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Where Does CBD Come From?


Most everyone knows that CBD is a cannabis product, meaning it is sourced from the same plant that some people use to get high. However, because most CBD products are non-psychoactive, many users aren’t quite sure how CBD gets made.

Whether you use CBD avidly or are a newcomer to the CBD space, here’s a quick review of where CBD comes from and why it usually won’t give you a psychoactive experience.

CBD Usually Comes From Industrial Hemp

Since the 1970s, the United States has not legally differentiated between different types of cannabis, but that changed in 2018. The most recent Farm Bill passed by the U.S. Congress introduces a new hemp law, which defines the term hemp as cannabis that contains less than .3 percent THC. More importantly, it permits farmers to cultivate hemp, as long as they are properly regulated by state and federal agencies, and it legalizes products derived from hemp — which includes CBD.

Almost all CBD products are sourced from hemp instead of other forms of cannabis. First, because hemp is legal at the federal level and cultivated in most states, it is much easier for CBD manufacturers to obtain and process hemp; secondly, because hemp must naturally contain less THC, there is less energy required to extract CBD and remove unwanted compounds. As a result, hemp-derived CBD products tend to be more affordable than CBD products you might find made from other cannabis varieties and available in dispensaries alone.

Admittedly, industrial hemp can have differences in quality. If you are concerned about chemical contaminants, like pesticides or preservatives, you might look for hemp-derived CBD products that were organically grown. This might increase the price of the product, but if you are sensitive to chemical additives, it might be worth the extra cost.

CBD Is Processed to Remove Unwanted Materials

Farmers grow and harvest the hemp, and then they sell or send their crop to be processed by manufacturers into CBD products. There are several ways to extract CBD from hemp plant material, but the most common include:

CO2 Extraction


Using complex equipment to shift CO2 into different phases of matter — gas, liquid, solid — manufacturers can separate natural cannabis oils from the fibrous plant material. The extracted cannabis oils tend to be pure, meaning there is no CO2 or other solvents that remain to contaminate the final product.

Though this is easily the most effective method for extracting CBD (and other cannabis compounds), it is by no means the most affordable. The equipment and energy requirements are costly, which can increase the ultimate cost of the final product. However, if purity of product matters to you, then you should look for CBD brands that rely on CO2 extraction.

Solvent Extraction

Much more common until recently, solvent extraction uses a liquid like ethanol, butane or propane to dissolve cannabis compounds and wash away unwanted plant matter. Often, cannabis requires several washes to fully extract the desired compounds, and afterwards, additional refinement processes are required to remove the solvent from the final product.

Though much more affordable than CO2 extraction, solvent extraction comes with some downsides. Most notably, it is rare that manufacturers succeed in removing all of a solvent from the product, and solvents aren’t always safe to consume. If you are interested in taking advantage of the lower prices of this manufacturing method, you should try to find CBD products extracted with food-grade ethanol, which is safer to absorb than butane or propane.

You Can Make CBD Products at Home

If you want to experience the science and art of creating your own CBD products, the good news is DIY CBD is entirely possible. You can start from any stage of the process: growing your own low-THC cannabis (as long as home cultivation is legal in your state), refining store-bought cannabis, mixing extracted CBD into other products like cooking oils or lotions, etc. By choosing to DIY your CBD, you can truly understand where this miracle compound comes from — and you might even appreciate its effects even more.

Researchers have known about CBD since the 1940s, but the public is only just beginning to understand the noteworthy benefits of this simple cannabis compound. Learning where CBD comes from might make you feel a bit more comfortable with using it in your daily life — or it might help you convince friends and family to give CBD a chance at curing what ails them.

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