What Is CBD Hemp Flower? Our Ultimate Guide To CBD-Rich Cannabis Flower

CBD is here to stay! The growth of the CBD industry since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill is jaw-dropping, to say the least. In a 2020 Single Care study, one-third of Americans surveyed said that they had tried CBD products. 

While CBD has found its way into countless products, from coffee to dog treats, many Americans don’t know that the active ingredient, CBD, comes from hemp flower— a nearly identical flower to federally-illegal marijuana flower. 

Intrigued? We thought so! In this post, we’ll talk about what hemp flower is, where it comes from, how hemp is different from marijuana, and more…


What Is A Hemp Flower?
Are CBD Hemp And Marijuana The Same?
Are There Benefits To Smoking Hemp Flower?
Is CBD Hemp Flower Legal?

What Is A Hemp Flower? 

CBD hemp flower, sometimes referred to as hemp buds, are the flowers of female hemp plants. As a female hemp plant enters the flowering stage of its lifecycle, it diverts energy away from growing taller to producing sticky, trichome-covered flowers to catch airborne hemp pollen. 

Trichomes are like nature’s velcro— they catch pollen out of the air and deter would-be predators with their pungent smell and bitter taste. Trichomes are also where CBD and other phytocannabinoids are created and stored. 

Hemp flowers that catch airborne pollen stop producing large amounts of cannabinoids and end up producing seeds. Female hemp plants that are never pollinated make more trichomes and end up creating more sought-after cannabinoids. The hemp flowers that we smoke and extract CBD from come from unpollinated female hemp plants. 

What Is A Hemp Flower Defined As In The 2018 Farm Bill? 

According to an official USDA memo, hemp is defined as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC and can no longer included on the DEA’s schedule I controlled substance list.1 The Farm Bill also says that hemp and hemp derivatives as defined by the bill are considered to be agricultural commodities and are allowed to cross state lines. 

Some states, like Idaho and Texas, have since banned the sale of smokable hemp flower in-state. But that can’t stop entities like the United States Postal Service from delivering hemp and hemp flower to residential addresses in that state.2

A simple diagram of the CBD molecule that contains 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms.
A single molecule of CBD (C21H30O2)

What Is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a phytocannabinoid produced by hemp plants. CBD is not psychoactive and won’t make you feel high when you smoke or ingest it. 

As of this writing, there aren’t many FDA-backed studies on CBD’s effects on humans, though there is an FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex, that’s derived from CBD oil that’s used to manage rare forms of epilepsy. 3

Read more about CBD and how it interacts with your body here.

Are CBD Hemp And Marijuana The Same?

Hemp flower and marijuana are not legally the same things. While they are both flowers of the Cannabis Sativa— look, smell, and smoke the same; the effects you get from smoking each couldn’t be more different. 

A CBD hemp flower bud side by side with a THC cannabis bud. Text over each bud reads "CBD Hemp" and "THC Marijuana" The Sunset Lake CBD logo is in the lower right corner

What Does Hemp Flower Do? 

A lot of the physiological science about consuming hemp flower is still in the early stages— though that’s what happens when a substance is placed on the schedule I list for so long— we stunt research. 

(This writer is a little salty about it)

There is a growing online community of hemp flower users, smokers, bakers, and extractors that are amassing a treasure trove of personal experience with hemp flower. Many of these users report that CBD hemp flower helps them manage a range of issues and symptoms like,

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has so far only approved Epidiolex to manage rare forms of epilepsy, they are hesitant to allow companies to make claims about CBD hemp flower because its effects are under-researched. 3

Does CBD Hemp Flower Get You High?

This is a great question. Hemp flower is supposed to only contain trace amounts of THC. The legal definition of hemp is that it “contains no more than 0.3% of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol by dry weight,” meaning that one gram of dried flower should contain no more than 3mg of delta-9 THC. 

To put that in perspective, a standard king-sized one-gram joint of hemp shouldn’t contain more than 3mg of delta-9 THC. Some states have also further defined hemp as containing no more than 1% of total THC by dry weight— 10mg in our example— an important distinction we’ll break down in just a sec. 

Continue reading: CBD Hemp vs. Marijuana

Hemp Flower Can Get You High? 

The total THC rules have been introduced in a handful of states and there’s a movement to add this to the federal definition. That’s because the Farm Bill definition of hemp is written so specifically, that folks in the cannabis and hemp industry have found countless workarounds in order to sell higher-THC flowers online. 

Delta-8 THC flower is one such example. Delta-8 THC is not a cannabinoid that commonly appears in nature though it does induce the same psychoactive effects as delta-9 THC. Delta-8 hemp flower producers first must wash pure CBD isolate in an acetate acid bath to make delta-8 THC distillate which they then spray over hemp flower. 

Another high-THC flower you may find online is called THCa flower. THCa is short for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol acid, is the acidic precursor molecule to delta-9 THC. When you buy recreational marijuana, you’re buying THCa-rich flower and converting the THCa into active THC when you decarboxylate it with heat via smoking it. By marketing THCa flower as a “hemp flower,” cultivators have found a very semantic work around the spirit of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

If the total THC rule is put into effect, both delta-8 (and other novel forms of THC) flower and THCa flower would be considered marijuana and banned from cross-state sales.

Is Hemp Flower Safe?

For the purpose of this section, hemp flower will refer to CBD-rich hemp flower that contains no more than 1% of total THC. 

CBD has been found to be non-toxic to humans, even in cases of extreme dosing.8 No fatalities have been attributed to CBD ingestion. The World Health Organization in a 2017 memo, said that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of abuse or dependence potential.”10 CBD is neither toxic nor is it habit-forming, though it does have some side effects.

What Are Hemp Flower’s Side Effects

A 2017 issue of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research discussed the side effects of CBD use.9 The most common included,

  • Feelings of nausea
  • Mood changes 
  • Feelings of anxiety 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Reddened eyes 
  • Drowsiness 

CBD hemp flower can also interact with certain medications. If you are taking medications, you should consult with a health professional before using CBD hemp flower. 

Are There Benefits To Smoking Hemp Flower?

Let’s preface this section by saying that smoking anything, hemp or otherwise is inherently risky.  That said, smoking hemp flower does present some key benefits. 

Increased Bioavailability 

Smoking hemp flower and inhaling the vaporized CBD will actually increase its bioavailability, a term that refers to a substance’s ability to be absorbed and used by the body. [11]

Faster Than Other Methods

One of the most noticeable effects of smoking hemp flower is the speed at which its CBD enters your bloodstream. When you inhale vaporized CBD it comes in contact with your lung’s network of capillaries almost immediately and can reach peak concentration in your bloodstream in just three minutes.12

Read More: 5 Benefits of Smoking CBD Flower

Are There Other Ways To Use Hemp Flower? 

In addition to smoking hemp flower or hemp pre-rolls, there are plenty of other ways that you can use hemp flower and unlock the CBD inside. 

Vaporize Your Hemp Flower

Vaporizing hemp flower is a lot like smoking hemp flower, but without the combustion and nasty ash. A lot of people prefer vaping to smoking for a number of reasons like smell, ease, and health. 

A pile of delicious looking CBD edibles cookies.

Bake Your Hemp Flower Into CBD Edibles

You can turn your CBD hemp flower into any number of tasty homemade treats that will be sure to help you relax and melt into the couch at the end of a long day. A number of people prefer edibles to smoking hemp flower because of the duration of effects, convenience, and taste— who doesn’t love a good cookie? 

In fact, we have plenty of blogs to help you get started making edibles at home! 

  1. Your quick and fun guide to baking hemp edibles!
  2. The do’s and don’t of making CBD edibles 
  3. What is decarboxylation and why you need to start doing it

Extract The CBD From Your Hemp Flower

If you don’t want to smoke hemp flower and instead want to use the CBD inside for another project, you can do so using either ethanol or some form of fat, like coconut oil. Extracts can be used in tons of products like tinctures, topicals, and even candy

Tumble Your Hemp Flower For Kief 

Kief is the term for the collection of trichomes that can break off cannabis flower— hemp or marijuana. Generally, kief is more potent than the flower it’s sifted from and can be used to enhance your smoking, vaping, or baking experience. 

Is CBD Hemp Flower Legal?

This blog post is not and should not be considered legal advice. We are publishing this in the state of Vermont for purely informational purposes. If you have any questions about your state and hemp, please contact a LOCAL attorney. 

According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is “cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC.13 and is no longer included on the DEA’s schedule I controlled substances list. Hemp is now considered by the federal government to be an agricultural commodity and certain products, like CBD hemp flower and products derived from the hemp plant, are considered federally legal.

Aside from hemp flower cultivation, the processing, sale, and transportation of CBD hemp flower products are also legal. (Provided your vendor has the right paperwork!)

Can You Buy CBD Hemp Flower Online?

You can buy and have CBD-rich hemp flower online delivered directly to your door or P.O. box by the United States Postal Service. As of right now, states can’t interfere with legal interstate commerce. But before you buy any hemp flower online, you should equip yourself as a buyer. Because the world of online hemp is unregulated and there are some bad actors out there. 

Read more about buying CBD hemp flower online. 

Test Results! 

Before you buy any hemp flower online, you should look for that product’s corresponding test results. Sometimes called “batch tests” or “certificate of analysis,” these documents should tell you exactly what’s in your CBD hemp flower. That includes cannabinoids, terpenes, any heavy metals, and residual pesticides. 

We have a whole guide about reading these technical documents that you can find here! 

Grower’s License

For your health and safety, you should only buy hemp flower grown in the United States. All hemp cultivators and most vendors are required to hold a USDA hemp program license.

Find Sunset Lake CBD’s Grower’s License Here.

This license isn’t just for your benefit though. It can also be helpful if any United States Postal Inspection Service member decides to pull your package because it smells like cannabis.

Updated February 10, 2023


  1. Vaden, Stephen. “Memorandum to the USDA: Executive Summary of New Hemp Authorities.” 28 May 2019. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/HempExecSumandLegalOpinion.pdf
  2. KaB, LLC. vs. United States Postal Service. Docket No. MLB 18-39. 8 November 2018. USPS. https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/judicial/admin-decisions/2018/mlb-18-39-fd.htm?fbclid=IwAR2Jl8oZs7f0fah-E-BQ_YF23ezjn1hw2MqIAe4U_L94YRps1mguJakM8xs
  3. “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 25 June 2018. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms. Press Release. 
  4. Babson, Kimberly A et al. “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature.” Current psychiatry reports vol. 19,4 (2017): 23. doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0775-9
  5. Blessing, Esther M et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics: the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics vol. 12,4 (2015): 825-36. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
  6. Pinto, Joaquim S, and Fátima Martel. “Effects of Cannabidiol on Appetite and Body Weight: A Systematic Review.” Clinical drug investigation vol. 42,11 (2022): 909-919. doi:10.1007/s40261-022-01205-y
  7. Frane, Nicholas et al. “Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study.” Journal of cannabis research vol. 4,1 47. 24 Aug. 2022, doi:10.1186/s42238-022-00154-9
  8. Bergamaschi, Mateus Machado et al. “Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent.” Current drug safety vol. 6,4 (2011): 237-49. doi:10.2174/157488611798280924
  9. Iffland, Kerstin, and Franjo Grotenhermen. “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research vol. 2,1 139-154. 1 Jun. 2017, doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034
  10. “What is Cannabidiol and is it safe?” World Health Organization, WHO, https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/cannabidiol-(compound-of-cannabis). Accessed 9 Feb. 2023
  11. Huestis, Marilyn A. “Human cannabinoid pharmacokinetics.” Chemistry & biodiversity vol. 4,8 (2007): 1770-804. doi:10.1002/cbdv.200790152
  12. Crean, Rebecca D et al. “An evidence-based review of acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functions.” Journal of addiction medicine vol. 5,1 (2011): 1-8. doi:10.1097/ADM.0b013e31820c23fa
  13. “Text – H.R.2 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.” Congress.gov, Library of Congress, 20 December 2018, https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2/text.