Most of the CBD market is dominated by CBD oils, concentrates, and vape liquids — but did you know you can also use the raw hemp flowers for the same effect?
Hemp flower is used in all the same ways as marijuana — you can smoke it, vape it, or eat it. All the active compounds from the hemp are absorbed through the lungs to relieve pain, improve sleep, ease anxiety, and much more.
Much like marijuana, there are a ton of different hemp strains to choose from — each one has a different flavor and effect profile from the next. It can be fun to try out new and interesting strains.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about buying and using CBD flower and provide a shortlist of the best CBD-rich hemp flower brands online in 2020.
It’s important you find a quality supplier of hemp flowers to avoid wasting your money on schwag flower — no matter how cheap it might be.
If you’re on a budget, check out Industrial Hemp Farms below — they sell some of the cheapest hemp gram for gram we’ve seen yet.
If you’re after something new and interesting, we highly recommend you have a look at the CBD Hemp Smoking Blends sold by The Brother’s Apothecary.
And if you consider yourself a connoisseur of hemp flower, we recommend you have a look at the top-shelf selection at Berkshire CBD.
Berkshire CBD specializes in making top-notch organic hemp flower for the American public. Everything offered on the company’s website was either grown on their New England farm, or by trusted friends in the hemp industry. Al products that leaves the farm have been thoroughly tested, visually inspected, and neatly prepared in attractive packaging.
In fact, the beautiful packaging is one of the reasons why we recommend this brand as the perfect gift for hemp-loving friends or family.
We maintain high standards for raw hemp flower and have little patience for flower that arrives too dry, leafy, or discolored. Smoking or vaping raw hemp should be an enjoyable experience with plenty of flavor and potency. We couldn’t find anything of substance to complain about in this regard when it comes to Berkshire CBD.
Depending on what effects or flavor profiles you prefer, there are plenty of excellent options on the Berkshire CBD website.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s some of our favorites:
The Brother’s Apothecary is a Portland-based company that places a strong emphasis on holistic full-spectrum hemp products. The company likes to add other herbs to its products to better direct the effects for a given application (such as adding lavender for sleep blends or skullcap for stress blends).
We love this holistic approach and find the company’s products easily rank among the best in their respective categories. This is also the case for the company’s raw herb lineup.
The Brother’s Apothecary offers three different types of raw hemp — a Kush hemp flower, CBG flower, and these CBD Hemp Smoking Blends.
Our favorite option here is the smoking blends but all The Brother’s Apothecary hemp flower options are top-notch.
The smoking blends are particularly noteworthy because they combine the effects of an organic hemp flower with other medicinal herbs. There are four different blends (outlined below), each with their own unique flavor and effect profile.
Our favorite is the Peace blend for helping with sleep, but we also really like the Relax option for the combination of herbs commonly used to induce vivid or lucid dreaming.
Here are the four blends available from The Brother’s Apothecary:
Kat’s Naturals doesn’t specialize in making CBD hemp flower, but does offer one of the most unique hemp flower products we’ve seen to date — they call it “Activated Hemp”.
While this product is made from raw hemp flower, it isn’t meant to be smoked or vaped. Instead, this flower comes pre-soaked in coconut oil to help preserve the chemical constituents inside, and to make it easier to eat — yes, this is edible hemp flower.
This hemp is specifically designed for culinary applications and comes pre-decarboxylated (activated). The decarboxylation process involves heating the flower to activate the cannabinoids. This step is done during the smoking or vaping process but is often missed when eating the flower unless you’re baking with it.
By decarboxylating the flower for you, it makes this product super easy to use right out of the bag. You can add it to smoothies, salads, or whatever else you want.
This is a unique and innovative form of hemp flower we haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s a great option for people who want the benefits of a holistic, full-spectrum, raw hemp flower — but don’t like the idea of having to smoke or vape it.
One downside to this product is that since it comes pre-soaked in coconut oil, this flower has been rendered unsmokable even if you wanted to.
If you’re looking for something to add to your dry herb vaporizer or roll into cones, this is not the product for you. However, if you prefer edible products, this edible hemp flower is definitely worth considering.
Industrial Hemp Farms is a large hemp farm and processing company. They do just about everything — from developing new seed genetics to cultivation, all the way through extraction and processing.
You can even buy artisanal CBD products from this company, such as CBD creams and pain rubs.
What this company is best known for is its raw hemp flower — which is available in three separate grades — top-shelf, mid-shelf, and bottom shelf.
The grading system is based on the potency, color, and flavor of the buds, as well as the presence of seeds. Only the nugs with the best appearance and highest CBD content are listed in the top-shelf section of the website.
This company produces so much hemp flowers on a yearly basis it’s easy for them to offer many different strain choices for each grade.
While the mid and low-grade hemp flowers are available at incredibly low prices — the value for the top-shelf hemp simply can’t be beaten. You’re only paying a little extra for the high-grade stuff but the quality and overall experience is hard to pass up on.
As with any CBD product, the more you buy at a time, the better the value.
Our favorite strains at the moment in the top-shelf category include:
Blue Ridge Hemp hails from North Carolina. They make a variety of CBD products including a lineup of the company’s own hemp flowers.
All the hemp produced by Blue Ridge Hemp contains below the legal limit of 0.3% THC by weight, and plenty of CBD (average is over 15%).
There are a lot of strains to choose from, and we haven’t tried a strain from this company we didn’t like.
Every nug you order is well-manicured, isn’t too dry, and offers the level of potency you’d expect from a high-grade hemp flower.
Have a look at the Blue Ridge Hemp flower lineup to see what stands out to you. The selection changes depending on what crops the company has available at the moment.
Our favorite options from Blue Ridge Hemp include:
Hemp and marijuana flowers look very similar — almost indistinguishable to the naked eye — but there’s a big difference between the two plants.
Both hemp and marijuana plants are the same species — Cannabis sativa.
Genetically, these two plants are virtually identical — the difference comes down to epigenetics (how those genes are expressed).
Both hemp and marijuana have the ability to manufacture the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — however, only marijuana plants make THC in significant amounts. This makes marijuana plants psychoactive, while hemp plants remain completely non-psychoactive.
Legally, in order for a cannabis plant to classify as hemp, it needs to contain less than 0.3% THC by dried weight. As per the 2018 Farm Bill, any Cannabis sativa plant with 0.3% THC or less is completely legal to grow, harvest, and possess. This is what the majority of CBD products on the market are made from.
If marijuana is used to make CBD oil, it’s considered a regulated substance, which is illegal on a federal level and only legal in specific states.
When ordering hemp flower to use in place of a CBD product, it’s very important you check to make sure the flower you’re ordering is referred to as hemp. If the flower doesn’t specifically state hemp in the name, double-check. You could risk breaking local state laws by ordering marijuana flowers if you’re not careful.
|THC Concentration||<0.3%||0.4 – 30%|
|CBD Concentration||1 – 30%||0.1 – 25%|
|Legality||Legal in Most Countries and all US States||Illegal in Most Countries and most US States|
It’s important you find a good quality hemp flower if you want the experience to be enjoyable. Just like marijuana or tobacco, if you’re using a poor-quality product it’s simply not going to taste very good and may not give you the level of effects you’re looking for.
But it can be challenging to shop for hemp flower when there are literally thousands of options available. Which strain should you pick? How can you tell if it’s worth the price?
You can answer all of these questions yourself by following these 5 simple steps when shopping for hemp flower:
The smell of the hemp flower relies heavily on the terpene profile of the herb.
Hemp strains with high concentrations of terpenes will have a very strong smell, while hemp strains with a low terpene content will have a more subtle aroma. Hemp with no terpenes at all will have a grassy smell — you’ll want to avoid these strains if you can.
The actual fragrance of the smell can change too — cannabis makes many of the same terpenes responsible for the aromas of lavender, hops, nutmeg, rosemary, citrus fruits, and cinnamon. Different ratios of these terpenes can dramatically change its aroma. This is why some hemp smell like citrus fruits, others like chocolate.
Take note of bad smells too — a moldy smell is not a quality of hemp terpenes — make sure if you’re weed smells sour or moldy you reach out to the customer service reps for a refund immediately.
The best hemp will have a strong aroma — indicating a rich terpene profile and stronger effects. Hemp that hasn’t been processed or stored properly will usually smell (and taste) like grass and is likely to have low potency as well.
The aroma also gives you a clue to the effects of the strain. Heavier, more musky or cinnamon aromas will usually have a heavy effect (body high), while lighter aromas like hops or citrus usually indicate more heady effects.
Of course, smelling the product isn’t possible when you buy online, so look for notes of how the strain smells and tastes in the product description. Most suppliers will offer guidance on what to expect from each strain and if you’re buying from a reputable source, the description should be pretty accurate.
The trichomes are small structures protruding from the surface of the flowers. They’re made of a hardened resin that stores a great deal of the terpenes and cannabinoids that make hemp useful in the first place.
When you look closely at any cannabis flower you can actually see these terpenes.
The best hemp flower has a lot of visible trichomes on the surface of the leaves. Visible, densely populated trichomes are a good indication that the hemp flower was handled with care throughout the cultivation and harvesting process.
Densely-packed visible trichomes mean three things, each of which has a strong impact on the quality of the flower:
The only way to get really nice trichomes on the hemp flower in the first place is to have a combination of good genetics (strain selection), and exceptionally happy hemp plants.
Plants that have been exposed to minimal amounts of pesticides, grown in nutrient-dense soil, and haven’t been exposed to insects or disease will produce many terpene and cannabinoid-rich trichomes on the surface of the leaves.
Conversely, if the hemp came from a poor line of genetics, were stressed out during growth stages, or were exposed to harsh chemical sprays during production will have lower trichome concentrations to begin with.
You simply can’t have a lot of trichomes in the final product if the original hemp plants didn’t have it to begin with.
The second cause for low trichome levels is poor handling or storage of the hemp plants after harvest.
Processing hemp flowers can easily damage the hemp flower. The process involves cutting them down, removing the buds from the tops of the plant, and hang-drying and curing them over the course of several weeks.
Some manufacturers will put the hemp through a separate process to actively remove some of these trichomes. They do this in order to make other CBD products like hashes, resins, and various extracts. This gives the farmer two products to sell — but can significantly reduce the quality of the hemp flowers as a result.
Finding hemp flowers that have many trichomes still intact is a good indication that the hemp you’re using hasn’t had the trichomes harvested from the flower.
Once the hemp is harvested, dried, and packaged. The clock starts ticking. As time passes, the trichomes gradually begin to break down.
If the hemp is stored correctly, this will take several months to a year to be noticeable. However, hemp stored poorly will age much more quickly and the trichomes may begin to break down in just a few months.
It’s important to look at the harvest date of the hemp your ordering to make sure it was within the last 6 months or so.
Hemp flowers older than 6 months are still good to use, but this should be reflected in the price.
It’s important to remember that not all hemp is the same. Some strains are more sedative, others more euphoric or analgesic. If you’re using hemp for a specific application it’s important to get the right strain for the job.
A good way to decide this is to talk to experts who have experience with different strains of hemp.
People looking for a sedative action should go for the more heavy strains such as Elektra from Blue Ridge Hemp or Mendocino Purps from Industrial Hemp Farms.
People using the herb during the day and want to avoid the sedative effects of some strains should look at strains similar to Sour Diesel from Industrial Hemp Farms or Hawaiian Haze from Blue Ridge Hemp instead.
Reviews are another good way to assess which strains you should be looking for. Our reviews indicate the general effect profile of each strain to help you find strains that are more or less sedating, offer stronger or weaker anti-anxiety or analgesic effects, and more.
In general, hemp that still feels fresh and humid is going to have the best flavor and be less harsh to smoke.
Unfortunately, it’s very common to get hemp flowers that are completely dried-out — even from some of the best suppliers in the business. The dryness could be the result of many factors, ranging from lazy hemp growers who didn’t take the time to dry and cure the hemp flower properly or secondary factors like using containers that aren’t air-tight. This is a common issue with government-regulated packaging for hemp products which are notoriously poor-quality and not completely air-tight.
No matter what the case, you want to avoid buying hemp that’s been completely dried out if you’re looking for the best flower possible.
If you do receive dried hemp, there are some ways you can fix it. While the hemp will lose some of the flavor and potency by drying out, rehydrating it can bring a lot of the flavor back and dramatically reduce the harshness of smoking it.
We recommend rehydrating dried hemp by tossing a few Bovida Packs into a sealed jar with your hemp. This product will balance the humidity to a perfect 67% over the course of a few hours or days (depending on how dried out the hemp was to begin with).
Hemp plants have individual sexes — male flowers produce pollen, while female flowers produce the seeds. We only use the female plants for hemp products because this is where all the cannabinoid-rich hemp resin is produced.
As long as the female plants were grown completely isolated from male flowers, they won’t produce any seeds.
This is easier said than done, but any high-grade hemp flower will be virtually seedless, while lower-grade flowers could be riddled with seeds.
Seeds are undesirable in a hemp flower because not only do they add weight to the flower (thus increasing the price) but they have nothing to offer in terms of benefits.
Yes, cannabis seeds do have value, but only in very large amounts, and certainly not from being smoked or vaped. The seeds can ruin the flavor of the hemp and may even make users feel nauseous if enough are smoked at a time.
If you’re looking for cheap hemp you will likely have to spend a few minutes picking out all the seeds before you pack the pipe, vape, or roll your hemp cigarette.
Just like any farmed product, there are multiple different grades of hemp flower you’ll find online and in shops nearby.
Price-Range: $7 – $14 per gram
Indicators of High-Grade Flower:
This grade of hemp is reserved for the best looking and tasting flowers. In order to get to this point, the plants need to be grown, harvested, and stored almost perfectly. Producing a top-shelf hemp flower is no easy task and can only be achieved by expert growers.
In order to classify, the hemp has to be within 12 months old, maintain roughly 65% humidity, and have a pungent aroma.
Just like a good bottle of wine or whiskey, a top-shelf hemp flower simply tastes and feels better in almost every way. The downside, of course, is that top-shelf hemp can get expensive.
Price Range: $4– 8 per gram
Indicators of Mid-Grade Hemp Flower:
The vast majority of hemp flowers sold online and in local dispensaries can be considered mid-grade.
This category applies to flowers that are in great condition but aren’t exactly perfect. There may be a few too many seeds, the buds could be slightly too dry, or perhaps the genetics of the flower wasn’t optimal, to begin with.
Whatever the case, these flowers are a good option for people who want their hemp to taste good, feel good, but not cost them an arm and a leg to get it.
Price Range: <$4 per gram
Indicators of Low-Grade Hemp Flower
Try to avoid low-grade “schwag” hemp if you can. Not only do these strains not have a very enjoyable flavor, they tend to register harmful contaminants of pesticides when tested.
The problem is that there are a lot of farms prioritizing profits over the quality of their hemp plants. They’re using harsh synthetic fertilizers or growth boosters, spraying toxic pesticides at regular intervals, or growing in regions with high levels of heavy metal contamination.
It’s not impossible to order hemp flowers for less than $4 per gram — but these plants often come from regions like India or China where labor is cheap and the soil is often contaminated with toxic chemicals or heavy metals.
The low cost can be tempting, but it’s definitely better to look for deals in the mid-grade level if you’re on a budget instead.
One of the best bottom-shelf providers is Industrial Hemp Farms. The quality deemed bottom-shelf from this company isn’t bad at all and costs significantly less than most of the hemp you’ll find on the market.
So now that you’ve bought some hemp buds you’re ready to get started — but how do you actually use it?
Here are the three main ways people are using hemp flower at home.
This is the most common way to use hemp flowers. It’s easy to do and provides nearly instant effects. Smoking hemp can be quite enjoyable too if you’re using a good quality product.
In order to avoid stating the obvious, smoking isn’t very good for your health — so this is definitely a major factor to consider when weighing the pros and cons of each method of consumption.
Smoking raw hemp flowers is exactly the same as it is with marijuana — you’ll usually get the hemp in the forms of little nugs which you can then chop up with a grinder and roll with cigarette papers.
You can also find hemp flowers in the form of pre-rolled cigarettes, or in smokable blends containing other herbs as well.
Some people like to combine their hemp flower with tobacco or marijuana — this all comes down to you and your individual preference.
Vaping is our preferred way of using hemp flower because it works just as well as smoking, but without hurting your lungs.
This form of vaping is different from vaping e-liquids. You can’t use raw hemp flowers in your vape pen unless it’s specifically designed to be able to handle dry-herb. You also won’t be able to get the thick white plumes of vapor from raw hemp as you do in your vape oil pen.
Vaping hemp flowers is similar to smoking. Cannabinoids are rapidly decarboxylated and activated under the heat, and resins containing the active ingredients evaporate into the air and towards your lungs.
The only difference with a vape is that it won’t heat to the point of combustion. This is important because combustion is the chemical process responsible for releasing many of the toxic compounds that make smoking bad for your health.
Instead, vapes keep the temperatures to specific ranges between about 180 and 220 degrees Celsius (350 – 430 F). Keeping the hemp flower within this range allows the resin to evaporate, but won’t produce the free radicals and toxic byproducts of combustion.
Hemp flower is the starting point for all other cannabis products. You can use different techniques at home to make any CBD product you want.
Common products people make from raw hemp flower:
More Advanced products you can make from hemp flower:
The world of artisan hemp products is very large — there are hundreds of different product types you could make.
The most basic form of CBD is the humble hemp flower. This is the raw product from which all other CBD products are made and by far the oldest method of using the herb.
Hemp flowers are naturally full-spectrum products, rich in various cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals. They can be smoked, added to a dry herb vaporizer, or even consumed as food.
For those of you feeling creative, you can also order bulk hemp flowers to convert into your own CBD concentrates or extracts.
Shopping for hemp flowers can be overwhelming if you’re not sure what to look for, but with so many interesting strain options to choose from, we think you’ll soon learn to enjoy the process of seeking out new and interesting strains to try for your next order.
If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend checking out one of the companies mentioned below. All of these companies either source or grow some top-notch hemp nugs. All companies on this list have been thoroughly tested and there are no added chemicals or preservatives.
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