Do You Know What's In Your CBD?


CBD: What’s Your Source?

Many patients have turned to Cannabidiol or CBD, to help manage symptoms ranging from inflammation to anxiety to seizures. As a result, a variety of CBD products have appeared in health food stores and online too. Hawai’i-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries also offer CBD-dominant products. Is there a difference?

Hemp vs. Cannabis

CBD products can be made from CBD-rich strains of medicinal cannabis or from hemp, an industrial variety of cannabis sativa. Medical cannabis genetics produce resin—the sticky part of the flower where all the cannabinoids, including CBD, are found. Hemp genetics produce fiber, with minimal amounts of resin produced as a byproduct. CBD products sold in local stores and online are derived from hemp. [1] While both hemp and cannabis produce CBD, there are some major differences between the two. 


Medical Cannabis-Derived

Active ingredient

Sourced from strains that can have as much as 20 percent CBD content by weight. [2]

Product Safety

Highly regulated. All cannabis-derived products are required to pass rigorous lab testing for harmful substances such as heavy metals, pesticides, and mold before being sold in Hawai‘i State-licensed dispensaries.


Labeled for transparency. In addition to thorough lab testing, accurate labeling for active compounds including THC, THCA, and CBD are mandatory prior to sale in any Hawai‘i-licensed dispensary.


Harmonious. Medical cannabis Includes other synergistic cannabinoids and terpenes, known to increase efficacy by creating the “entourage effect.”


Active ingredient

Sourced from hemp plants with 3.5 percent CBD by weight. [2]

Product Safety

Unregulated. Hemp draws up toxins, especially heavy metals, from soil. When hemp is processed into CBD extract it can have more toxins than the plant. Other safety concerns include residual pesticides and solvents. Only some self-regulated brands of hemp-derived CBD products are grown on organically certified farms and lab- tested for toxins. [2]


CBD content is often misrepresented. A recent study found that only 31percent of CBD products sold online were labeled accurately. [3]


Includes only CBD. Hemp produces minimal amounts of other compounds if any, and heavy processing methods strip everything else out.


Hawaiʻi’s Cannabis Dispensaries Produce Consistent, Lab-Tested CBD

Hawaiʻi’s medical cannabis program has some of the nation’s strictest lab testing standards. 329 cardholders have access to CBD products containing much higher concentrations of CBD than hemp-derived products. Medical dispensary patients can be confident of the product’s origins and purity because dispensaries are able to provide lab test results for each product for customers to review.

Do Your Research

Before consuming any hemp-derived CBD product purchased online or from a store, you should know the source of that product and be able to review certified lab test results that substantiate both purity and content. Any CBD product grown, manufactured and sold by a Hawaiʻi state-licensed dispensary has been lab-tested, quality-assured, and is accurately labeled.


  1. Van Bakel H, Stout J, Cote A, Tallon C, Sharpe A,Hughes T, et al. The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa. Genome Biol. 2011; 12(10):R102.doi: 10.1186/gb-2011-12-10-r102 PMID: 22014239


  3. Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, et al. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts soldonline. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909

Justin Britt