Cheef Botanicals

Hemp Buds: Everything You Need to Know

It definitely looks and smells like marijuana, but it’s actually hemp! So what’s the difference? Do people smoke hemp? Does hemp have buds like marijuana? There are so many questions. To understand both marijuana and hemp you need to know their differences.


Unlike marijuana, hemp will not impact your judgment and it’s 100% legal. Today, thanks to green thumbs and selective breeding, there are many different CBD-rich hemp strains to choose from, each with their own unique flavor, aroma, and cannabinoid profile. Let’s see why more and more people are using hemp!

What Is Hemp?

Many people think of marijuana when they hear the word “hemp.” Yes, they are both from the Cannabaceae family, but is hemp the same thing as marijuana? Not exactly, so let’s set the record straight.

To understand their main differences, it’s important to note that both of these cannabis varieties (hemp and marijuana) are full of beneficial compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the main factor when it comes to distinguishing hemp from marijuana.

Cannabinoids can be very important. They are the main active ingredients in cannabis that interact with our endocannabinoid systems (ECS). The ECS plays a very important role in our daily lives by regulating many bodily functions. Researchers estimate there are over 120 different cannabinoids in cannabis and many are exclusive to the plant family.

Each cannabinoid can offer different benefits and effects, and THC and CBD have become the famous. THC in particular is what separates hemp from marijuana. Let’s classify these world-renowned cannabinoids.


dumping hemp buds into hand


Tetrahydrocannabinol aka Delta-9-THC  is the chemical compound in cannabis that can lead to euphoric effects. Not much THC is needed (as little as 3mg) to induce these effects. Since THC can hinder one’s ability to perform everyday tasks like driving a car, some people prefer to avoid it. This is where CBD comes in.


This compound is closely related to THC, and even their molecular structures are similar. However, CBD produces clear-headed effects that don’t impact our motor functions. Users looking to get the benefits of cannabis without any kind of mental impairment are increasingly using CBD products. 

How is Hemp Different Than Marijuana?

Now let’s look at the different varieties of cannabis. Even though both have their benefits, hemp is federally legal while marijuana is not. Highlighting their differences will help you avoid marijuana, especially if it’s not legal in your state!


This type of cannabis has high CBD and low THC. In the technical literature, it is sometimes referred to as Cannabis sativa L. Hemp has largely been an industrial product for thousands of years. However, since the discovery of the ECS (1992), hemp has become the primary source of CBD. The amount of THC in hemp is not enough to produce euphoric effects. Furthermore, any CBD oil products made from hemp will not get you high.


This is the most famous cannabis variant (or infamous, depending on who you ask), with high levels of THC and varying levels of CBD. The amount of CBD in marijuana buds depends on the strain. For example, Cannabis sativa has very low levels of CBD with high levels of THC while the opposite is true for Cannabis indica

Legalities of Hemp & Marijuana

The 2018 Farm Bill (formally known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) has technically defined hemp as any part of the cannabis plant, along with any products derived from it, with a THC concentration less than 0.3%. The passing of this federal law makes hemp legal in all 50 states. Consequently, any cannabis plant with THC amounts above 0.3% is marijuana which is federally illegal. 

What Are Buds?

To understand what buds are and how they grow all you need to do is look at the plant’s anatomy. The cannabis plant is made up of the following parts: 


These are the underground structure of the plant. The roots soak up nutrients and water for the plant to feed. They are also responsible for removing metabolic waste from the plant.


This is the long, skinny structure that holds up the plant. It takes nutrients from the roots and leaves and disburses it to the rest of the plant. The stem and roots hold the least cannabinoid content. 


These are little points on the stem from which branches extend out. On the cannabis plant, the nodes are where new branches separate from the stem. 

Leaves (Fan/Sugar)

These are the iconic 5-to-9 pointed leaves cannabis is known for. The leaves turn light (sunlight or artificial) into energy through a process known as photosynthesis. Fan leaves hold very little cannabinoids, but sugar leaves can actually hold a decent amount.

Flowers (Buds)

These occur on the ends of the nodes and are arguably the most important part of the plant. Male plants produce small pollen sacs that look like clusters of mini oblong peas while female plants produce large flowers that are covered in resin. This resin is rich with cannabinoids. These female flowers can be trimmed down to pointed or round buds. Buds are the part of the cannabis plant that is most often consumed. 

So you see, the buds are an absolutely crucial part of the plant. They are chock full of cannabinoids as well as terpenoids and flavonoids, all of which contribute to the various benefits of cannabis. Furthermore, these valuable female buds can occur in a cluster known as a cola. These colas can bunch together on lower branches, but the main cola (also known as the apical bud) forms at the top of the plant. Just think of it like a queen’s crown for the female cannabis plant, with the sticky resin full of cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids as the crown jewels! 


Healthy female plants mostly grow buds, but they also grow seeds. This can occur after pollination. However, farmers often breed female plants to not grow seeds by keeping them unpollinated by male hemp plants. The longer a female plant remains unpollinated, the more buds it can produce. Sometimes they’ll even grow larger buds, too!

Male plants also naturally produce flowers, just like female plants do. The main difference is that male plants are mainly composed of seeds and grow very little bud.

Does Hemp Have Buds?

So, does hemp have buds? Absolutely! Remember, hemp and marijuana have the same anatomy and structures. The real difference between the two is the chemical makeup of the resin found in the bud. People may also refer to cannabis flowers as:

  • Hemp flowers
  • CBD flowers
  • CBD buds

hemp buds manufacturing shot cheef

Hemp Buds vs. Marijuana Buds

Hemp buds and marijuana buds have a lot in common, especially their physical appearance. Because of this, it can often be tricky to differentiate the two at first glance.

One foolproof method to tell them apart is to have a lab test the flower. This can help determine the flower’s THC content, though testing isn’t a realistic option for the average consumer. Fortunately, some subtleties may help you distinguish hemp flowers from marijuana!

Since hemp is often cultivated from more natural farms (rather than those that use chemicals or synthetic pesticides), hemp buds aren’t usually interfered with as much as marijuana buds are. Bear in mind that more natural products are almost always better for you than artificial ones are.

Keep reading to sharpen your eye for hemp and marijuana!

THC Content

As we mentioned above, THC content is a great way to tell hemp and recreational marijuana products apart. Hemp products contain 0.3% Delta 9 THC or less, while marijuana products contain above the 0.3% threshold.

When shopping for high-quality hemp flower, you’ll be able to find Certificates of Analysis (COAs) that can verify quality and potency for you. These certificates will also be able to confirm that your hemp product contains less than 0.3% D9 THC. Any products that contain more than 0.3% D9 THC are marijuana products and aren’t federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Bud Size

Bud sizes generally vary for both kinds of cannabis plants. Natural hemp buds can be bigger or smaller than naturally-grown marijuana. Typically, though, marijuana is grown indoors.

Since marijuana farmers have a more controlled environment to grow in, they can often grow marijuana buds to larger sizes. This means if you have an especially large bud, it is fair to assume it’s either a female hemp flower or a marijuana bud.

Bud Density

Like bud size, bud density can vary, too. In nature, hemp buds are often denser or fluffier than marijuana buds. Farmers often cultivate marijuana with denser buds in more monitored environments than hemp. So if you’ve got a dense bud, it might be marijuana.


Trichome coverage widely varies in nature as well! Trichomes have many functions and often work as plant protection against bugs and other organisms. They give a plant that “frosty” look.

In hemp and marijuana, trichomes produce cannabinoids. They also produce many other compounds like flavonoids (which affect a plant’s color) and terpenes (these influence taste and smell). The differences in trichomes are a big reason why there are so many different strains to enjoy!

Hemp buds naturally have fewer trichomes than marijuana. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a frostier bud is marijuana. Hemp may not have as many trichomes as marijuana, but it has more capitate-stalked trichomes that expand to produce CBD. These capitate-stalked trichomes are thicker and more visible to the naked eye than other types of trichomes, making hemp look frostier than marijuana.

Bud Aroma

Depending on the strain, hemp buds can be more or less aromatic than marijuana buds. When grown in more controlled environments, marijuana strains have more terpenes and resin than hemp.

Terpenes are compounds responsible for the aromas and tastes of all plants. Resin is a sticky and concentrated brown substance responsible for many of the invigorating effects of marijuana.

Can You Smoke Hemp?

Ok, we know hemp is related to marijuana but does it smoke like marijuana? As a matter of fact, it does! You can actually spark up and get all the benefits of the cannabis plant without any grogginess. So it’s no surprise that this method of CBD consumption is gaining popularity.

Today hemp is the driving force of the booming CBD market and hemp buds are definitely riding the wave. In fact, Jonathan Miller of U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a lobbying group for the hemp industry, has stated that smokeable hemp is the CBD product that is “growing most rapidly”. 

So how can you smoke hemp? Well, first of all, you should stick to smoking just the flower because the rest of the plant holds only minuscule cannabinoids and its smoke is undesirable. To smoke premium CBD flowers/buds you can use any of the following methods: 

  • Water Pipes: bongs, bubblers, hookahs 
  • Pre-Rolls/Joints: flower rolled into a smokable form, usually with a filter
  • Pipes: hand pipes, steamrollers, one-hitters
  • Vaporizers: vapes often heat up distillate, but you can also vaporize dried CBD buds (make sure your vaporizer is capable of this before attempting)

Some of these methods result in a smoother smoking experience than others. For example, using a bong is generally considered to be easier on the throat and lungs because the smoke gets filtered through water before it’s inhaled. Vaporizers offer a smoother experience as well. They reduce harshness by heating the flower just enough to vaporize cannabinoids and terpenes. So they avoid burning the plant material which results in a smoother hit than smoking.

Can Hemp Buds Get You High?

Hemp products should not get you high. Instead, hemp buds will provide you with a calming and soothing experience. This is because hemp buds have very high CBD and low THC content.

What Does It Feel Like To Smoke Hemp?

Smoking hemp is a relaxing experience. People who smoke hemp often describe feeling:

  • An increase in relaxation and boost in mood
  • Improved ability to concentrate or focus
  • Relief from aches and general soreness
  • The ability to have more restful, deep nights of sleep
  • Improvement in their hunger and appetite
  • A decrease in nervousness or worried thoughts

Since smoking has such a quick onset time, you’ll be able to experience these effects whenever you want or need them. This onset time is usually immediate or within 30-90 seconds after inhalation.

Why Do People Use Hemp Buds?

People enjoy hemp flower for countless reasons. With so many different forms of CBD available, below are some common reasons why people choose hemp buds.

They’re Rich in CBD

More and more people are turning to CBD in order to get all the benefits of cannabis without any intoxication. CBD has subtle effects on mood and perception, including a sense of relaxation or an improvement in mood

There Are Other Beneficial Compounds

THC and CBD are not the only cannabinoids; as stated earlier, current research has estimated that there are approximately 120 of these compounds in the cannabis plant. Additionally, there is a whole host of terpenoids and flavonoids, many of which have beneficial effects.

Full-Spectrum (Synergistic Effects)

One of the more fascinating aspects of the cannabis plant is that it is most effective when all of its compounds are taken together. This “synergistic effect” (also known as the entourage effect) refers to cannabis’s elements working together which increases the power of its overall effects. For example, CBD products that are full-spectrum are generally considered to be more effective than isolate products. Full-spectrum means that the product contains the whole spectrum of cannabis’s cannabinoids (with less than 0.3% of THC). 

smelling hemp flower from glass jar

What Else Can Hemp Buds Do?

Did you know that besides smoking hemp buds they can be processed to extract CBD and other cannabinoids? Hemp buds are the richest source of cannabinoids and they are used to make many CBD applications including:


When you apply a CBD topical to your skin it will quickly interact with cannabinoid receptors (CB2) spread throughout your dermis. Many people use CBD topicals to improve workout recovery, nourish the skin, and relieve minor soreness or tension. Common CBD topicals include lotions, ointments, salves, balms, bath bombs, and CBD lip balms. 


You can take a CBD tincture and drop it directly under your tongue. This method of administration is second only to smoking in terms of how quickly the effects are felt. This is because the mucous membranes under your tongue are highly permeable, allowing the CBD concentrate to be quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. 


Cannabinoids found in the hemp plant need to be activated via a heating process known as decarboxylation. If you directly eat the buds off a cannabis plant, you won’t really get many of the effects. However, cannabinoids are heated up when they are infused into edibles, the decarboxylation occurs and the activated forms of the cannabinoids are ready to be absorbed. CBD gummies, cookies, and lollypops are among the most popular types of hemp edibles.

There are also CBD vape juices, CBD infused drinks, and much more. You can try different applications and see which ones best suit you. The great thing about the variety is that it allows you to switch it up so you’re not taking CBD the same way all the time. Many people thoroughly enjoy smoking CBD buds, you may too?  Remember, you won’t get high from them, but you will get all the other beneficial properties of cannabis. 


Hemp buds are also processed to make potent CBD concentrates. Reputable companies like Cheef use a solvent-free CO2 extraction process to cleanly pull CBD from hemp. Each kind of concentrate is made slightly differently and has its own unique CO2 extraction process. That’s why different kinds vary in color and consistency!

Here are a few kinds of concentrate that come from hemp:

  • Distillate: This concentrate is tasteless and odorless and is often used as a base for other products.
  • Wax: Similar to candle wax in consistency, this concentrate has a yellow hue and can be easily manipulated.
  • Isolate: This is the purest form of concentrate! It’s a fine white powder and only contains CBD.
  • Shatter: Amber and brittle, this concentrate is translucent and often has holes resembling Swiss cheese.


Did you know that hemp drinks are a thing, too? CBD-infused drinks are a great way to enjoy your favorite cannabinoid. Microscopic droplets of CBD oil are formulated using nanotechnology.

These droplets are more soluble in beverages than regular droplets of CBD oil. Seltzers, juices, soda, and more are infused with the droplets to create a soothing, thirst-quenching experience.

Flower Strains

  • Hawaiian haze
  • Lifter
  • Source Space Candy
  • Sour Diesel
  • Durban Diesel
  • Purple Gas
  • Special Sauce
  • Wagyu Kush
  • Skywalker OG
  • OG Kush
  • Golden Source
  • Ceiba Fox
  • Suzy Q
  • Bubba Kush

Final Thoughts – Hemp Buds

Hemp buds are one of the most versatile parts of the hemp plant. They can be formulated into a wide variety of hemp CBD products, which is only one of the reasons so many people love consuming them. Want to learn more about hemp and CBD? Check out our Blog to read more!