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What is the difference between Cannabis, Hemp, Marijuana, CBD and Charlotte's Web?

Explaining the difference between cannabis, hemp, marijuana, CBD and Charlotte's Web seems like it should be an easy enough task, but the complexities of this wonderful and controversial plant are vast. For those wanting the short version:

  • Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis and contain hundreds of cannabinoids
  • Marijuana has > 0.3% THC (the only cannabinoid that gets you "high")
  • Hemp has < 0.3% THC and is legal in all states
  • CBD is a single, non-psychoactive cannabinoid and can be in either marijuana or hemp
  • Charlotte's Web is hemp that contains a proprietary full spectrum of cannabinoids

For the more detailed explanation, cannabis is the plant genus for both hemp and marijuana and played a critical role in mankind’s industry and health for thousands of years. Ancient societies widely and wisely used cannabis for a variety of wellness and industrial applications.

Unfortunately, modern society carries a stigma about cannabis that didn’t burden ancient societies. Clearly this stigma is unwarranted as even our own US government is aware of the many benefits of cannabis, having encouraged farmers to grow cannabis for industrial use during World War II's "Hemp for Victory" campaign1. Later, they even patented "cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants". US Patent 66305072 outlines specific potential for stroke, brain trauma, Alzheimer's and other conditions.

What changed? Why were we suddenly taught to believe Cannabis is the devil's plant - capable of killing brain cells and making us crazed, immoral losers?

Conspiracy factualists may point out this demonization conveniently worked in favor of the powerful Mellon and DuPont families. The same families who bankrolled support for the cannabis prohibition act of 1937. They, in addition to other influential elites, were looking to exert more control over the paper, textile, fuel and pharmaceutical industries which hemp farmers threatened.

Regardless, the demonization of this plant only began in the mid 20th century - a big change after centuries of productive, unstigmatized use. Furthermore, while the plant contains over 100 different cannabinoids3, the smear campaign targeted the only one that results in a psychoactive "high": Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

 

This is where the difference in "hemp" vs. "Marijuana" comes in.

In 2014, the US Farm Bill4 officially classified cannabis plants containing a maximum of 0.3% THC as "Industrial Hemp" (and all other cannabis as "marijuana").  This means that 99.7% of the cannabinoids present in hemp will not get you high. Hopefully, this will unlock cannabinoids' natural benefits for millions of people who need them, but don't want to feel high.

While not perfect, the 2014 Farm Bill was landmark legislation and made it possible to cultivate hemp using modern agriculture processes and to ship beneficial hemp products across state lines.

With recent interest in medical marijuana exploding across dozens of states, another cannabinoid, cannabidiol or CBD, has gained global attention. Like THC, CBD is a single cannabinoid found among the over 100 other cannabinoids in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and can be found in either hemp or marijuana.

Despite dozens of companies ignoring the law, the FDA has said that products labeled as "CBD" cannot be legally sold across state lines in the United States5. This is due to evolving medical regulations and to quality concerns.  The FDA recently tested 20 "CBD" products6 and found that nearly half of them contained zero CBD, most of the others had near meaningless levels of CBD, and several contained toxic contamination.

Charlotte's Web hemp extract oil with cannabinoids is often confused with "CBD" because many people's first contact with CBD came from the "medical marijuana" story of little Charlotte Figi7. After exhausting medical options, Charlotte's parents gave her a low-THC whole-plant hemp extract oil containing a proprietary full spectrum of cannabinoids. Today, little Charlotte is thriving! In honor of Charlotte's miraculous results, this same oil became known as "Charlotte's Web."

After the Farm Bill and rigorous testing by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Charlotte's Web was officially classified as "hemp" and began shipping to all states. Despite media coverage, "CBD" has never been an accurate description of Charlotte's Web given that Charlotte's Web has always been a whole plant hemp extract oil that contains all beneficial cannabinoids.

Charlotte's Web was developed from proprietary genetics drawn from across the world by Colorado's Stanley Brothers. While world-class genetics are the foundation, quality is in the details. The unmatched care that goes into production of Charlotte's Web products is overseen entirely by the Stanley Brothers: it's cloned and planted by hand, organically farmed on Colorado family farms and manufactured in an FDA certified facility in Boulder. No one else does this.

While quite the mouthful to get here, hopefully the differences are more clear now:

  • Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis and contain hundreds of cannabinoids
  • Marijuana has > 0.3% THC (the only cannabinoid that gets you "high")
  • Hemp has < 0.3% THC and is legal in all states
  • CBD is a single, non-psychoactive cannabinoid and can be in either marijuana or hemp
  • Charlotte's Web is hemp that contains a proprietary full spectrum of cannabinoids


1 Hemp for Victory. Directed by Raymond Evans, narrated by Lee D. Vickers, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1943.

2 The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services. "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants." Patent 6,630,507. 7 Oct 2003.

3 Ben Amar, Mohamed. "Cannabinoids in medicine: A review of their therapeutic potential." Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 105, 2006, 1-25.

4 United States Department of Agriculture. "The Farm Bill | USDA." United States Department of Agriculture. USDA, 13 July 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

5 Long, Josh. "FDA: Products Containing CBD Cannot Be Sold as Dietary ..." Natural Products Insider. Informa Exhibitions, 20 May 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

6 FDA. "2015 Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol ..." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
FDA. "2016 Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol ..." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

7 Young, Sandra. "Marijuana stops child's seizures." CNN. 7 Aug 2013. Web. 29 Nov 2016.