Cannabis Oil vs. Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What’s The Difference?

Not too long ago, people were still new to all the different ways hemp and cannabis could be consumed. People just assumed that “oil” means it was just oil from a cannabis plant–and that there was only one type to choose from. Nowadays, there are plenty of oil types to choose from.

What are the differences between cannabis oil, hemp oil, and CBD oil? It all comes down to the following factors:

  • What they’re made from.
  • What their ingredients are.
  • What they are meant to do.
  • Their legality.

Understanding all the differences between cannabis, hemp, and CBD oils can be tricky if you’re new to the boom in cannabis products. This quick guide will help you get the differences faster.

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

This is generally explained by the ingredients in each type of oil. The ingredients impact their effects, their legality, and who they are best suited for. Knowing this, it’s important to take a look at each oil individually.

What Is Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis oil is oil that is made from pressed cannabis plants and encompasses all the compounds that can be extracted from cannabis through this process. Cannabis oil is not made from hemp, but rather, it’s not-so-legal marijuana counterpart instead. 

What Compounds Does Cannabis Oil Contain?

Cannabis oil has all the different compounds that you’d find in a cannabis plant, including:

  • THC. THC is the most well-known compound in cannabis and is the psychoactive agent that gives people the “high” discussed by stoners. It is known to help prevent the spread of certain cancers, gives you a euphoric feeling, and can also spark hunger. 
  • CBD. CBD is the second major compound in cannabis, and it’s tied to stress relief and pain relief. Unlike THC, it’s non-psychoactive and is legal throughout the United States.
  • Terpenes. Terpenes are the small aromatic molecules that give cannabis its signature scent. 

These three compounds are what can be found in all cannabis oils. If you are buying topical or sublingual cannabis oil, you also may find:

  • Vitamins A, C, and E. Cannabis is surprisingly rich in these compounds. They’re wonderful for skin health, brain function, as well as muscle function. 
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These lock in moisture and promote skin health. 


How Do You Use Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis oil is generally taken as a sublingual treatment, using a dropper. If you need medical marijuana but don’t want to actually smoke it. This method bypasses the stomach’s digestive tract and releases the oil directly into your bloodstream. 

Cannabis oil can also be taken like an edible. So, if you want to add it to food or drink, it’s always a possibility. 

What Is Cannabis Oil Used For?

It’s used both recreationally (for a high) and medically. When it comes to medical symptoms, cannabis oil is typically used for:

  • Pain Relief. It’s a very potent pain reliever. 
  • Depression and Anxiety. Most emotional disorders that are treated with cannabis can also be treated with cannabis oil. 
  • Cancer Relief. Patients undergoing chemotherapy tend to have good results with this treatment. 
  • Appetite Stimulation. If you suffer from hunger-related imbalances, cannabis oil can be a great way to spark your appetite back up. 
  • Recreation. It would be a lie to say that cannabis oil isn’t used by some as a way to kick back and relax. 

Is Cannabis Oil Legal? 

It depends on where you live. On a federal level, cannabis oil isn’t legal due to the concentrations of THC that are in it. However, on a state level, there’s definitely a lot more leeway. In Spain, this is available in most cannabis clubs

States that have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medicinal purposes are likely to hold cannabis oils at dispensaries. To access them, you may need a medicinal card that proves you have a condition that cannabis can treat.

What Is Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil, in many ways, is a lot like cannabis oil’s younger brother. It is derived from hemp, a close relative of the cannabis plant that does not contain THC. It is made through similar processing methods and is generally seen as a food additive, skincare product, and health supplement. 

Hemp oil can be made out of hemp leaves using specialized extractions, but in most cases, this oil is actually created using the seeds of the plant. If you aren’t sure what part of the plant your oil is derived from, it’s okay to ask.

What Compounds Does Hemp Oil Contain?

Hemp oil does not contain THC, but often contains amounts of CBD. Though it may not have many of the compounds found in cannabis in high concentrations, it does offer these important perks:

  • Vitamin A, C, and E. These vitamins are found in cannabis and hemp oils alike. With hemp oil, it’s possible to find fortified oils with extra vitamins in it. These vitamins are also excellent for skin quality and moisture retention. 
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Known for keeping skin supple, omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for joint problems and anti-aging efforts. 
  • CBD. Like with cannabis, hemp plants also can contain CBD. That being said, hemp oil often carries only a trace level of this compound. 
  • Trace Minerals. Things like selenium and iron can be found in small quantities in hemp oil. These help your body run smoothly. 

How Do You Use Hemp Oil?

Though you could technically use it as a sublingual supplement, most people who ingest hemp oil do so as a food ingredient. Hemp oil is excellent for creating your own salad dressings, meat marinades, as well as sandwich oils. 

Another common way to use hemp oil is as a topical treatment. Because of its deeply moisturizing capabilities, many people prefer to use it as a simple, natural moisturizer. It also is regularly used as a massage oil in upscale specialty spas. 

What Is Hemp Oil Used For?

For the most part, it’s used as a topical moisturizer/skin treatment and as a dietary supplement. If you are low on omega-3 fatty acids or just want to improve your skin quality, this is a great supplement to get. 

Is Hemp Oil Legal?

Unlike its cannabis twin, hemp oil is absolutely legal in all 50 states. This is because it doesn’t involve any of the compounds that are currently banned by the FDA or the DEA. Getting hemp oil is actually the easiest to do out of all three oils in this discussion. 

You can get hemp oil at almost any health food store, and nowadays, even regular grocery stores are starting to carry it. If you don’t feel like making the trek outside, you can also order it online through major sites like Amazon. 

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is a highly concentrated form of cannabidiol that is processed into oil form. It can be derived from both hemp and cannabis plants. Depending on which plant is used to process it, CBD oil can contain trace levels of THC. 

It’s worth noting that many states bar CBD oil that is derived from cannabis due to the fear of high THC levels. That said, CBD oil is only labeled CBD oil if there is a negligible amount of THC in it. 

What Compounds Does CBD Oil Have?

With CBD oil, the primary focus is on CBD. It contains very high levels of cannabidiol, though the levels can vary greatly depending on the strength of the oil itself. Some CBD oils are low concentrates, while others can contain upwards of 500 milligrams of CBD per bottle.

CBD oils can also be rich in:

  • Vitamins A, C, and E. Since CBD oil is derived from hemp and cannabis, it’s very possible to come across bottles that are rich in the same vitamins as hemp oil. This is especially true with edible CBD oils.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Much like hemp oil, CBD oil also has high quantities omega-3’s that you can enjoy.
  • Terpenes. Due to the nature of CBD oil and its fans, many companies also include terpenes in their oils as a way of giving clients their favorite flavor profiles.

Most CBD oils on store shelves are highly filtered, which means that many of the other compounds tend to be negligible in terms of strength and quantity. 

How Do You Use CBD Oil?

If you like the idea of ingesting it, CBD oil can be used as a sublingual supplement and as a food additive. This is actually one of the most common ingredients used to create CBD edibles, so cooking with it is a great way to use it. 

If you have a sprain or are currently dealing with sore muscles, CBD oil can also be used as a topical treatment. In the cannabis community, many beauticians also see it as a great additive for moisturizers.

What Is CBD Oil Used For?

CBD oil has tons of uses, which is why it’s become such a popular supplement these days. Some of the things it can help alleviate include:

  • Stress. CBD oil is an amazing stress reliever and is known to alleviate the physical issues that come with excess stress. 
  • Muscle Soreness. Did you have an extra-long run today? Did you sprain an ankle? CBD oil can help with that. Some studies even suggest that CBD can be beneficial for faster recovery.
  • Sleep Issues. CBD oil is often mixed with melatonin as a natural sleep aid.
  • Drug Withdrawal Alleviation. If you recently quit smoking cigarettes or stopped using hard drugs, CBD can be an incredible ally when it comes to withdrawals. 
  • Acne. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that CBD oil can be an effective treatment for acne. However, this hasn’t really been proven in studies quite yet. 

Is CBD Oil Legal?

As of the time of this writing, CBD oil is cleared as legal to use in all 50 states. That being said, there have been efforts in certain states to ban CBD oil. Currently, you have to be at least 18 to order CBD in most states.

Due to the age restriction on CBD oil and products, finding it in a regular drug store or grocery store may not always be doable. That being said, this oil is regularly found in “head shops” and smoke shops throughout the country.

In legalized cannabis states, it’s also fairly common to find CBD oil in dispensaries, right next to cannabis oil. These CBD oil bottles are much more likely to be derived from cannabis rather than hemp, leading to a wider spectrum of compounds. 

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Which Is The Most Expensive Oil?

When it comes to price points, pure cannabis oil is always the most expensive. The reason for that is partly due to the THC content, and also due to the large amount of red tape manufacturers have to go through in order to sell their wares. The costs add up!

The next most expensive oil is CBD oil, and this has to do with the density of cannabidiol in the oil itself. Since it is a compound that is difficult to extract, prices tend to increase proportional to the oil’s CBD content.

The most affordable oil is hemp oil, but even then, it’s a lot pricier than what one might expect of almond oil or grapeseed oil. That being said, there are even cheaper alternatives out there that mix hemp oil with cheaper oils.

How Much Should You Expect To Pay For Each Oil?

If you aren’t sure what the price range difference is, it can be hard to figure out the difference between each type of oil. Here’s what is the norm:

  • Hemp Oil. Hemp oil is, once again, the most affordable. If you go for the dirt-cheap stuff, you will be able to get it for as little as $8 per 5-ounce bottle. More expensive brands also exist, with some oils costing as much as $40 for a 5-ounce bottle. 
  • CBD Oil. CBD oil is generally sold as a tincture and will have its price vary on the quantity of CBD inside of it. Weak CBD oil can go for around $10 per bottle, but it’s very possible to find high concentration CBD for as much as $100 a pop. 
  • Cannabis Oil. Cannabis oil generally doesn’t really go for less than $40 to $60 in most regions. Depending on the concentration and the location, it is very possible to see prices as high as $150 per bottle or more. 

Is It Worth Paying Extra For These Oils?

It depends, but for the most part, it is. When it comes to pressed oil, you get what you pay for. Cheap oil will often be diluted with other oils as a way to maintain a low price. When it’s not diluted, the pressing process tends to be lacking. 

Here’s how getting low-quality oil can affect each type of oil:

  • Hemp Oil. Low-quality hemp oil tends to be mixed with other oils, or just has a poor pressing mechanism. As a result, it tends to be low in nutrients and may have a slightly “off” flavor.
  • CBD Oil. CBD oil that is cheap tends to have low concentrations of cannabidiol, or may not involve any terpenes or other enhancements. If you are looking for potent pain relief, CBD concentrations are incredibly important to watch for. 
  • Cannabis Oil. Generally speaking, cannabis oil that is obtained from dispensaries at a cheap price just won’t be very potent. If it’s obtained through a black market source, your cannabis oil may be tainted or fake. 

That being said, there are some occasions when you can find affordable oils that are true bargains. However, it’s still not something that you should bank on. 

Which Oil Offers The Most Benefits?

It all depends on what you want to do. If you’re looking for nutritional benefits, then most would say that hemp seed oil is the best. If you’re looking for a non-psychoactive supplement that eases anxiety and sore muscles, CBD oil is your best bet. 

Though both CBD and hemp oil have their own perks, it’s obvious that cannabis oil is the oil that will have the most noticeable effects when you take it. After all, it’s the only oil of the three that contains a psychoactive compound.

Are Any Of These Oils Unsafe?

Though there have been many naysayers in the past, the vast majority of science groups now believe that hemp, CBD, and cannabis oils are all generally safe for consumption. You really can’t overdose on any of them. 

That said, cannabis oil is still illegal because of safety concerns–though the concerns themselves are minimal. The biggest issue that people have with cannabis is THC, which can make certain people impaired when they try to operate heavy machinery. There are also concerns about cannabis and addiction. 

Is Cannabis Oil Addictive?

Though cannabis is generally known as a non-addictive drug, several studies have pointed out a risk of dependency. Approximately 10 percent of the population is dependent on THC, which means that, yes, frequent use may cause dependence in addiction-prone people. 

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