cbd vs hemp

A couple of years before the 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD, stores around the country began stocking hemp oils with vague labeling. While the products sold well, most consumers had no idea what the “hemp-oil” actually contained. Last year, an Amazon search for hemp oil would yield more than a hundred products, and thousands of reviews were questioning what the stuff was. 

What Were The “Hemp Oils” Sold on Amazon Before 2019?

What were the hemp oils with purposely vague labeling? CBD oil sold through a legal loophole. The United States considers any cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC in dry weight hemp. Cannabidiol (CBD) is naturally found in high concentrations in hemp’s essential oil. 

The loophole of not labeling the hemp oil as containing CBD left customers with the short end of the stick. The essential oil of hemp contains many beneficial compounds, but CBD had the research behind it. Without any labeling, hopeful buyers had no idea how much CBD they were getting. Many products revealed very low amounts when tested.

When CBD was removed from the list of controlled substances by the DEA after the 2018 Farm Bill, actual CBD became legal for sale. Now plenty of products sold on the market correctly label the concentrations of CBD in them. There are three prominent types of products on the market today: hemp oil, full-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. 

Hemp oil is the extracted essential oil from the low-THC variety of cannabis containing more than 60 cannabinoids, including CBD at varying concentrations. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains specific levels of CBD but still includes the full spectrum of other cannabinoids in hemp. CBD isolate contains only CBD with the other cannabinoids removed. All three have their place in the marketplace.

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil has many uses. It has a unique mild nutty flavor great for cooking. It’s also a great moisturizer and a popular addition to cosmetics. Since early research suggests a majority of the more than 60 cannabinoids hemp contains have health benefits, hemp oil is a way to reap those benefits ahead of the mainstream. 

Terpenes are another bonus in hemp oil. The oily, aromatic compounds give plants their distinctive aromas and work to protect them during their life cycle from predators and disease. Terpenes are a component of what scientists have termed the “Entourage Effect,” cannabis oil’s mysterious ability to synergistically enhance the effectiveness of not only individual cannabinoids but certain pharmaceutical drugs as well.

The drawback of hemp oil is the varying amounts of CBD it contains. Some have only trace amounts, and for those looking to use CBD specifically, it is not a reliable source. If you are looking for a particular cannabinoid profile or treatment protocol, look elsewhere.

Full-Spectrum CBD Oil

Full Spectrum CBD oil is refined to produce a standardized concentration of CBD while retaining the other cannabinoids found in hemp oil. The highest quality full-spectrum products also contain the original terpenes as well to maximize the entourage effect. Multiple published university studies find better results in their trials using full-spectrum CBD versus isolates. Those hoping to use CBD medicinally are often advised by physicians to use a full-spectrum product. 

There are two reasons why a consumer wouldn’t want a full-spectrum product. First, a tiny percentage of the population doesn’t respond well to THC. Although THC-derived from hemp oil will not cause intoxication (aka a high), scientists postulate that those with a propensity for mental illness could induce the onset by consuming THC. 

The other reason is drug testing. While the DEA does not consider any cannabinoids, including THC that are extracted from hemp to be controlled substances, some workplaces still screen for cannabis. Drug tests for marijuana only pick up the presence of THC meaning users of CBD products occasionally flag as positive if the test picks up the trace amounts of THC. 

Full-spectrum CBD oil is typically the most expensive on the market, with the highest quality products containing the natural terpenes as well. The entourage effect may be one of the more critical components of the medicinal effects seen with CBD oil. Remember, a significant body of peer-reviewed research has found that CBD is far less potent when dosed on its own versus in conjunction with the other naturally present cannabinoids.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate oil has removed everything but CBD from hemp using industrial processes and can be quite useful on its own. Those wary of consuming THC can use CBD isolate confidently. CBD will only balance the body’s chemistry rather than cause any mind-altering state because CBD does not bind to the body’s endocannabinoid receptors. 

Using an isolate can be advantageous to manufacturers of certain types of products like cosmetic creams since the consistency is easier to blend into their formulas. Many CBD isolate liquids use a dietary carrier oil like coconut to improve absorption. For consumers concerned about drug testing, a CBD isolate guarantees the ability to pass a screening for cannabis. 

Many workplaces are changing their policies. States like Nevada and California have created policies preventing companies from screening for cannabis or using it as a reason for employment decisions. 

In summary, hemp, full-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate oils all have their place in wellness and medicine. Depending on an individual’s needs, one may be more advantageous than the other. In all cases, you should purchase products from reputable manufacturers that have 3rd party testing for purity. Reviews and influencer sponsorships are helpful tools in finding the brand for you. Websites like CBDInside.com can do a lot of the legwork for you since they research the companies and products they recommend. 


“Bulk Manufacturer of Controlled Substances Applications: Bulk Manufacturers of Marihuana.” Federal Register, 27 Aug. 2019, www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/27/2019-18456/bulk-manufacturer-of-controlled-substances-applications-bulk-manufacturers-of-marihuana.

“DEA Announces Steps Necessary to Improve Access to Marijuana Research.” The United States Department of Justice, 4 Sept. 2019, www.justice.gov/opa/pr/dea-announces-steps-necessary-improve-access-marijuana-research.


CBDinside is an independent, New York based CBD comparison platform. Many of the CBD products that appear on this site are from companies from which CBDInside receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CBDinside does not include all CBD companies or all CBD products available in the marketplace.

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