How to Tell the Difference Between CBD Flower and Cannabis

June 27, 2022 Blog No Comments »


Marijuana legislation has come a long way, but there’s still a way to go. And while CBD flower exists in an entirely separate realm, marijuana legislature weighs heavily on the industry. The common origins between the two agricultural commodities have blurred the lines that set them apart.

So for CBD flower users, there’s always that perceived burden to prove that the product in your pocket isn’t the illegal stuff. But how exactly can you tell?  Here’s a quick guide on how to distinguish CBD flowers from cannabis.


CBD Flower vs Cannabis

First things first — how are CBD flower and cannabis different in terms of legality? Well, in December of 2018, the Farm Bill officially recognized these two commodities as not one and the same.


Years of research have revealed that while they come from the same plant — that is, Cannabis sativa L. — these two products demonstrate variations in their chemical profile. Significant to their legality would be the absence (or presence) of THC.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or simply THC, is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in the plant. This collection of chemical compounds exists only in the cannabis plant and gives its resulting products the wellness effects they’re known for.

THC, which is abundant in cannabis, has been singled out as the one, specific cannabinoid that lends marijuana its psychoactive, perception-altering effects. But by tweaking cultivation techniques, farmers found they could reduce THC expression to near negligible.

And that’s where CBD hemp flower enters the picture. Any product from the Cannabis sativa L. plant containing 0.3% THC or less would be considered CBD flower instead of cannabis.

According to research, this marginal THC content can’t cause the same, dramatic psychoactive effects that marijuana does. And thus, products that meet this requirement do not fall into the same category as cannabis, making them legal.


Difficulties in Differentiation

In a perfect world, you could probably walk around with a big fat bag of CBD flower-like nobody’s business. But it’s not exactly a perfect world. Despite being legal, CBD flowers’ close resemblance to marijuana often captures the attention of law enforcement.

Considering that the products come from exactly the same plant and that the only real difference separating them would be their chemical profile, it’s easy to see why people might confuse the two.

This doesn’t only pose a problem in terms of mistaken identity of the cannabis kind but also demonstrates the possible dangers of shopping for CBD flowers.

With some vendors enforcing very little quality control, it’s not uncommon for CBD flower shoppers to accidentally purchase and use products that actually qualify as marijuana.


So as a consumer, it’s important to pull out all the stops when performing due diligence. And while it’s not foolproof, some experts assert that there are a few things you can try to determine if your product is CBD flower or its illegal cousin.


How to Tell CBD Flower and Cannabis Apart

At a glance, these two agricultural commodities might not demonstrate too many distinguishing characteristics. But if you’ve got a keen eye for detail, then these tips might help you tell them apart.

Appearance and Aroma

For the record, there aren’t a lot of differences in the way CBD flower and cannabis are processed and handled post-harvest. That means they might look almost identical, especially to people who don’t handle them often.

According to experts, the CBD hemp flower tends to have longer leaves with brighter, more vibrant colors. But it’s not uncommon for cannabis farmers to cultivate their products to showcase similar qualities, especially since eye-catching buds tend to drive sales higher.

Another thing to consider is the smell of the product. High-quality CBD hemp flower is fragrant and pleasant, thanks to the terpenes that exist in the leaves. Then again, these terpenes may be equally prominent in marijuana, particularly in batches that are cultivated and processed by more experienced farmers.

Lab Test Results

You don’t really need to be a super sleuth, especially if you’ve got verified lab reports on your hands. Vendors that offer to showcase the lab test results for their products are more likely to sell CBD flower that meets standards and requirements.

Again, for a product to qualify as CBD flower, its THC content should not reach beyond 0.3%. Law enforcement agents are pretty strict about this. So even just a measure of 0.31% could get you in trouble.

If you’re buying CBD flowers, make sure to ask your vendor if they offer to send copies of lab reports for your safety. Carrying around these documents can help dispel significant doubt and clear you of any suspicion from curious onlookers.


So let’s say you took a dose without bothering to verify the product’s cannabinoid profile. And now, you’re feeling a little lightheaded and dreamy. It might be wise to cease the use of the product until you can verify its quality.

Remember that although CBD flower might make you feel relaxed, calm, attentive, and clear, it will not get you high. If you sense even the slightest alterations to your cognition — especially to your perception of reality — toss the product out.


Don’t Take Risks

While there might be some indications that make it a possibility to differentiate CBD flower from cannabis, it’s always just better to avoid the risk entirely. Purchasing your products from trusted vendors significantly minimizes the chances of accidentally buying and using THC-rich cannabis.

Perform due diligence, ask for lab reports, check reviews, and never settle for products that seem too good to be true. And just in case you plan to walk around with your CBD flower stash in handy, see to it that you have all the original labels, packaging, and lab report copies just in case.

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