Simple Ways to Identify Hemp Buds

December 19, 2022 Blog No Comments »

Hemp buds come from hemp plants, which belong to the same plant species as cannabis sativa. However, unlike cannabis, hemp plants only have less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. They also have considerably higher concentrations of CBD than marijuana. This means that you can’t get intoxicated from consuming it.

The 2018 US Farm Bill legalized hemp production as long as it contains under 0.3 percent THC. This also made hemp-derived products legal at the federal level.

Differentiating between hemp buds and weed flowers can be more complicated than you initially thought. To a large extent, both look the same, with beautiful green buds and some glowing trichomes.

Read on as we go over some simple tips to help you differentiate between the two.

How to Identify Hemp Flower Buds

They Come in a Light Shade of Red or Purple

Hemp buds and marijuana buds are primarily green. However, hemp buds usually may have a hint of red or light purple blended in. Marijuana buds, on the other hand, don a dark purple color.

Of course, you can’t identify hemp buds purely based on physical appearance. But at least the evidence of a red or light purple shade should nudge you in the right direction.

Small, Crystallized Hair-like Strands

The minute, crystallized hair-like strands that appear on the surface of cannabis buds are known as trichomes. Sometimes they are visible to the naked eye, while other times, you may need a magnifying glass to zoom in.

Trichomes contain cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Buds with higher CBD concentrations have many trichomes, giving them a frosty look. And since hemp is known for its high CBD content, chances are the buds with a lot of trichomes are mainly hemp buds.

image of smell to identify hemp flower buds


Hemp buds typically have a dank, fruity, and slightly earthy aroma, like the unmistakable aroma of THC-rich cannabis flower. The smell, however, varies a bit from strain to strain. While some strains have a skunk-like fragrance, others give off a fruity or spicy scent.

The aroma of hemp buds will depend on the type of terpenes it contains in large amounts. Here are some of the common terpenes and their associated scents and flavors:

  • Pinene: Smells like pine trees
  • Caryophyllene: Smells like peppers
  • Myrcene: Gives off an earthy, musky scent like mangoes
  • Limonene: A citrusy smell like citrus fruits
  • Linalool: A floral aroma reminiscent of lavender
  • Borneol: Gives a mint-like taste
  • Humulene: Smells like hops

Low THC Content

The product packaging often indicates the list of ingredients, including cannabinoids. The THC content on the product label for hemp buds will be less than 0.3%. So that should help you to identify hemp buds quickly.

However, if the indicated THC content on the product label exceeds 0.3%, they are technically marijuana buds. Legal marijuana buds may contain up to 20% THC.

image of high cbd content to identify hemp flower buds

High CBD Content

While they have a lower THC content, hemp buds boast a higher CBD value than marijuana buds. If the product packaging shows 20% or more cannabidiol in the buds, there’s a good chance they are hemp buds.

Certificate of Analysis (COA)

The foolproof way of identifying hemp buds is by checking their certificate of analysis or lab report. Reputable vendors usually send specific batches of flowers to an independent, third-party laboratory for testing.

The COA details the cannabinoids, in a flower batch, including CBD and THC. It also reveals if there are any contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, mold, or bacteria in the batch.

The COA is often printed on the QR code on the product’s packaging. You can scan it using your smartphone to confirm if the buds are indeed from the hemp plant. The COA will reveal a low THC percentage and high CBD concentration for hemp buds.

image of why use hemp buds

Why Use Hemp Buds

Now that you know how to identify hemp buds, here are some reasons to try them out or use them.

  • Relaxation: Users mention feeling calm and relaxed after smoking hemp buds. It’s said to relieve the tension in your muscles while eliminating any negative thoughts in your mind. So you can continue being productive for the rest of the day.
  • Sense of well-being: Hemp flower buds promote feelings of well-being. That’s because CBD contains neuroprotective attributes that effectively combat physical discomfort.
  • Wide availability: Hemp became legal after the 2018 Farm Bill. Consequently, hemp buds are sold in almost all smokeshops, CBD stores, convenience stores, and online. You don’t have to worry about landing in legal trouble, provided the hemp buds don’t exceed the 0.3% THC threshold.
  • No intoxication: Hemp buds boast a higher CBD and low THC content. It gives you all the wellness properties of CBD without intoxication.

The Bottom Line

Checking out the physical traits of hemp flower buds and marijuana buds can help you identify them to a certain degree. You should watch out for a hint of red or light purple in hemp buds amidst the conspicuous green shade. A fairly weed-like aroma and more trichomes on the buds also point to hemp buds.

But if you want to be entirely sure, checking the chemical composition of hemp buds is the foolproof way. The COA or lab report usually indicates the actual presence and quantity of cannabinoids, terpenes, and any contaminants present in the tested flower batch.

If the THC concentration is less than 0.3% and the CBD content is considerably higher, the products are certainly hemp buds.

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