How do you like your CBD? In the form of a softgel? Tincture? You can have a little in your latte if you like, or you can have a CBD suppository in your … self care schedule, if you so choose. Skincare, topicals, and even intimate oils are popping up everywhere to help you get that cannabinoid everyone’s raving about in your life. People are even giving it to their pooches. What haven’t they thought of?

Ehem … How about smoking it?

That’s right, CBD is going old school format with raw hemp flower, and folks are loving it. In this article, we’ll take a look at why hemp flower has such a major following. But first things first …

What Is Hemp Flower?

Hemp Flower Smells Strong

Hemp flower comes from female hemp plants. The blooms are harvested once they have begun to secrete cannabinoids but before seeds are produced.

Hemp flower is also called “hemp bud”, “CBD flower”, and “CBD bud”. And while it looks, smells, and tastes a lot like marijuana nugs, you’re not going to get high from smoking it.

As you probably already know, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and more than 100 known cannabinoids, are found in all cannabis, in both marijuana and hemp. You’re probably also aware that in the cannabis world, marijuana = high THC, and hemp = high CBD. Each has been bred to boost the amounts of its respective dominant cannabinoid. Over the last few decades, marijuana has been cultivated to have much higher amounts of THC. The same is happening now with hemp flower, producing higher amounts of CBD. Some are even being bred to be richer in other sought after cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG).

CBD Hemp Flower Buds

While it lacks THC and its resulting psychoactive effects, it’s hard not to think of weed when you’re looking at hemp flower. This, no doubt, leads people to the next question …

Is Hemp Flower Legal?

Yes, per the gumption of the 2014 Farm Bill and the tenacity of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp that contains .3% or less THC is legal in the U.S. and is no longer lumped in with heroin and LSD as a Schedule I substance. In fact, hemp is no longer a controlled substance at all. Marijuana, however, is still locked up in Schedule I jail with the likes of heroin because it has “a high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

Wild Hemp Plants

So, if hemp flower doesn’t get you high, what does it do?

What Are the Benefits of CBD flower?

In terms of benefits, people use hemp flower for the same reasons they use other forms of CBD. They inhale hemp bud to relieve stress, inflammation, pain, and insomnia. Even though research of CBD is mostly limited to pre-clinical studies involving animals (sorry mice), many people opt to use it to help treat symptoms of arthritis, PTSD, diabetes, fibromyalgia, cancer, and more.

But in order to get those cannabinoids in CBD flower to give up those potential benefits, you’ve got to decarboxylate. Read on to find out what this mouthful of syllables means.

Activating the cannabinoids in hemp flower

If you’re a toker from back in the day (or even today), you know you can’t just ingest raw cannabis and feel the effects. Just like in all cannabis, the cannabinoids in natural, raw hemp flowers are in their inert forms. Remember, cannabinoids are molecules—we’re talking chemistry here. Before cannabinoids like CBD, THC, and CBC become active, they exist in their precursory forms: CBDA, THCA, and CBCA. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is the precursor to CBD, THCA is the precursor to THC, and so on.


So what’s the difference? Something called a carboxyl group. It’s present on the CBDA molecule, for example. And this carboxyl group prevents CBDA from binding to receptors in your body. Therefore, you won’t experience the effects of CBD.

How do you get rid of that carboxyl group and activate the cannabinoids? Through decarboxylation. Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that causes raw, inert cannabinoids to drop the carboxyl group, release a little CO2, and, voila! Activation! Only time and heating can decarb raw cannabis (in hemp or marijuana). The cannabinoids in raw cannabis will activate as it dries over long periods of time—but who’s got time for that? Heating through smoking and vaping are the best two ways to activate cannabinoids immediately.

Now that we’re all up to speed on what hemp flower is, let’s move on to …

Why Hemp Flower Is So Popular

The allure of hemp flower strains

Think of the love and creativity that go into wine and craft beer these days. Or coffee. The concern with characteristics of appearance, flavor, and smell. The imagery used by artisan and aficionado alike to describe them. The conversations to be had over the appeal of various varietals.

As with wine, craft hemp flower is blossoming into the market to offer strains that add a value of sensory and social experience. Enthusiasts gather around and converse over these artisanal consumables. Special jargon crops up in conversations about this or that strain, which is to hemp flower as a varietal is to wine.

Premium CBD Flower

Strains are the result of crossbreeding various cultivars of hemp. Growers do this in order to manipulate the presence of certain cannabinoids in hemp flowers, and, therefore, the associated effects. Along with various strains comes a range of characteristics.

For a glimpse at the world of hemp strains, take a look at these hemp flower profiles:

  • Bubba Kush CBD hemp flower is known for its sedating effect. This hemp flower combines an earthy, citrusy, woodsy aroma with smooth coffee, chocolate, and a hint of green apple flavors. Ideal for pain relief and good sleep.
  • Lifter CBD hemp flower strain is described as providing relief without drowsiness, having an earthy aroma with hints of floral notes, and a flavor that is woody and a little on the sweet side.
  • Blue Genius Hemp Strain smells of fresh piney earthiness punctuated with the sweet smell of lemon drops and orange peel. Flavors range in notes of citrus, pine, pepper, basil, and floral spice. Known for taking the edge off pain and anxiety.

The full spectrum without intoxicating effects

Another reason people are finding hemp flower so appealing is that they can enjoy all the whole plant nutrients of raw cannabis without the psychoactive effect of THC. When you get hemp flower, all the goodness of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are locked and loaded, waiting to be consumed. Unlike with marijuana, you’re only going to get a negligible amount of THC, so you won’t get high. This means you can relieve your anxiety without getting faded. You can tell your inflammation to take a hike and still be productive.

Cannabis Flower

People say hemp flower relaxes you more in the body

You can get a significant amount and range of cannabinoids into your system fairly quickly by smoking or vaping hemp flower. With this form of consuming hemp CBD, there is an appreciable absorption rate through the lungs. People use it to stave off pain and inflammation during the day and to de-stress in the evening—like a relaxation infusion.

With hemp flower, you can be certain you’re getting the full spectrum of cannabinoids and whole plant nutrients because it hasn’t been processed to remove anything. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch out for quality.

Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means it leeches impurities from the soil around it. If your hemp was grown around heavy metals, pesticides, or other contaminants, they will certainly be in your hemp and in you if you ingest it. Always vet your hemp product and make sure that it comes with a certificate of analysis (COA) that is performed by a third-party lab. It is important to know that your hemp CBD is safe.

Bud and hemp flower hybrids

Some people like to use hemp flower to mellow out the psychoactive effects of their weed. One of the effects of CBD is that it moderates THC; CBD will actually block THC from attaching to receptors, proving that nature is a fan of checks and balances.

CBD Buds

A Legal Alternative to Weed (with a Caveat)

Another reason hemp flower is so popular is that it is a legal alternative to weed. For those who have smoked marijuana for a long time, and for whatever reason they can’t anymore, CBD flower can be the next best thing. Some might argue even better.

However, even though hemp flower is legal, it is possible you may not pass a drug test if you smoke or vape it. And here’s why …

Will I Pass a Drug Test After Smoking Hemp Flower?

Drug tests are not looking for CBD, so it will generally not trigger a positive. However, it is possible to fail a drug test with any CBD product, even isolate. As we’ve discussed, all hemp flower is full spectrum—it’s got a whole variety of cannabinoids in it with varying amounts according to the strain.

We also know that the law only allows .3 % or less THC in hemp flower. Drug tests look for a threshold of THC. If you smoke or ingest a lot of hemp CBD within a certain period of time, your THC level could go above that threshold even though you are not getting intoxicated.

Another thing to consider is this: Remember how we explained decarboxylation earlier? THCA converts to THC once it is heated. Some hemp flower does not include on its COA the amount of THCA combined with the delta-9 THC amount. This means there’s going to be more THC in your hemp flower when it’s smoked than when it’s in herb form. Either way, the amount is not enough to get you high, but if you smoke enough of it in a day, it could stand up and be counted present on a drug test.

Hemp Farming

Hemp Flower Takeaway

For those of you who would like to take in your CBD the old-fashioned way, hemp flower can be your legal alternative to cannabis. If you’re new to CBD it may be an enjoyable organic experience for you. If you’re concerned about smoking it, you can skip the risk to your lungs by vaping it. For whatever reason, whatever CBD form you choose … you’ve got choices. Hemp flower is another wonderful way to get CBD into your life