Pros and Cons of CBD Flower – Ask an Industry Expert

Close up view of a hemp flower cola with beautiful purple and green leaves.

Smokable CBD flower may be touted by sellers as an excellent CBD option for anyone. But what are the pros and cons? Who might it work for, and why? 

CBD flower can be a great option for CBD users looking for a fast-acting and wholesome option, as CBD flower is often very carefully grown. However, CBD flower may also be a problematic choice, as it might risk trouble with law enforcement or put a little too much of your health at risk. 

Looking to learn more? In this article, we break down the pros and cons of CBD flower, as well as offer a few ways to skirt around those negatives. 

Pros of CBD flower

CBD flower has a lot to offer to consumers as a product and delivery method, including: 

High bioavailability

For consumers who want the most CBD-potent hit they can get, smoking CBD flower is an excellent option. This method of delivery has incredibly high bioavailability or the measure of how effectively a substance is absorbed into your body. In fact, inhaled substances are almost the most effective, second only to intravenous injection. 

Thank the lungs for this one: their vital connection to your bloodstream, in addition to their permeability, allows inhaled substances to pass right through with little-to-none of that metabolic processing that can impact effectiveness. Contrast this with CBD edibles, which often undergo multiple passes through in-body processing that leave a good deal of CBD on the cutting room floor. Furthermore, the tiny size of the particles in CBD smoke makes it extra easy to absorb. 

High bioavailability makes smoking CBD flower a great option for anyone who needs a very effective, high-powered CBD option, such as individuals who use CBD to manage health issues, individuals who have begun to develop a tolerance or anyone who feels frustrated by CBD edibles not working as well for them as they might have hoped. 

Extremely fast onset

In addition to being incredibly potent, smokable CBD flower’s high bioavailability also means that it’s fast-acting. The same principles apply here — CBD is delivered directly to the bloodstream with less of those time-consuming internal processes (namely digestion). 

This is a huge benefit for some CBD users. It can take a great deal of time for CBD to enter the bloodstream when consumed orally, which can leave edible users waiting for the effects to kick in for up to two hours. Having to carve out a chunk of time as a buffer for when your edible sets in can be frustrating enough for many users, but it can be potentially debilitating for CBD users who are looking to treat fast-onset health issues, like anxiety or chronic pain. Furthermore, for users who use CBD to manage their sleep, smokable CBD flower can limit the amount of prior planning required before bedtime every night. 

Endless varieties to choose from

Similar to marijuana, hemp enjoys a stunning variety of plant options due to its high number of cultivars who are focused on creating the best taste and smoking experience. 

As opposed to other types of hemp products, buyers of CBD flower will find themselves faced with plants with distinctly different flavor profiles and compound levels. Smokable CBD flower is often grown inside, just like many strains of hemp or marijuana, but because it is smoked in a way where the quality of the growing conditions will be so evident in the way the flower tastes and smokes, special attention is paid by the grower in maintaining high-quality crops.

Additionally, these plants are grown from specific strains that have been crafted by growers for generations of plants for specific qualities. Unlike your average tincture or edible, which will simply name the dosage and artificial flavor that’s been added in production, CBD flower will be sold with the strain in the name and an explanation of its relative compound levels. The company may even offer a CoA, which can explain to you exactly how much CBD, THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids are present within the bud. 

Furthermore, smokable CBD flower has the added benefit of using the absolute best parts of the plant, which are often hand-trimmed and carefully processed by growers in order to ensure the smoker’s enjoyment. In fact, the gorgeous flower of the cannabis plant is picked, processed, and cured for a smooth smoke when you are purchasing smokable CBD flower. 

By contrast, CBD harvested for vapes and other lower-quality extraction methods come from biomass and other agricultural waste in the hemp industry. While these parts can still make a potent mixture with all of the miraculous benefits from CBD, the contrast in terms of user experience is impossibly vast. 

The counter of a cannabis dispensary with 5 different jars filled with different strains. From left to right the strains are: Shark Shock, Sour OG, Cracker Jack, Sour Diesel, Harlequin

Enjoy smoking cannabis without getting high

The soothing, almost ritualistic nature of smoking cannabis can be an incredibly calming, enjoyable process with numerous health benefits — there’s a good reason it’s remained a commonly smoked herb across cultures for centuries. However, sometimes it just isn’t practical to get high. Ignoring the fact that cannabis with high levels of THC is still federally controlled, some individuals may react poorly to high levels of THC, or may simply not enjoy being high. 

CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it cannot induce a high (in fact, it has been demonstrated to reduce some of the more distressing aspects of being high on THC). While CBD flower, which is hemp-derived, does contain trace amounts of THC, it is legally well under the limit of THC content to get you anything close to intoxicated. 

Maybe you’re finding yourself in a situation where you’re surrounded by others smoking marijuana, and would like to engage in the social aspect without being high. Smokable CBD flower is great for this — it can be smoked in a bowl, a water pipe, or in a joint or pre-roll. This way, you get to share in the experience without being under the influence. 

Fortunately for the high-averse smoker, smoking CBD can offer you many of the great benefits of smoking marijuana. Not only does it induce the mood-boosting and calming properties of some strains of marijuana, but it also offers many pain-reducing effects, too. Furthermore, it can offer these benefits with the same sort of potency as marijuana due to a phenomenon called the entourage effect. 

Harness the full potential of the entourage effect

The entourage effect is a term used to describe the synergistic effect of using multiple compounds found in cannabis at once. It can boost almost every positive effect attributed to the plant and its variants, which is great news for users of CBD flower since it is always full-spectrum.

Here, you get the compounds that make the entourage effect happen available to you in their most natural form, with no chemical extracting or dangerous additives. With smokable CBD flower, absolutely nothing is left out. Enjoy benefits like improved sleep, better pain management, more thorough stress-relief, and better management of symptoms like nausea and anxiety

Cons of CBD flower

However, like any particular way to use CBD, smokable flower may have some downsides that other delivery methods might not have. These include:

Smoking, in general, isn’t that healthy

While smoking CBD might not be as explicitly deadly as smoking cigarettes, which are often laced with toxins and highly carcinogenic compounds, smoking any material can be harmful to lung health

The research on marijuana’s link to the diseases endemic to cigarette smokers, such as lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and lowered immune system, have not generally shown that cannabis causes these issues in big ways. However, the research has shown some evidence that cannabis smokers suffer from other lung issues, such as increased rates of severe bronchitis, and increased coughs, chest pain, and overproduction of phlegm. Additionally, there are still some carcinogenic materials in cannabis that may be a risk factor if you’re smoking and inhaling it. 

Short and sweet: while smoking cigarettes might be deadly and smoking hemp is only illness-inducing over a long period of use, it’s still potentially a risky idea to inhale the smoke from burnt matter on a very regular basis. 

Can contain pesticides and other harmful chemicals

Unfortunately, hemp cultivation’s youth as an industry, in addition to little FDA overhead, can lead to health problems for consumers, including contaminated crops and untested products. 

Hemp is a plant that undergoes a process called phytoaccumulation, which is the tendency for plants to extract heavy metals and other contaminants from the ground. In fact, cannabis has been documented as being a hyperaccumulator, which simply means that it can absorb incredibly high volumes of those toxins and hold them in its leaves. This is a huge benefit for environmental scientists and agricultural scientists who are looking for natural and low-cost ways to remove pollutants from the ground. However, it is a health hazard for individuals who buy cannabis products to consume. 

Across all CBD products in the industry, a golden rule is to always seek out sellers that are trusted, well-established, reputable, and willingly transparent about their cultivation, extraction, and testing processes. It’s always good news if you can find clear contact info, details about their process as a company, or even details about how or where their products are farmed. 

Furthermore, try to buy from brands that will offer their Certificates of Analysis (or CoAs) either before sale or upon request. A CoA is an incredibly valuable document for CBD consumers, as it details the results of third-party lab testing that indicates levels of CBD, THC, terpenes, and various toxins and heavy metals that may accumulate in the plant. While there are certainly some reputable brands out there without CoAs, there are also shady sellers who prey on the ignorance of uninformed consumers in a new market. 

May run into problems with uneducated law enforcement

One big benefit of smokable CBD over other forms of cannabis is their legal status — federally legal, with some minor caveats at the state level. However, this technical legal status might mean nothing to your average law enforcement official. 

While plenty of lines are drawn in the sand — many of which are meaningful and important, like the THC content in hemp flower — at the end of the day, hemp is still cannabis, and an incredibly close relative to marijuana at that (it’s worth pointing out that “hemp” and “weed” are merely consumer designations, and they’re not even different species). The result? Well, your totally legal smokable CBD flower will look and smell a whole lot like illegal marijuana, especially since the consumption methods are nearly identical. To make matters worse, the average field test for a police officer or TSA agent will probably not make this distinction, or at least not yet, since CBD was only legalized in 2018. 

To keep yourself safe, consider smoking your CBD at home or in an otherwise private setting to avoid scrutiny. Consider requesting a CoA from your supplier, as this may add some credibility to the idea that you have a legal substance on your hands. Keep this on hand when traveling, especially if you’re flying

Man with his hands behind his back being arrested by a police officer.

Can potentially lead to a failed drug test for THC

Another risk to potentially consider is not simply the risk of having your CBD flower mistaken for weed, but also coming up positive on a drug test that tests for THC. While it’s not especially likely to occur, it’s still a possibility that’s important to keep in mind if you have the potential to be tested for drugs at some point while using CBD. 

Let’s get one thing straight first: using CBD products will almost never cause you to fail a drug test for having high levels of CBD in your body, no matter how much you use. It sounds contradictory, but it’s true if only for the reason that it’s basically a guarantee no drug tests you’ll encounter will even test for CBD. It’s not included on any standard multi-panel drug test, and furthermore, no one would really have any cause to test for it. It’s a federally legal non-psychoactive substance with properties that would generally only benefit you in workplace situations. 

However, it’s not really the CBD that’s likely to cause a problem — in fact, you may be surprised to find that it can still be possible to fail a drug test that’s testing for marijuana use, even if you’ve never touched the stuff in your life.

This can be for one of two reasons, the first of which being that you’re using a THC-laden CBD product a little too frequently. While you may still be consuming well under the legal limit and the detectable amount for THC, THC, unfortunately, sticks in the body in small amounts due to its fat-soluble nature. Since the THC is expelled more slowly than it is absorbed, the THC can compound over time and indicate a level of THC in your body that doesn’t correspond to the actual dose of THC that exists in your bottle. 

The second reason, however, is a little more worrisome: you might have bought a CBD product that either claimed to be THC-free and was lying, or you might have purchased a CBD product with way more THC than advertised, which might fall above the 0.3% legal limit.

The good news is that there are ways to avoid this if you’re cognizant of an upcoming drug test. Additionally, taking tolerance breaks if you opt to use a THC-rich product can work wonders to avoid that compounding effect and flush it out from your system. Finally, it should be a rule of thumb to look for transparent and high-quality CBD companies that clearly and forthrightly offer up CoAs to customers before you even buy. 

In the case of buying CBD flower, it may be helpful to simply look at the company you’re purchasing from and try to find the CoA for whatever strain or batch you bought. That way, you can be certain it was bred and cultivated with the legal limit in mind. 

Again, it’s important to reiterate that this scenario is not particularly likely. After all, most legal hemp and CBD products abide by the federal guidelines or stricter state ones, and it’s even still unlikely for you to tip off a drug test if you use low-dose THC and CBD products every day. However, it’s important to be aware of, especially if you work in a field that requires frequent drug testing. 

Takeaway

When considering whether or not to try a new method of CBD delivery, it’s important to consider both the positives and the negatives, and their relative caveats or workarounds. It’s critical to always put your health first when it comes to products like these ones and opt for a trust-worthy or transparent seller. 

Looking to buy some smokable CBD flower from vendors who care about your health? Consider browsing CBD Facilitator’s directory of hemp flower products. We offer you reviews and analyses of several different products from popular brands so you can make a more informed decision while purchasing your flowers, pre-rolls, or cigarettes.

Josh Murdoch

Josh Murdoch

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although it is incurable, CBD and THC have been allowing me to live my life as a healthy adult now for years. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my career to spreading the good news about cannabinoids. Currently, I work for a vertically integrated cannabis company called Unrivaled Brands that operates in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Previously, I worked on two cannabis farms in northern California, one of which was located in the famous Humboldt County. I’ve also managed a medical cannabis delivery service in Marin County, California. I created CBD Facilitator to share what I’ve learned, and to recommend the best products that I have found in this chaotic market.

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Our goal is to educate you on all things CBD, enabling you to navigate this vast unregulated industry like a pro. We know all too well how overwhelming it can be to find trustworthy brands in this crowded market, so we’re here to help!

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