Hemp CBD vs Cannabis CBD Explained for Students in Cannabis Retailer Training

open a cannabis business

If you’re interested in cannabis retail, whether as an owner, manager, or retail worker, product knowledge is important. It makes sense to make product knowledge part of your preparation to work in the cannabis industry. Confident product knowledge will help sales and make customers feel assured about what they are purchasing.

Keep reading to learn the difference between CBD derived from hemp plants versus CBD from cannabis plants.

Know What CBD Is Before Your Cannabis Retailer Training

Cannabidol is commonly referred to as CBD and is found in the trichomes of cannabis plants. It is the most common type of cannabinoid, which is a chemical compound that is naturally produced. Most often, CBD products will be sold in these forms:

  • oil
  • capsules
  • creams or salves
  • in edible products

Research is still ongoing, but for those interested in cannabis retailer training, customers may want to know that CBD does not typically intoxicate a user as THC does. Some studies have also shown that products with similar levels of CBD and THC may have fewer or less intense THC intoxication effects from THC (e.g., paranoia).

cannabis retail licensing

Trichomes, the source of cannabinoids, are mostly produced on the flower and leaves

Hemp Plants Versus Cannabis Plants

The difference between hemp plants and cannabis plants may be understood through botany as well as through legality. Cannabis is the name of a genus of plants, which has three species: indica, sativa, and ruderalis. Hemp is not a species, but it is of the sativa species. The legal difference refers to the amount of THC in the plant. Here is a summary of how the plants differ:


  • plants are classified as cannabis if they have more than 0.3 percent THC
  • these plants require more attention than hemp plants, so they are usually grown inside under controlled conditions
  • they have higher concentrations of resin, which usually means there is a higher concentration of CBD than in hemp plants


  • plants are classified as hemp if they have 0.3 percent THC or less
  • these plants can be used to fabricate textiles, building materials, and more
  • they are usually grown outside because the temperature, light, and humidity do not need to be controlled in the same way as for cannabis plants

Although these plants are grown and used differently, they both produce CBD that may be used to create some of the products you might sell after you go through the cannabis retail licensing process.

cannabis retailer training

You may find hemp in clothing materials

The Short Answer

The short answer to the question of the difference between hemp CBD and cannabis CBD is this: CBD is a chemical compound, so the molecules are the same whether they come from one plant or the other. The story is not over though, because the methods of extraction must also be understood.

The Longer Answer: Extraction Methods and the Entourage Effect

The background knowledge you build about cannabis through training will support your business and help you understand more about the products you buy and sell. Here are two extraction methods and what they mean for CBD:

  • Isolate: CBD isolate products only have the CBD molecule and nothing else; there are no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or THC
  • Full Spectrum: more components are extracted, including terpenes, flavonoids, and potentially low levels of THC

open a cannabis business

Research on CBD extraction and effects is ongoing

Terpenes are the organic compounds that contribute to the smells and flavours of plants and they may interact with cannabinoids because they are also found in the trichomes of the plants. This may contribute to what is called the entourage effect, which means the combination of effects from different cannabis compounds work together to produce an overall greater or different effect than any compound would produce on its own.

Ultimately, more research is being done to better understand CBD and its effects, but this basic information and more training for the industry should be part of your foundational knowledge.

Want to know more about training to open a cannabis business?

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