How to Tell CBD Flower from Weed

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In the world of cannabis, two compounds have become the most popular of the more than 100 cannabinoids that exist. THC and CBD have created a market that, unlike some years ago, can now benefit both those who can withstand the intoxicating effects of marijuana and those who desire a grounding smoke.

However, there have already been several cases in which users end up buying something different from what they wanted due to the similarity between these two types of flowers. Even worse, many CBD users have had their flower confiscated just because they resemble weed, which is still illegal on a federal level. How can we differentiate CBD flower from weed? Read on to avoid confusion in the future.

What is CBD Flower

CBD flower, also known as hemp flower, is a soothing variety of the cannabis sativa plant that contains high levels of CBD and low THC concentrations (less than 0.3%).

For centuries, the cannabis plant has given us the opportunity to transform all of its parts into different resources. We can use its fiber to create textiles and rope; its leaves make a perfect tea; and its seeds are nutritious and rich in protein, making for a great granola breakfast to stay healthy.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is now legally grown, processed, sold, and consumed in all 50 states in the U.S. This step forward has opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities, where people can access the benefits of CBD easier than ever before.

CBD vs Cannabis

Because CBD and hemp are interchangeable terms, many believe that these two are completely different plants. However, the truth is that both hemp, the main source of CBD, and marijuana are the same cannabis sativa L. species. The only difference between them is the dominant cannabinoid they have: hemp plants contain more CBD, while marijuana plants develop higher levels of THC.

To avoid any confusion, the best way to tell a CBD flower from weed is to refer to the high-CBD one as hemp and the THC-rich strains as marijuana or weed. This way, we’re not referring to a difference in terms of plant species but a difference in cannabinoid concentration. Next time someone asks you if you want to smoke marijuana, you’ll instantly know they are talking about THC-rich buds.

How to Tell CBD Flower from Weed

While the easiest way to tell these two types of cannabis flower apart is by smoking and waiting for their effects to appear, it’s better to avoid any unwanted situations. CBD flower won’t give you a high, making it safe for those who have a low THC tolerance. Still, a few more indicators can help you recognize hemp flower next time you visit your nearest dispensary or try to buy it online.

Crystal Formations

Nobody can resist a beautiful, sparkly trichome coat, right? These tiny particles make your nugs shinier, resinous, and deliver a great deal of kief. Curiously enough, THC flower contains more trichome formations than CBD.

The reason behind this slightly unfortunate news is that THC has been around for quite some time, giving breeders and growers a head start on growing precious cannabis nugs with a high resin content. On the contrary, hemp has only started to impact the market, making its buds a bit less developed and shiny.


Most quality CBD flowers have a glowing green color, with some darker hues going on here and there. While color isn’t an easy indicator that can help you tell CBD flower from weed, it can certainly help you choose your buds wisely. Avoid buying nugs that look brown, red, or yellow.


The beautiful hairs that run all over your tantalizing bud are pistils. These tiny hairs have amazing orange, purple, or white colors that indicate the quality of your bud. Again, this isn’t a great difference between CBD flower and weed, as both types develop these pistils. Still, it’s a nice indicator that your hemp is top-quality.

Contact Manufacturer

When you’re unsure about the product you have in your hands, it’s better to contact the manufacturer directly. More often than not, vendors sell cannabis products that don’t align with what is stated on the label, putting your life at risk.

At a dispensary, the budtender should give you all the information about the manufacturer of your CBD flower and the details of the product itself. If you can’t obtain that information, it’s better to stay away from it.

Check Label

The best way to tell CBD flower from weed is to check the label and read the cannabinoid concentrations your flower has. Remember that CBD flower must have less than 0.3% THC to be considered legal; this is especially important if you live in a state where THC isn’t legal yet. To better understand what your flower's label should look like, go to our hemp flower labeling requirements article to learn more.

Lab Test

Another great way to check the components in your CBD flower is to check the lab test. Any reliable cannabis company must have a Certificate of Analysis, in which you can find the exact cannabinoid count and terpene content of your product.

A third party should run these lab tests, and you should be able to find them on the manufacturer's website or the product label under a QR code. Trying CBD flower for the first time must be scary, especially if you’re new to the cannabis world. Fortunately, we like to guide people through their journey with amazing products that push away the misconceptions society has around hemp.

If you want an energy rush and love tropical flavors, our 15% CBD Sour Hawaiian Haze is one of the best CBD flowers you can find on the market. On the contrary, if you would like to try a more grounding smoke with flavors that take you to a calm forest, the Abacus 2.0 strain is ideal for you.

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