CBD from hemp versus CBD from cannabis: Is there a difference?

A question we are starting to receive from medical cannabis patients is whether CBD derived from cannabis is more beneficial than CBD derived from hemp.

Simply looking at its pure form, CBD is CBD. Or as Tilray’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Joshua Eades, would explain, “A compound is a compound.”

The two most common forms of extracted CBD are full-spectrum, which is a whole-plant extract, and CBD isolate. Differences in full-spectrum extracts are a result of the extraction process, the parts of the plant used, and the percentage of cannabinoids found in the final product.

Tilray’s CBD oil process uses a precise, state-of-the-art cold extraction method that maximizes the extraction of cannabinoids, while leaving behind undesirable compounds such as chlorophyll, pigments, tannins, waxes, and other compounds that can affect taste, smell, and consistency. This results in a clean, consistent product.

While full spectrum CBD oils can include other cannabinoids and terpenes, CBD isolate – also known as crystallization – is the same whether derived from hemp or cannabis.

CBD isolate is often used in clinical trials to help show that results are directly tied to CBD, rather than other compounds that might be in a full-spectrum extract. For example, CBD isolate was used in the formulation of a study drug for a clinical trial which evaluated the efficacy of high doses of CBD on children with drug-resistant epilepsy.

From this trial, Tilray created 2:100 CBD oil, which uses CBD isolate to boost the CBD content of a full-spectrum extract.

CBD derived from hemp is isolated from the flower of the plant. It’s possible to make a full-spectrum oil from hemp that contains natural terpenes, or essential oils, unique to that plant, but much of the terpene content of full-spectrum oil is lost in the extraction process, which makes the cannabinoid content of THC and CBD much more important.

Patients might also see hemp seed oil products in the health-food store, but these products are cannabinoid-free, meaning they are created from hemp seeds – not the plant itself – and contain little to no traces of CBD or THC.

Pure CBD isolate, whether taken from the cannabis or hemp plant, has a role to play in the formulation of medical cannabis products in Canada. Our recent announcement of a letter of intent to purchase hemp-derived CBD isolate means Tilray has the supply in place to potentially increase the number of high-CBD products or formulate new product offerings. We continue to extract from a variety of high-CBD plants grown at our GMP-certified facility in Nanaimo, B.C., and adhere to rigorous standards of safety and quality for all our products.