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What Does CBD Weed Look Like?

Published January 19, 2023
What Does CBD Weed Look Like? - Secret Nature

As you explore the world of online hemp flower, one of the first factors you’ll need to consider is how to tell CBD hemp flower apart from THC weed. Both for your own purposes and as insurance against potential law enforcement interactions, it’s important to know how to tell CBD flower and THC flower apart, but doing so isn’t quite as easy as it seems.

In this guide, learn how to identify CBD hemp flower, discover how CBD flower and THC weed are chemically different, and find out how to tell the difference between the two. While separating CBD flower from THC flower might still pose inherent challenges, you’ll be equipped by the end to tell the difference between the two just like the best.

Part 1: How do you identify a hemp flower?

Let’s start with the absolute basics: What are the identifying characteristics of CBD hemp flower that you can use to separate it from THC? On the surface level, there isn’t much you can use to tell the two apart, but that doesn’t mean you’re entirely without options if you need to identify CBD hemp flower.

What do hemp buds smell like?

Hemp buds smell just like THC weed, but in some cases, they might smell more earthy or grassy since CBD flower is often lamentably low-quality. The best CBD hemp buds, however, smell exactly like top-shelf cannabis available at adult-use THC dispensaries.

So, there’s nothing in the aroma of CBD hemp flower that will help you tell it apart from THC weed. The two smell exactly alike.

Do hemp buds have trichomes?

Yes, hemp buds have trichomes just like THC buds. These oil-filled, crystalline sacs appear on the surface of Cannabis sativa buds during maturation regardless of the strain’s dominant cannabinoid.

Some hemp buds might have fewer trichomes than the type of weed you’re used to, but that’s only if they’re low quality. High-quality CBD hemp buds produce just as many trichomes as top-shelf THC flower.

Is CBD bud sticky?

Yes, CBD buds are sticky just like their THC equivalents. Some CBD buds might be less sticky than THC weed, but others might be even stickier. It all depends on the genetics of the cannabis in question and how it was bred.

You won’t be able to tell hemp flower apart from weed based on its stickiness. While low-quality hemp isn’t very sticky, the same can be said for low-quality THC weed.

Does CBD bud have seeds?

Just as is the case with THC flower, CBD buds should not have any seeds. The presence of seeds in any type of cannabis buds is usually a sign of hermaphroditism, which reduces the quality and potency of both THC weed and CBD flower.

So, the presence of seeds is not a sign that cannabis in your possession is hemp and not weed. You’ll need to perform further analysis to tell these two types of cannabis flower apart.

Section summary: Is it possible to identify hemp flower?

Yes, you can identify hemp flower, but usually only with professional lab testing. That is, of course, only if you don’t want to try the flower yourself to determine its effects firsthand. Going to the extent of having your cannabis tested in a lab also assumes that you’ve tried to identify the flower via conventional means such as consulting labeling or searching for online information first.

Part 2: Chemical composition of hemp flower

Ultimately, the best way to tell the difference between CBD hemp flower and THC weed is to judge the chemical composition of the cannabis sample in your possession. Doing so with laboratory equipment isn’t usually within the means of the average consumer, but you can use deductive reasoning to get a bit closer to your answer.

Prevalence of THC in cannabis

As the dominant cannabinoid in cannabis for millennia, THC is most likely to be the dominant cannabinoid in any random cannabis sample based on pure probability. It’s unknown exactly how much cannabis in the world contains high concentrations THC, but the figure is likely larger than 90%.

Prevalence of CBD in cannabis

While CBD has been present in reasonably large quantities in certain strains of cannabis for centuries, it’s only recently that producers have deliberately bred cannabis to express higher concentrations of CBD. As a result, CBD cannabis strains are much rarer, and a random cannabis sample is probably less than 10% likely to be high-CBD and low-THC.

Impact of chemical composition & genetics on cannabis appearance

Unfortunately, the cannabinoid composition of cannabis cannot be used to predict its appearance or aroma. Over the centuries (and especially over the last few decades), cannabis has been bred again and again to produce flowers that are sometimes purple, sometimes dense, sometimes light green, or sometimes airy.

Both CBD and THC strains can have any of these attributes and more. Attempting to determine the difference between CBD hemp and THC flower via appearance alone will only confuse the situation even further.

Part 3: How to tell the difference between hemp flower and weed

The first thing you should do when you’re trying to tell the difference between CBD hemp flower and THC weed is to look for product information for the product in your possession. Next, you should consider simply trying the product if you aren’t averse to its potential effects.

If all else fails, any local or national cannabis testing lab would be happy to test your sample using professional analytical equipment. Learn more about each option for separating CBD hemp flower from THC marijuana below:

Analyze product information

Before taking any other steps, do the most obvious first: Look at the information provided with your cannabis product for clues regarding the cannabinoids it contains.

Most cannabis flower packages, for instance, will feature prominent lettering indicating both the cannabinoids contained and their percentages. A THC vape, for instance, might say “80% THC” somewhere on the front, and CBD flower products are almost always labeled with abundant clarity to show they contain CBD and not THC.

If an inspection of the physical product and its packaging doesn’t settle the matter, seek out more information on the web. In most cases, performing a search for the name of the brand combined with the product name is enough to come up with its official page.

Searching “secret nature dough boy” in Google, for instance, will come up with this CBD hemp flower product’s full product page, featuring everything from customer reviews to third-party lab reports.

Try the product

The next most-obvious step is to simply try the product for yourself. The main reason you might not want to do so is that you don’t like the effects of THC, which is understandable enough.

If your cannabis truly contains THC and your tolerance is low since you don’t commonly use this cannabinoid, though, even a tiny hit should be enough to determine the cannabinoid profile of the cannabis flower. Such a small hit, though, won’t be enough to trigger THC’s notable negative effects.

There’s always the potential that you’re commonly subjected to drug testing as well. Even so, a very small hit of THC flower shouldn’t be enough to make you test positive for marijuana since small amounts of this cannabinoid process out of your system quite quickly.

Just “smoking the weed” is undeniably the easiest way to determine whether your cannabis contains CBD or THC if product information doesn’t yield the desired information. Further options at your disposal will be costlier and much more time-consuming.

Send it in for lab testing

Finally, it’s time to discuss the “nuclear option:” Getting your cannabis professionally tested. The reason this solution might seem extreme is that lab testing for cannabis usually costs at least $100 per sample, which is most likely considerably more than you paid for your hemp or weed.

Having your cannabis lab-tested, though, is the only definitive way to determine its cannabinoid profile. You ultimately might determine that this step is necessary if there is the potential of losing your employment or freedom due to allegations of marijuana possession, but sending a sample into a cannabis testing lab is both complicated and expensive.

First, you’ll need to find a lab in your state or a lab that accepts out-of-state sample submissions. Without knowing whether or not your sample contains high concentrations of THC, shipping it across state lines can be challenging since THC is a federally illegal substance.

Once you find a lab, receiving your results could take anywhere from 1-14 days. You will also not receive your sample back.

The bottom line: Does CBD bud look different?

No, CBD bud doesn’t look any different from THC marijuana, which can pose challenges for many users. Just remember that a cannabis lab has the ability to determine the cannabinoid concentration of your sample — if you want to pay the price and are able to get it to their facility.

It’s certainly possible, therefore, to tell the difference between THC and CBD flower, but not for the average person without consulting product information or testing the product. Both scientifically fascinating and practically frustrating, the fact that weed and hemp don’t look different continues to be one of the most interesting facets of cannabis as a species.

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