hemp alternatives

The Difference Between Industrial & High-CBD Hemp

Marijuana, Cannabis, Hemp… how can anyone tell the difference with so many different names? In today’s article, we’re going to break down the differences between industrial hemp and high-CBD hemp. Let’s go!

As more and more cannabis-based products hit the shelves, more and more questions arise from consumers. It’s super easy to get mixed up between hemp seed oil and hemp oil, or cannabis oil and CBD oil. Today we hope to help clear the confusion about hemp.

It’s all cannabis! Both hemp and marijuana are simply varieties of cannabis.

Marijuana is a term quickly becoming outdated, but it’s typically used in the cannabis industry to define plants that contain THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis. You might also hear of marijuana being called ganja, mota, and a million other names, but it’s not hemp.

The term hemp is used to define cannabis that has little to no THC content. Archeological discoveries suggest that hemp could’ve possibly been humanity’s first agricultural crop, helping to lead to the first human settlements. But there seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between two distinct types of hemp. Let’s clear the smoke. Here we go!

Industrial Hemp

Many of today’s tobacco farms were once successful hemp fields. Before World War II, the US grew industrial hemp like it was going out of style. Now, as laws and perspectives on cannabis change, many farmers are returning to the cash crop.

Industrial hemp grows tall and thin and is a great source for:

  • Superfood hemp seeds
  • Textiles and fibers
  • Hempcrete
  • Biofuel
  • Much more

The list of materials and products that can be made from hemp is almost as endless as the list of diseases cannabis can treat. Industrial hemp is mainly sewn for its fibrous stalk and hardy seeds, but it’s not a great source of cannabinoid-rich resin. In fact, industrial hemp produces little to no resin at all.

It takes tons and tons of industrial hemp to produce viable amounts of CBD or other cannabinoid concentrates.

Using industrial hemp cannabis as a source for CBD or other cannabis concentrates is not the most ideal. Furthermore, it can be a risk to your health, as cannabis is a natural bio-accumulator, which means it can absorb toxins such as heavy metals from the soil.

Thankfully, thanks to numerous lawsuits, companies manufacturing cannabis-based products are now required to test for contamination of heavy metals, chemical solvent residues, pesticides, or other toxins.

High-CBD Hemp

High-CBD hemp is the most ideal source for cannabinoid-rich extracts and oils. It’s still hemp, meaning its genetics will produce little to no THC (usually less than 3%), but it’s grown differently than industrial hemp.

Grown similarly to marijuana, high-CBD hemp is cultivated for its resinous flowers, as opposed to its stalk or seeds. High-CBD hemp looks pretty much like marijuana and comes complete with the wonderful aromas provided by aromatic compounds known as terpenes. Another term used to label high-CBD hemp is cannabinoid-rich hemp, or PCR hemp.

While industrial hemp is typically grown in large fields by the acre with both male and female plants, high-CBD hemp is grown from female clones in beds, rows, and gardens so the grower can pay close attention to each plant’s needs.

The main differences between industrial hemp and high-CBD hemp are:

  • The way in which it’s grown
  • What it’s grown for (medicinal oils or industrial resources)
  • Its cannabinoid content


We hope this article helps clear the confusion you may have had about industrial hemp versus high-CBD hemp. The only reason CBD oils are sourced from industrial hemp is because of the illegality issues surrounding cannabis on the federal level.

Considering the US Senate is vastly supporting a new initiative that would create a legalized and regulated hemp industry in the US, we may not have to wait much longer to stop sourcing CBD from industrial hemp and start sourcing from high-CBD hemp.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve enjoyed this article then please share it with others who may also find it helpful. You can learn more about cannabis in our other articles linked below.