve pain, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, improve blood flow, relieve migraines, and more.
Topicals made from cannabis oil are not psychoactive, by the way, since they cannot be absorbed through the skin.
As a final note, know that there are such things as high-CBD oil extract and high-THC oil extract. Since these are intended as a pure form of a particular compound, they have different uses than hemp oil vs cannabis oil.
So, hopefully, all the smoke around cannabis oil vs hemp oil has cleared. You can now find the right product for you.
Just remember: don’t smoke your lotion!