Not exactly, though it depends on what you mean by weed. Cannabidiol (CBD) flower IS cannabis, but not the usual kind. Normally, cannabis is bred for maximum THC content. CBD flower (as the name suggests) is bred for maximum CBD content.
Hemp growers are departing from old-school industrial hemp and applying the same artisanal growing methods used by premium marijuana farmers to hemp, right down to hand-trimming and slow-curing the buds. This flower presents a rare opportunity to consume CBD in its natural form: no processing, additives, or extraction.
CBD flower offers other advantages as well: it has the highest bioavailability of any CBD consumption method, and the effects are experienced almost instantly. At the same time, it involves inhaling smoke, something generally considered to be unhealthy (for good reason).
Further complicating things, only CBD flower with less than 0.3% THC content is even legal, and there are cases of law enforcement arresting CBD flower users because they cannot distinguish between hemp flower and marijuana .
There’s a lot to unpack here, so we put together this article as a definitive guide on CBD flower. In it we:
Explain the different types of CBD flower (and which are legal/illegal)
See how smoking/vaping CBD flower measures up to consuming CBD oil or tincture
Review the best nationally-available (and federally legal) CBD flower brands in the US.
What is CBD Flower?
CBD flower is cannabis that is grown to maximize CBD content, rather than THC. It’s the same plant (cannabis) with the same terpene + cannabinoid content, just bred for CBD.
There are four types of CBD flower:
1. Hemp Flower (Smokable Hemp)
CBD hemp flower (also known as smokable hemp) is the only type of CBD flower that is federally legal and refers ONLY to CBD flower that contains less than 0.3% THC, the limit set by the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp nationwide.
Legally speaking, the only difference between hemp and marijuana is that marijuana has THC levels higher than 0.3%. So, only CBD flower strains that are below that threshold are considered “smokable hemp,” which is legal nationally and can be ordered online. All other types of CBD flower are still legally considered marijuana.
2. CBD Dominant Flower
These commonly have between a 5:1 or 20:1 CBD:THC ratio, with more than 0.3% THC.
3. 1:1 CBD:THC Flower
These strains have an equivalent amount of CBD and THC, often in the 60-80mg per gram range of each (which is usually about 8-10% CBD & THC by weight).
4. High-THC Low-CBD Flower
These indica or sativa strains are bred to have a higher amount of CBD than typical marijuana strains while still being THC-dominant. Marijuana strains rarely contain more than 2-3% CBD, but these strains usually contain in the 3-6% range with moderate-to-high amounts of THC, along with other cannabinoids like CBG).
Advantages of CBD Flower Over Other Methods of Consumption
CBD is absorbed faster AND more efficiently through smoking (or vaping) than through oral consumption, so smoking CBD flower is actually a highly efficient way of consuming CBD.
Why is smoking CBD more efficient?
1. Smoked (or Vaped) CBD is Absorbed Instantly Through the Lungs
Oral consumption (either with a CBD oil, edible or beverage) requires that CBD pass through the digestive system and the liver. Liver enzymes break down CBD, and only a small portion of the CBD is passed into the bloodstream (where it takes effect in the body).
The poor bioavailability of ingested CBD products is why many people take tinctures, which involve holding the drops sublingually (under the tongue) where they are absorbed by the mucus membranes in the mouth and enter the bloodstream without having to go through the liver. CBD lollipops are a form of edible that is absorbed sublingually.
But smoking (or vaping) CBD is actually even more efficient than sublingual drops, because the CBD is absorbed through the alveoli of the lungs. The lungs provide a larger surface area for absorption than the mucus membranes under the tongue, so the CBD enters the bloodstream quicker and more efficiently. One study found that the bioavailability of smoked CBD is 31%, relative to an estimated 13-19% when consumed orally.
2. Smoking/Vaping CBD Flower Allows You to Consume Large Amounts of CBD Quickly
It’s not just that smoking CBD is one of the fastest/most efficient ways to consume CBD. CBD flower also provide a particularly hefty dose of the good stuff. For instance, according to their lab-test results Henry’s Original CBD Pre-Rolls have 145mg of CBD per gram. Each joint is half a gram, so that means over 70mg of CBD per pre-roll.
3. CBD Flower Is Unprocessed
This is an often-overlooked advantage of smoking CBD flower over nearly every other form of consumption (CBD oils, tinctures, edibles, beverages, and vape juices).