By Jacob Maslow–Branded Content

CBD comes from the hemp plant, a close cousin to marijuana. It has long been known to have healing and calming properties. For example, it can help support a healthy sleep cycle, help with muscle pain caused by exercise-induced inflammation, and support good mental health. 

When deciding between full-spectrum CBD products or broad-spectrum CBD products, you might be struck at how similar they seem to be. They sure sound similar, and both share many of the same characteristics. But in reality, the one major difference between them — the presence of THC — represents a vast gulf between the two. 

Full-spectrum CBD 

Full-spectrum CBD products are the closest to the hemp plant that you can buy. It is either distilled or extracted directly from the hemp plant and mixed with or added to whatever media the product calls for, like a carrier oil. This process leaves the hemp extract with all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids intact, including a legal amount of THC. 

Many people consider THC controversial because of its association with marijuana. Indeed, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most talked-about compound in cannabis because it is the component that makes people feel “high.” But that’s not its role in CBD gummies. Instead, its role in CBD gummies is to help the CBD work better.

This is called the “entourage effect.” CBD works better and more efficiently when its companion compounds, including THC, surround it. So, just like it can be fun to hit the club by yourself to meet new people, it’s more fun if you roll into the club with your crew. 

THC appears in hemp extract in tiny quantities. This is demanded by law, specifically the 2018 Farm Bill that mandated that hemp may not exceed 0.3 percent THC by weight.

The hemp flower and full-spectrum CBD products can include the following cannabinoids, depending on the strain of hemp and how it is processed:

  • THCa — Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
  • Δ8 THC — delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Δ9 THC — delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • THCV — Tetrahydrocannabivarin
  • CBDa — Cannabidiolic acid
  • CBD — Cannabidiol
  • CBDV — Cannabidivarin
  • CBN — Cannabinol
  • CBC — Cannabichromene
  • CBGa — Cannabigerolic acid
  • CBG — Cannabigerol

That’s a genuine smorgasbord of compounds that work together toward your wellness.


Broad-spectrum CBD products have all of the above-listed cannabinoids except THC. Some production methods start with full-spectrum CBD and remove the THC content. Others start with a CBD isolate in crystalline form and add back the various cannabinoids except for THC. Either way, the hemp extract is denatured and no longer “close to the plant.” It has been tinkered with. Removing the THC means that the entourage effect will not be as effective.

Why remove the THC? There are a few possible reasons, but the most important one is that THC can show up in drug tests. Many drug tests that test for marijuana test for THC in your urine. 

Some people have jobs where regular drug tests are given or are given as a requirement for hiring. Other people see pain management specialists who often perform drug tests to ensure their patients aren’t abusing the drugs they’re being given or self-medicating with other medications. Athletes, even student-athletes, often have to pass drug tests. 

And some people are still struck by “Reefer Madness” or were brainwashed by the “War on Drugs” and see THC as a dangerous precursor to harder drugs. In addition, marijuana was long considered a “gateway drug” to justify its prohibition. Therefore, these people still think that THC is harmful. All of this while recreational marijuana is increasingly becoming legal state-by-state, and about 85 percent of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana.

Now you understand why many people skip right over the broad spectrum section in their health food store and head straight to the CBD and THC infused gummies and why others are stuck in the broad spectrum section. 

Photo Courtesy of Jacob Maslow//Cosmic Press