Does Hemp Have THC?

By Harris Wheless
Andrew Smarius

Hemp extracts like CBD oil have been getting a lot of screen time in the past year. You see them on the news, in online retail sites, and in your social media feed. And while hemp has proven to be a versatile plant, it’s still a member of the cannabis family, which leads many people to wonder: Does hemp have THC?

THC is abundant in marijuana strains of cannabis, which are still considered federally illegal in the United States. Hemp on the other hand, has many different (legal) uses, including its ability to create fiber that can be put into building materials and clothing, as well as other hemp compounds that can be used to make food, skincare products, and wellness supplements.

One of the most popular compounds found in hemp plants is cannabidiol, or CBD, which has helped many people alleviate certain ailments and symptoms. But how do the contents of hemp extracts differ from marijuana? Well, here’s what we know about hemp, how it is made into consumer products, and what those products contain.

First, what is cannabis?

Cannabis sativa is a species of cannabis plant that has historically been valued for its medicinal properties. Cannabis plants contain a variety of organic compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes. One of these cannabinoids, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is what gives recreational and medical marijuana its trademark mind-altering effects. CBD, on the other hand, does not possess any psychoactive properties.

Cannabis plants are commonly divided into two categories based on the amount of THC they contain: marijuana and hemp. Marijuana has more than 0.3% THC, and hemp has less than that amount. Hemp plants, like other cannabis plants, can be male or female. However, it is the female plants that are grown to maturity and from which compounds like CBD are extracted to make hemp-derived CBD products.

Some background on cannabis laws

For years, all cannabis extracts (regardless whether they were derived from marijuana or hemp) were categorized as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. There was no legal distinction between hemp and marijuana—until last year when the 2018 Farm Bill was passed. This bill separated marijuana and hemp based on their THC content. It also federally legalized hemp production in the U.S., and freed up the consumer market to include hemp extracts like CBD oil.

Although the federal government has legalized hemp production, state laws sometimes vary. And because the FDA has not yet evaluated CBD products, the CBD market is highly unregulated. This means that some CBD brands don’t take proper precautions when it comes to extraction method and product labeling.

The contents of CBD products

Depending on the extraction method used, a CBD product may solely contain CBD, or it may additionally contain any number of other cannabis compounds. Luckily, many brands designate which of these categories their products fall into. CBD products are often grouped into one of three categories: CBD isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum.

CBD isolate is sometimes called 99.9% pure CBD. This is because it contains CBD, but no other cannabinoids or terpenes. If you’re concerned about drug screenings that test for the presence of CBD, this kind of product may be the right fit.

Broad-spectrum CBD products are made up of CBD as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes, but are lacking in THC. Full-spectrum products, on the other hand, can contain any of these compounds, including trace amounts of THC (up to 0.3%). Broad-spectrum products offer many of the same benefits associated with full-spectrum CBD, but without the THC.

How CBD works

Although CBD products don’t have enough THC to produce any psychoactive effects, CBD derived from hemp can provide you with a sense of calm or relief. The effect CBD brings about on the body can most easily be likened to a runner’s high. Its regulatory properties can bring relief to various parts of the body and help with the management of different symptoms.

CBD can be consumed using a number of application methods, including capsules, CBD oil, topicals, or edibles, just to name a few. Sublingual application of CBD or hemp oil are the methods that produce the fastest relief. However, capsules or edibles may provide you with longer-lasting effects.

If you are thinking about using CBD to reduce pain, anxiety, or any other health issues, you should make sure you do your research before buying a product. Knowing your body’s needs and whether a product can adequately meet those needs is an important part of managing your symptoms. If you are unsure that CBD is the right approach for you, talk to your doctor about it. He or she may be able to steer you in the direction of products that work well with your condition.

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