What’s the Difference Between Medical Marijuana and CBD Oil?

The terminology in the cannabis industry can be confusing, especially for those who have never used these products before. So before we address the difference between medical marijuana and CBD oil, let’s first review some basic definitions.

Basic Cannabis Terminology

Cannabis – genus of flowering plants more commonly referred to as either marijuana or hemp. Cannabis plants naturally produce a variety of cannabinoids (including CBD and THC), terpenes and flavonoids. The specific ingredients and levels of each vary by plant depending on how it has been bred. From a legal perspective, cannabis products with more than 0.3% THC are defined as marijuana-derived. Cannabis products with less than 0.3% THC are considered to be hemp-derived.

Medical Marijuana – general term used to describe marijuana products (more than 0.3% THC) that are taken for medical purposes. Medical marijuana products typically have high levels of both CBD and THC in addition to the other naturally-occurring compounds in cannabis.

THC – abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, the naturally-occurring compound in cannabis that produces the psychoactive effects commonly associated with marijuana.

CBD – abbreviation for cannabidiol, the naturally-occuring compound in cannabis known for its therapeutic effects. CBD itself has no psychoactive effects.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is a term used to describe the extract from cannabis that has been specifically bred for its high CBD content. This extract is commonly used to make products such as tinctures, vape liquids, gummies, capsules, topicals and concentrated pastes.

Hemp-derived CBD oil products have less than 0.3% THC and were officially federally legalized in the U.S. by the 2018 Farm Bill. As a result, they can be purchased online and in local stores.

Marijuana-derived CBD oil products have more than 0.3% THC and are legally treated as a Schedule 1 drug the same as marijuana. These products are also commonly referred to as cannabis oil or FECO (full extract cannabis oil).

Is CBD Oil Considered Medical Marijuana?

If medical marijuana is a term used to describe a specific use of cannabis, then can CBD oil be medical marijuana? Yes, but it depends whether the CBD oil is considered to be derived from marijuana or hemp.

Marijuana-derived CBD oil can be considered medical marijuana since it meets the definition of marijuana and is commonly used for medical purposes.

Hemp-derived CBD oil is not considered medical marijuana. While these products are made from cannabis, they are made from hemp that has been bred for its high CBD content but must have a THC content of less than 0.3% to be legally sold without a medical marijuana license.

What Are the Benefits of a Medical Marijuana License?

Hemp-derived CBD oil products can be easily ordered online by residents of all 50 U.S. states. They are also increasingly available in local stores. While these products are effective for many people, others find that they need the higher THC products to get their desired results.

For those who live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, having a medical marijuana card can get them access to high THC products.

Other benefits of getting a medical marijuana card can vary by state, but they generally include discounts on products, less or no taxes, less limitations on the THC content, and the ability to purchase more product or grow more plants at home. These are all useful for users with severe chronic medical conditions that may be limited by the restrictions found at recreational dispensaries.

Sarah Jorczyk

Sarah Jorczyk is an advocate for CBD products and one of the Administrators of the CBD Oil Users Group on Facebook. She strives to educate the public, and promotes the use of safe products while helping others throughout their CBD journey. You can also find a variety of her content, including reviews and educational videos, on the group's youtube page.

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