A flowering hemp flower cola. Text reads "What is CBD hemp flower? A guide"

It smells like cannabis, it looks like cannabis, hell, it even smokes like cannabis, but it doesn’t get you high. That’s right, today we’re looking at CBD hemp flower.

The cannabidiol we extract from hemp flower has found its way into countless consumer products, but in this post, we’re going to the source. By the end of this post, you’ll know,

  • What CBD hemp flower is
  • Where it comes from
  • How it differs from THC-dominant cannabis
  • And some of the benefits you’ll experience from using it

Jump To:

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 CBD Hemp Flower? 

CBD hemp flower, sometimes called hemp buds, are the flowers of female hemp plants. As a female hemp plant enters the flowering stage of its lifecycle, it stops growing taller and diverts its energy into seed production. Female hemp plants produce sticky, trichome-covered flowers to catch airborne pollen and produce seeds.

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. 

Female hemp plants that don’t catch pollen 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. 

A close up of a hemp flower's trichomes
A close up of developed trichomes on matured hemp flower

How Is Hemp Flower Defined?

The USDA defines hemp flower as cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC.

Because of this legal distinction, hemp is 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. 

Some states, like Idaho and Texas, have since banned the sale of smokable hemp flower in-state. But you can still buy hemp online from online retailers and have it delivered right to your door.2

Are CBD Hemp And Marijuana The Same?

Hemp flower and marijuana are, legally speaking, not the same.

CBD hemp flower and marijuana are both flowers from the cannabis plant. They look, smell, and smoke the same way. The distinguishing feature is their THC content.

CBD hemp flower cannot contain more than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight. If it does, that flower is considered to be marijuana and has psychoactive properties.


What Does Hemp Flower Do? 

A lot of the research about consuming hemp flower is still in the early stages. We have cannabis’s 60 years on the DEA’s Schedule I to thank for that.

(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,

  • Restlessness and sleep 4 
  • Appetite 6 
  • Feelings of anxiety 5
  • Pain caused by arthritis or other joint issues 7
  • Sore muscles caused by overuse
  • Excessive stress 
  • Number and severity of seizures 
  • And more… 

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. Because CBD hemp flower can, by definition, only contain little THC, consuming it should not get you high.

Hemp flower “contains no more than 0.3% of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol by dry weight.” If we do a bit of math, 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 shortly. 

This Kind Of Hemp Flower Can Get You High 

Some lawmakers have introduced total THC rules in a handful of states. There is a growing movement on the federal level to make this change, too.  That’s because the 2018 Farm Bill definition of hemp is written so specifically that folks in the cannabis and hemp industry exploit workarounds in order to sell high-THC flowers online. 

Delta-8 THC flower is one such example. It 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. Because delta-8 and delta-9 THC aren’t the same, it’s in a legal gray area. 

You may also find THCa flowers online. THCa is short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid and is the 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 semantic work around the spirit of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

If the federal government adopts a total THC rule, there’s a good chance that both Delta-8 and THCa hemp flowers would be classified as marijuana.

Is Hemp Flower Safe?

Many studies have found CBD to be nontoxic to humans, even in cases of extreme dosing.8 No fatalities have been attributed to CBD. The World Health Organization, in a 2017 memo, said, “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of abuse or dependence potential.”10 CBD is neither toxic nor 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 include,

  • 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?

A woman smoking a CBD hemp flower preroll

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 increases its bioavailability. Bioavailability 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 vaporized CBD comes in contact with capillaries in your lungs, it reaches peak concentration in your bloodstream in just three minutes.12

Are There Other Ways To Use Hemp Flower? 

In addition to smoking hemp flower or prerolls, 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 ash. A lot of people prefer vaping to smoking for a number of reasons, like smell, ease, and health. 

Turning Your Hemp Flower Into Ingestibles

You can turn your CBD hemp flower into any number of CBD products yourself. Many people turn their CBD buds into CBD oils and edibles.

Check out the following blogs to start making your own CBD products today.

  1. Hemp Edibles: Your Quick and Fun Guide To Baking With CBD
  2. How To Make Your Own CBD Oil In 6 Easy Steps
  3. The Dos & Don’ts of Making CBD Edibles
  4. What Is Decarboxylation & 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!  

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. 

The USDA considers hemp to be “cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC.13 and an agricultural commodity. 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 CBD-rich hemp flower online and have it delivered directly to your door or P.O. box by the United States Postal Service. Before you buy any products online, you should equip yourself as a buyer.

Read more: What to do before you buy CBD 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. 

Grower’s License

For your health and safety, you should only buy hemp flower grown in the United States. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use hemp flower?

You can use hemp flower in many different ways:

  • You can smoke loose buds
  • Smoke it in pre-rolls
  • Vaporize it,
  • Brew it into teas
  • Or, extract the cannabidiol and infuse it into oils or edibles.

Will It Get Me High?

Using hemp flower should not get you high. Because it only contains small amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, you should only experience the therapeutic benefits of CBD.

Are there different strains?

Yes, there are many different strains of hemp flower, each with its own cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Popular hemp strains include Lifter, Sour Space Candy, and Pink Panther.

How should I store hemp flower?

Store hemp flower in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Use airtight containers to maintain freshness and potency.

Will hemp flower cause a failed drug test?

Yes, using hemp flower can cause you to fail a drug test.

Hemp flower contain trace amounts of THC and should be used with caution. Workplace drug tests do not distinguish between the small amounts of THC in hemp and the larger amounts in cannabis flowers.


June 6, 2024


  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.