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The manufacture of industrial hemp was made legal in the United States via a farm bill passed in 2018. This bill made the possession and use of cannabidiol or CBD legal, however, certain local state laws may still have the final word.

The legalization of CBD prompted cannabis products, including beauty and medical products, to flood the market. While a number of consumers may be unfamiliar with CBD as it is a new ingredient, hempseed oil has been commercially available for a number of years. Hempseed oil has been readily available in stores as a skincare and cooking medium.

CBD oil and hempseed oil are easily confused and a lot of labeling occurs in their products.

A Breakdown on Cannabis

Getting down to fundamentals, Cannabis, or marijuana, and hemp are two different varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant.

Given that they are from the same species, they are often incorrectly bundled into the same family and this creates a fair amount of confusion. The table below should help address any lingering doubts.


Hemp Plants

Hemp Seeds

In 2017, Cannabis contained about 17% THC on average. THC is the chemical responsible for the ‘high’ associated with marijuana consumption.

Needs to contain less than 0.3% THC to be sold legally.

Contains 0% THC

In 2014, Cannabis averaged less than 0.15% of CBD content.

Hemp plants average between 12% and 18% CBD.

Contain minimal, trace amounts of CBD.

Cannabis has therapeutic and medicinal properties and can be used in the treatment of mental health, illnesses, and acute pain.

The stalks of the Hemp plant can be used in the manufacture of useful articles like paper, rope, home insulation, fuel, etc.

Hemp seeds can be cold-pressed to produce hemp seed oil. This can be used for cooking, in the manufacture of beauty products, etc.


Why is the Difference Critical?

Both Hempseed oil and CBD oil are popular ingredients used in the manufacture of creams, balms, lotions, and similar topicals.

Specifically, Hempseed oil is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for unclogging pores of the skin. It also highly moisturizes the skin making it look fresh and soft. Hempseed oil can be used directly as a facial oil or added to a product.

Fresh research conducted on CBD is uncovering an increasing number of skin benefits. It is an established fact that like Hempseed oil, CBD oil too is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

CBD oil has shown benefits in the treatment of –

  • acne and rashes

  • sensitive skin

  • eczema, and

  • psoriasis.

CBD is also known to have a number of antioxidants.

That said, are CBD-based beauty products the real deal and worth paying for? The jury is still out on this one and results to vary person to person.

The Complex Strategy Behind the Marketing of Hempseed Oil

With the spurt in demand and supply of CBD and related products, a number of manufacturers are in a rush to market and sell their cannabis-based beauty and medical products. However, in their haste, brands are mixing the terms hemp seed and CBD – either intentionally or accidentally.

One reason a brand may benefit from mixing the two terms is that consumers are usually willing to pay a bit more when it comes to good quality CBD products as CBD oil is a much more expensive ingredient compared to Hempseed oil.

When done intentionally, you will often find examples of brands adding packaging a hempseed oil-based product by surrounding it with marijuana leaves and highlighting ‘cannabis’ on the label. This may make consumers think they are purchasing a CBD-based product when in reality it does not.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are brands that market and package their products as being derived from Hempseed. This is to avoid the FDA regulations that come with marijuana or cannabis-based products.

As a savvy consumer, how can you tell what you’re purchasing? Simple- Read the ingredients.

Hempseed oil will most likely be mentioned as ‘Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil’. On the other hand, CBD will mostly be listed as ‘Cannabidiol’, ‘Full-Spectrum Hemp’, ‘Hemp Oil’, ‘PCR-Hemp Extracts’, or ‘PCR (Phytocannabinoid-rich)’.

Make Sure You’re Getting What You’re Paying For

It is not a requirement for manufacturers to list the mg of CBD or hemp on the product’s packaging. However, a number of producers do so. If this is not the case, it should be a flag for you right at the outset.

On its part, the FDA has warned some brands that have been trying to illegally sell CBD products under false advertisements and pretenses of effective medical cures. This is another reason why self-research is of paramount importance.


CBD products that are derived from Hemp and contain less than the prescribed .3 percent of THC are legal per federal law. However, certain state laws may still deem it illegal.

CBD products that are derived from Marijuana are illegal per federal law but remain legal under the laws of certain states.

It is advisable to check the appropriate state laws in case of travel. It is important to note that over-the-counter CBD products are not approved by the FDA.

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