Does CBD Smell Like Weed?

With the advent of an ever-expanding CBD market, many people want to try their first weed product but are worried about its potential smell. Newcomers to cannabis, especially those concerned with discretion, will often ask, “Does CBD smell like weed?”

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The answer is a little more complicated than a straightforward yes or no. CBD, and other cannabinoids, actually have zero odor – the signature weed smell that comes from smoking or vaping flower has to do with the terpenes in a certain strain. 

Terpenes are the aromatic chemicals that are to thank for weed’s many smells, ranging from citrus-like to gassy to akin to skunk. So while pure CBD products don’t have an odor, if you smell something, it’s likely due to the presence of terpenes.

Read on to understand why different types of CBD products may or may not smell like weed, what else they might smell like, and why terpenes are such an important part of cannabis’ aromatic experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cannabinoids like CBD don’t have a scent or flavor on their own.
  • Terpenes are the aromatic chemicals responsible for weed and hemp’s smells and are found in all plants. 
  • Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products have a mild weed smell based on the source strain, but CBD isolate is odorless. 

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, called CBD, is one of two primary cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, surpassed in abundance only by THC, the psychoactive chemical responsible for weed’s high. Unlike THC, CBD produces zero intoxication, instead affecting the mind and body with an ability to soothe nervousness, treat inflammation, and overall improve physical and mental wellness.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is federally legal if it’s sourced from legal hemp plants, where both the plant and final product contain less than 0.3% THC per dry weight. Since 2018, manufacturers have created various CBD-based products, such as vapes, gummies, capsules, edibles, and topicals. There are also several different categories of CBD products, which we’ll explore in more detail.

Full-spectrum

Full-spectrum CBD products contain the full spectrum of chemical compounds from hemp plants, including trace amounts of THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. Full-spectrum CBD products can also be sourced from cannabis plants, but these products are only legal in states with marijuana regulations.

This type of CBD is extracted from hemp or cannabis plants and blended with a carrier oil – often coconut or MCT oil – and experiences no further processing. As such, the entourage effect of the ensemble of CBD, trace THC, and other compounds is thought to provide better health benefits than isolated CBD products. 

The terpenes play a key role here: depending on how many terpenes are present and the strain from which your CBD is extracted, your product will likely have a mild weedy smell. However, it all depends on the product’s formulation, as some manufacturers will blend their products with menthol, peppermint, or other pleasant-smelling natural compounds to disguise the weed scent. 

Broad-spectrum

Broad-spectrum CBD products are similar to full-spectrum, except the extracted oil is refined to completely remove any traces of THC but retain other compounds from the original plant. 

These products still contain the benefits of the entourage effect but subtract THC from the equation, which may be preferable to some users. However, the presence of terpenes will, again, make broad-spectrum CBD products have a weed smell based on the strain of the original source material. 

CBD isolate

Isolate is the purest form of CBD, free from other traces of cannabis compounds and extracted from the hemp plant. For those seeking to use only CBD and avoid other potential cannabinoids, this powdered form of CBD may be the best bet, though users will miss out on the entourage effect.

Without the presence of terpenes, however, CBD isolate has no odor and will not smell like weed when consumed.

What Are Terpenes? 

We’ve mentioned them many times thus far, but terpenes are aromatic chemicals found in plants and some animals. Essential oils contain high quantities of terpenes, which give them their signature scent and impact their aromatherapy effects.

Terpenes are largely responsible for shaping the sensory experience (flavor and smell) and the high of a particular cannabis strain. The terpene limonene, as an example, has energizing effects and is often found in citrus fruit. Myrcene, another common terpene in cannabis, is found most often in mangos and produces more soothing, relaxing results. 

Researchers have so far found dozens of terpenes in the cannabis plant, which work independently or in concert with one another to produce unique effects in consumers.

Does CBD Smell Like THC Weed?

So to answer the question, does CBD smell like weed? It can, but not always: it depends on the type of CBD product in question. 

If you’re smoking hemp or high-CBD cannabis, it will most certainly have a weedy smell due to terpenes. Similarly, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products will have a weed-like aroma, though these may be masked depending on the manufacturer. CBD isolate, as pure CBD, is odorless.

The Bottom Line

CBD products will likely not have quite as strong a scent as typical marijuana products but will still carry a similar odor if terpenes are present. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD retain terpenes in the extraction process, which will yield a similar smell to the original strain from which the CBD oil was made. However, pure CBD isolate has no aroma and may be best for those with sensitive noses or who want to avoid a weedy smell.

If you’re looking to browse different types of CBD products, aromatic or otherwise, check out EVN’s selection of CBD capsules, gummies, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How strong is the smell of CBD?

CBD’s odor depends on the type and the source material from which it was created. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products will have a milder aroma than CBD flowers but will still smell like traditional weed.

Does CBD flower smell?

Yes, high-CBD or hemp CBD flower carries terpene concentrates in its resin. Depending on the strain, CBD flower will smell citrusy, gassy, skunky, or have one of the hundreds of other complex aromas for which each weed strain is known.

Does CBD Smell Like Weed When Smoking?

Yes, CBD will most-likely smell like weed if you're smoking it.

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