The Differences Between CBD Oil, Hemp Oil and Cannabis Oil?

It can be easy to confuse hemp, CBD, and cannabis oils with one another. However, there are critical differences between the three; a significant difference being one’s illegal status is most regions/states. To be clear, all three oils are a result of some form of extraction from plants in the cannabis family. This article will break down the differences and similarities between the oils and their particular applications.

The Same Plant Species

First, all three of the oils in the discussion are derived from the cannabis family. Of course, the particular strains from which they come are different, but the family of the plant is the same.

A Different Strain of that Species

The Cannabis family is far reaching with three separate groups of strains: sativa, indicia, and ruderalis. Sativa strains are closely associated with Industrial Hemp, and indica strains are generally referred to as Marijuana.

Cannabis Ruderalis

Ruderalis is a low THC strain that grows differently than those mentioned above. Aside from the botanical relation of the three oils, there is much difference in their content and utilization.

Hemp (Seed) Oil: Superfood/Industrial Product

Hemp tinctures and oils are often an oil derived from seeds of the hemp plant. Technically referred to as the Cannabis Sativa plant, or Industrial Hemp, the levels of the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in these plants are vastly different from that of the Marijuana plant. Cannabinoids are the phytocompounds in the cannabis plant that have physiological and mental (THC) effects on the body; most prominently, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD is the prominent cannabinoid in the Cannabis Sativa strain, and THC levels are rather low when present. However, hemp oil will contain neither of the two cannabinoids. Being that the hemp oil is typically derived from hemp seeds, there is no cannabinoid content because seeds do not contain cannabinoids. However, some hemp oils will have levels of cannabinoids present due to being extracted from the actual plant. It should be expressly clear on the packaging that this is the case.


Cannabidiol oil arrives via the same plant as hemp tinctures, though it differs in that is explicitly extracted from the plant matter. These oils contain concentrations of CBD and very trace amounts of THC because, as has been noted, the Industrial Hemp plant has low, if present at all, levels of THC and is not psychoactive. CBD oils have very high CBD to THC content ratios because of this. So for this particular oil, there is cannabinoid content, but it is favorably CBD and will not intoxicate an individual.

Cannabidiol oil can also be extracted from the marijuana plant. It takes a lot of hemp plant to produce a little CBD oil because the content in the Industrial Hemp plant is so low. Marijuana strains have higher levels of cannabinoids and allow for more cost-effective production of CBD. This oil is often regulated and illegal unless medically prescribed. Often this oil is a stronger combination of THC and CBD to achieve the “entourage effect” that the two cannabinoids supposedly display.

Cannabis Oil

Cannabis tincture/oil is the lone wolf of the three psychoactive oils. This oil is extracted from strains of cannabis with high levels of cannabinoids, mainly THC often referred to as marijuana. The THC content is high in these oils and causes psychoactive feelings of euphoria, or a high. Although it is mostly extracted and sold illegally for recreational purposes, there are areas, regions, and states that have legalized the plant recreationally. Besides, there are medical benefits to cannabis oil with its plethora of compounds.

However, this oil is not resigned to the recreational, high THC path. There is an otherworldly amount of cannabis strains, and there are methods to extracting higher CBD content than THC. This differs from cannabidiol oil because of the other compounds that are present due to the differences between Industrial Hemp and different strains.

Oil Comparison: Hemp vs. CBD

Hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) oils are both derived from the Industrial Hemp plant. Where they differ is their extraction method. Oil extraction from seeds results in the hemp oil and oil extraction from the leaves, flowers, and other parts of the plant results in the cannabidiol oil.

Their applications are also vastly different. Hemp tinctures/oils are often used for:

  • Cooking – replacing olive oil; The oil is high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and provides the most well-rounded group of essential fatty acids there is.
  • Moisturizer – hydrates skin and fights against aging
  • Soaps – due to its natural moisturizing state it is often found in soap


  • Anticarcinogenic – phenolic compounds in oil known to reduce the risk of cancer

CBD oils are often used for:

Pain Management

  • Pain Management – assists in pain relief and lessens inflammation
  • Medicine for Epilepsy
  • Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Reduction
  • Lessen Nausea and Increase Appetite (typically for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy)

In short, the hemp oil is more of a generally healthy lifestyle application while CBD may be used to target specific issues an individual may be dealing with.

Oil Comparison: CBD vs. Cannabis

The main difference in the cannabis and cannabidiol oils are what they are extracted from. The former is always a result of extraction from plants with known higher levels of cannabinoids. The latter is a result of extraction from plants with known low levels of cannabinoids, or Industrial Hemp plants.

The confusing bit here is that oil can be made from a high-level cannabinoid plant (marijuana plant) with a higher CBD than THC content. This does not qualify it as a CBD oil because there is likely always a presence of THC and other compounds along with it that will still produce the feeling of a high.

In other words, unless the oil comes explicitly from the Industrial Hemp plant, it can be psychoactive and is no longer permissible for over the counter transactions. So while a low THC, high CBD content oil may mirror a cannabidiol oil to some degree, they are not the same.

For the uses of cannabidiol oil, see above.

Typical applications for cannabis oil are:

  • Medicine – only available via prescription in most regions where it is medicinally allowed
  • Recreation – many people use the oil for recreational purposes of feeling euphoric or achieving a high
  • The two oils have the potential to be similar in CBD content, though they will remain separate in effect and application due to their distinctive derivations.

Oil Comparison: Hemp vs. Cannabis

When it comes to the comparison of hemp and cannabis tinctures, or oils, there is not much common ground besides their family of origin. The former is devoid of cannabinoids and is applied as a general life-health supplement, and the latter is used for prescription medicine and recreational (both legal and illegal) purposes. As with the cannabidiol oil, the cannabis tincture derives itself from the leaves, flowers, and other parts of the plant and the hemp tincture is derived from seeds.


Hemp tinctures and oils are often derived from hemp seeds, as aforementioned. This process involves pressing the seeds to remove the oil from them. Using a cold expeller press, hemp seeds are loaded, and the presser extracts the oil by pressing the seeds into flattened pieces.

These pieces then go through a corkscrew process that removes the oil from the flattened hemp seeds. The oil is expelled through oil drain holes in the pressing cylinder. After this, the oil needs to cool slightly before entering a filtration process that removes solids and bits of seed and matter that is unwanted.

Solvent Extraction: Cannabis vs. Cannabidiol Oil

Cannabidiol oil and cannabis tinctures and oils are extracted using similar techniques. One such method is carbon dioxide extraction. This method involves specialized equipment and some labor extraction experience. Through various steps of pressurizing carbon dioxide and filtering it through the plant matter, etc., one ends up with a very clean, safe, and potent cannabidiol or cannabis tincture/oil.

Another method that both oils can utilize is the ethanol extraction method. Using this method, one creates an oil by soaking the plants in ethanol or creating a drip system that extracts the phytocompounds, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, in that manner. This can be done warm and cold. However using a heated ethanol approach allows for decarboxylation, the process converting THCA to its high-inducing partner, THC. This ethanol extraction process is known as a solvent extraction process.

Hemp vs. CBD vs. Cannabis Oils

Although the plant family is the same, there are some glaring differences between the three oils in the discussion. Each has its particular application, and each has its sourcing. The method of extraction may be similar for the cannabis and cannabidiol oils, but their sources are not the same. Therefore, these three oils will always have their differences and will always have an application not meant to be utilized by either of their counterparts.

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