CBD flowers have a strong and distinctive smell that varies depending on the strain. The fragrances are provided by the plant's terpenes, compounds that are found throughout nature and produce a variety of complex aromas.
If you're not familiar with the hemp plant, these smells can be hard to describe, but we're going to do our best to do so in this guide.
Does CBD Hemp Flower Smell Like Weed?
A CBD hemp flower is basically just cannabis without the THC. It comes from the same plant and contains many of the same compounds. Even the most experienced users would have a hard time differentiating between the two.
This causes problems if you live in an area where hemp is legal, but cannabis is not, as is the case for most of the United States following the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. It's easy for law enforcement, roommates, and neighbors to mistake hemp for cannabis and it's not easy to prove otherwise.
Many CBD retailers actually provide law enforcement letters designed specifically for this purpose.
What Compounds Impact the Smell of Hemp?
The biggest difference between legal hemp and regulated cannabis is the cannabinoid profile, with one containing only trace amounts of THC and the other containing up to 30% of this compound.
Cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabigerol (CBG) don't impart any flavors into the plant. Despite this, they are the main differentiators between hemp and cannabis.
The flavors come from compounds known as terpenes, the most common of which include Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Pinene, Limonene, and Linalool. The concentrations of these compounds, and the way they combine, is what creates the unique flavors of hemp and cannabis.
Pinene, for instance, is found in pine needles and has a very woody, skunky fragrance, while Limonene is highly concentrated in lemon and has sharp citrus flavors. Many of the plant's fruity flavors come from Myrcene, which is also found in mangoes.
Not only do these compounds produce the many unique smells and flavors associated with hemp, but they also provide many of its health benefits. They are thought to be anti-inflammatory and to possess powerful antioxidant properties. When combined, they also provide something known as the "entourage effect," whereby multiple parts work together to create a stronger whole.
Full-spectrum CBD products are often said to be better for you because they retain these compounds, while purer concentrates remove them and leave only the cannabinoids.
Do Hemp Flower Strains Smell the Same?
Every strain has its own unique aroma. Some have a very strong skunky smell, and others are sweeter and more citrusy. It simply depends on the terpene profile. You can usually find a description of the flavor profile alongside each CBD strain in every dispensary, just bear in mind that these flavors can be perceived differently from user to user.
In that sense, hemp buds are like a fine wine—the expert may talk about notes of oak, apple, pear, and cinnamon, but it all tastes like vinegar to some people.
The more experienced you are, the more likely you are to detect the differences in flavor.
What Does CBD Hemp Flower Look Like?
Whether you're smoking a low THC hemp flower or a potent cannabis nug, the flowers tend to look the same. There are differences from strain to strain, but you can't tell that a flower has high CBD or THC levels just by looking at it.
The flowers vary in size and color and often contain a coating of small crystalline hairs, known as "trichomes". These hairs provide the "frosty" aesthetic associated with hemp flowers and are also used to produce kief.
What Does CBD Hemp Flower Taste Like?
The taste of the plant will depend entirely on the terpene profile and the method of ingestion. Smoking hemp or cannabis in a pre-roll tends to deliver more of the earthier flavors, while the harshness of a pipe may overwhelm the subtler notes.
If you want a milder, sweeter smoke, try vaping instead. A vape tends to remove the harshness and the skunky flavors, leaving you with more of the sweeter notes. It's not for everyone, but it can make some stronger hemp strains more palatable for inexperienced users.