CBD: Is There a Difference Between Synthetic and Natural?

13th November 2020

Prohibition Partners will hold the world’s largest virtual cannabis event next week. Global leaders will discuss various issues surrounding the drug’s situation in 2020 and provide an insight into future legislation. The four-day conference features several online sessions on topics, such as synthetic and natural CBD.

Prohibition Partners Live is a great opportunity to connect with thousands of industry leaders and pioneers. Hurry! While there are only a few tickets left, Canex readers will be able to book a place by clicking on this link here.

The difference between synthetic and natural CBD

Natural CBD, in the first place, is one of the most common chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is classed as a cannabinoid, along with THC and CBN, and over a hundred other compounds in the plant. However, compared to THC, it’s not psychoactive.

CBD is a naturally occurring chemical known for its supposed health and wellness benefits. Among its reported benefits is its ability to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to ease the symptoms of spasticity-related conditions and diseases.

However, CBD can also be produced through chemical and bio-synthetic methods, such as using yeast.

Many people are now questioning whether there are differences between the two forms of CBD in terms of efficacy and safety, consumer preference, cost-effectiveness, and legality.

Effectiveness & Safety

In the past, laboratories of synthetic CBD manufacturers, as well as the National Institute of Drug Abuse, have reported that the synthetic CBD they tested was chemically identical to natural CBD.

It means they should yield the same health and mood benefits, with the same safety profile.

Supporting this, researchers at the University of Freiburg have determined synthetic CBD to have similar safety and efficacy in treating epilepsy as natural CBD.

Contrasting this, many would argue that the extra chemicals present in hemp plants support the effects of ingested CBD in the entourage effect, and studies have found evidence both for and against the idea.


Hemp benefits from ease of growth and all of the modern agricultural and extraction techniques and infrastructure.

Synthesizing CBD in the lab has the benefits of easily producing a precise and pure product, and may require less costly inputs of resources such as land and water and time between harvests.

Previous deals for the supply of synthetic CBD have priced the chemical at five times lower than that of the going rate for natural CBD.

The wholesale CBD market is currently extremely competitive. The price for various CBD wholesale products such as crude hemp oil and CBD isolate reduced by more than 80% year on year to May of 2020, according to Hemp Benchmarks.

Patient Preference

Researchers in Germany have found that almost three-quarters of epilepsy patients prefer to take natural CBD, citing reasons such as “lack of chemicals” and “better tolerance”.

The image of CBD as a holistic and natural therapeutic may mean that natural CBD products are the only ones that will eventually make for a profitable and sustainable industry.


In general, synthetic CBD benefits from being under less strict control than natural CBD.

Natural CBD is controlled under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Substances under schedule 1 as well as regulations at other levels, such as in the EU and US and within individual states.

Synthetic CBD is not subject to international control as a narcotic, as it is not specifically mentioned by the UN Single Convention, which refers only to substances derived from “the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant”.

At the upcoming Prohibition Partners Live conference, Lorenza Romanese of the European Industrial Hemp Association, Barbara Pastori of Prohibition Partners, and Ulla Haaning Singapuri of KannaSwiss AG will hold an in-depth discussion of this topic.

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