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Hemp, CBD, cannabis — it’s all the same, right? Not so fast.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate cannabidiol (CBD) products like they do medications and supplements, so some companies may try to get away with using the terms “hemp” and “CBD” interchangeably. But there are some key differences between the two.

Here’s how hemp gummies and CBD gummies differ, as well as how to figure out whether a product contains what it says it does.

Let’s start by exploring the difference between hemp and what’s commonly referred to as “marijuana” or “weed.”

The term “marijuana” has a controversial past and, more recently, people in the industry prefer to use “cannabis” instead.

Hemp and “marijuana” are the same species of cannabis plant. There’s no scientific difference between them.

But there is a legal distinction between the two: “Marijuana” is higher in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (containing more than 0.3 percent), while hemp is lower in THC (containing 0.3 percent or less). Both plants contain CBD and other cannabinoids.

In terms of quality, it doesn’t make a difference if a company sources their CBD from hemp or “marijuana.”

CBD oil and hemp oil are very different in terms of their composition.

Unlike CBD oil, which is made using all parts of the cannabis plant, hemp oil or hempseed oil comes from only the seeds of the plant. Hemp seeds don’t contain CBD. That means that for CBD gummies to be legit, they need to contain CBD oil, not hempseed oil.

It seems like an easy distinction, but some companies falsely market hemp gummies as CBD gummies. Unless you’re taking a closer look at the ingredients, it can be easy to fall for the fraudulent claim.

One red flag? Price. If the pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is.

While the research on CBD is still in its infancy, studies suggest that it may help with insomnia and anxiety.

Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved medication to contain CBD, can treat rare forms of epilepsy. Some people also use CBD to help with chronic pain, nausea, and depression.

Hemp gummies don’t produce the same effects as CBD gummies because they don’t contain CBD or THC.

Still, hempseed oil may have other benefits, such as helping with skin conditions like acne or psoriasis, because it has an anti-inflammatory effect. It’s also pretty nutritious. However, don’t expect it to quiet anxious thoughts or help you sleep.

You can buy both products online or in some stores.

However, it’s important to note that any supposed CBD gummies you see for sale on Amazon are most likely just hemp gummies. You can’t buy CBD gummies from the online retail giant, as Amazon prohibits CBD sales.

So, are those hemp gummies you see on Amazon a good buy? Probably not. Many hemp gummies are falsely marketed as containing CBD or providing benefits that only CBD can provide.

If you only want to consume hemp and not CBD, you’re better off looking for a hempseed oil rather than hemp gummies. There are a number of quality hempseed oils that can be easily bought online or in stores.

If you want to buy CBD gummies, buy directly from a CBD company.

Since CBD products don’t have strict FDA regulations as far as quality and purity go, we took extra care when selecting CBD gummies. We used criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency.

Each CBD gummy featured in this article:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

As a part of our selection process, we also considered:

  • the company’s certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
    • customer reviews
    • whether the company has been subject to an FDA warning letter
    • whether the company makes any unsupported health claims

When picking out hempseed oils to feature, we looked for products with:

  • lots of positive reviews
  • clear marketing that doesn’t try to dupe buyers into thinking they’re purchasing something that contains CBD

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25–$75
  • $$$ = over $75

Charlotte’s Web CBD Gummies, Calm

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 5 milligrams (mg) per gummy
  • Count: 30, 60, or 90 per container
  • COA: available online

These gummies from Charlotte’s Web contain 5 mg of CBD and 37.5 mg of lemon balm per gummy, which may produce calming effects. The lemon lime gummies are naturally flavored.

They’re also a full-spectrum product and may offer additional benefits thanks to the entourage effect.

Charlotte’s Web ships to all 50 states and Canada (for customers with a Health Canada exemption).

Use code “HEALTH15” for 15% off.

FAB CBD Chews, Anytime

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 25 mg per gummy
  • Count: 30 gummies per container
  • COA: available online

These broad-spectrum chews are GMO-free, vegan, and free of dyes or additives. They’re sweetened with organic cane sugar and include a terpene called D-limonene.

Steer clear if you’re allergic to nuts, though, because they’re manufactured in a plant that also processes nuts.

FAB CBD offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and has a rewards program.

Use code “HEALTHLINE” for 20% off your first purchase

Joy Organics Premium CBD Gummies

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 10 mg per gummy
  • Count: 30 gummies per container
  • COA: available online

These gummies from Joy Organics are available in two flavors: green apple and strawberry lemonade. They’re vegan, gluten-free, and sweetened with organic cane sugar and tapioca syrup.

The company has a rewards program for frequent shoppers and also offers carbon-neutral shipping.

Use code “healthcbd” for 15% off.

Zatural Virgin Cannabis Hemp Oil

  • Price: $–$$$

Zatural sells both CBD and hempseed products. Each type of product is sold through different sections on their website and is clearly labeled. For example, the product label for this oil clearly states “no added CBD.”

Made from Canadian- and U.S.-grown hemp, this oil is vegan and can be consumed or applied topically. It comes in unflavored or peppermint varieties.

Nutiva Hemp Seed Oil

  • Price: $–$$

Nutiva’s unflavored, cold-pressed hempseed oil is easy to find in stores or online. It can be used topically or added to food or beverages. If you consume it, Nutiva suggests using it raw or lightly heated.

The oil is certified USDA organic, non-GMO, fair trade certified, and vegan.

When buying a CBD or hempseed product, you’ll want to look out for the following:

CBD source

If you’re buying a CBD product, consider what type of CBD is in it. There are three types:

  • CBD isolate
  • full-spectrum
  • broad-spectrum

Isolate is pure CBD and contains no other cannabinoids from the plant. If you want to avoid THC altogether, an isolate is probably your best option. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, there’s always a chance that any CBD product could contain trace amounts of THC. This may be particularly important if you undergo drug testing.

Second, the extraction process for CBD isolate, compared with full- and broad-spectrum CBD, is pretty involved and can strip away beneficial compounds like terpenes. That means that CBD isolate may not have the same health benefits as other types of CBD.

Broad-spectrum CBD doesn’t usually contain THC, but full-spectrum products do. The entourage effect suggests that CBD and THC may have more profound effects when taken together instead of alone.

Hempseed oil doesn’t contain CBD. Avoid products that claim to contain CBD but only include hempseed oil on the label. Additionally, if you see a CBD product that doesn’t tell you the exact form of CBD included, that’s a red flag.

Ingredients

Whether you’re buying hempseed oil or CBD gummies, it’s important to review the ingredient list. Hempseed oil should generally only have a single ingredient, though sometimes flavoring is added.

Some CBD gummies contain added ingredients, like lemon balm or melatonin, to boost the product’s effects or help make the flavor more palatable.

If you’re vegan or want to avoid artificial ingredients, be sure the ingredients list suits your needs.

Third-party testing

Hempseed oil isn’t necessarily going to be third-party tested, but this extra step doesn’t hurt.

But CBD products should absolutely come with a COA from a reputable, independent, third-party lab. Check the COA to be sure it includes the following:

  • The date. Ideally, the COA should be no more than a year old.
  • Potency. The amount of CBD listed on the COA should match what’s on the product’s packaging. Some variation is normal, but it shouldn’t be off by more than 10 to 20 percent.
  • Contaminant testing. Check to be sure the product passes tests for heavy metals, pesticides, and molds, at a minimum.

CBD doesn’t produce the same “high” as THC, but it can cause mild side effects in some people. Some side effects include:

  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • weight loss or gain
  • appetite changes

Generally, though, CBD is considered safe.

Whether you plan on taking CBD or hemp, talk with a healthcare professional or cannabis clinician before doing so. CBD, hemp, and some supplements may interact with certain medications.

Doing your homework is the best way to avoid being taken advantage of when buying CBD products.

Don’t be fooled by over-the-top marketing claims and wishy-washy descriptions. CBD gummies aren’t the same as hemp gummies.

CBD gummies are pricier and may help with a range of conditions. Hemp gummies, while nutritious, don’t produce the same effects as CBD gummies. They’re also generally less expensive, and it can be tough to find a quality version. If you’re interested in the benefits of hemp, you may be best off taking hempseed oil rather than hemp gummies.

Regardless of whether you decide to take CBD or hemp, talk with a healthcare professional before adding it to your daily routine.

Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.