Smoking Hemp CBD: What Does It Do to You?

Illustration of hemp flowers and hemp cigarettes with lighter
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: December 3, 2022

Smoking hemp CBD is becoming one of the most popular ways of supplementing cannabinoids. It doesn’t make you feel high, but you can smoke hemp for a wide range of effects, from calm and relaxation to focus enhancement and stable energy flow.

People are smoking hemp flowers to alleviate different symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, and digestive issues. You can also smoke hemp if you want to improve focus, raise your bottom energy levels, and wake up refreshed after an evening sesh with a CBD joint.

In this article, we cover every aspect of smoking hemp CBD, from its uses and benefits to the best dosages, legal implications, and the best alternatives to CBD flowers.

Smoking Hemp CBD: The Essentials

  • You can smoke hemp, but only the flowers. The leaves may not contain enough CBD to produce the desired effects, while the stalks and seeds shouldn’t be smoked.
  • Smoking hemp won’t get you high, but it will provide a significant sense of calm, relaxation, balance, and focus.
  • The benefits of smoking hemp include fast absorption, high bioavailability, and the entourage effect of inhaling all phytocannabinoids and terpenes from the flower.
  • You can buy loose CBD hemp flowers or CBD pre-rolled joints. Just make sure they have at least 6-10% CBD if you want to reap the therapeutic benefits.
  • Hemp is classified under federal law as any cannabis plant that has 0.3% THC or less. You can buy it without a prescription in dispensaries, head shops, and pharmacies, as well as from online vendors.
  • Cannabis high in THC (marijuana) is federally illegal; you can buy it only in states that have legalized weed for recreational use.

Can You Smoke CBD Hemp Flower?

Yes, and people have been smoking hemp for at least several centuries. Even the Founding Fathers smoked hemp joints from their own plantations.

Contrary to popular myths, they probably weren’t smoking marijuana; at least, no official historical source mentions such activities.

When you smoke hemp flowers, you’re providing your body with CBD, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from the hemp plants. The minor cannabinoids include CBG, CBN, CBC, CBDA, and trace amounts of THC (up to 0.3%).

Inhalation delivers these compounds almost immediately, making the effects noticeable within a few minutes from the last puff.

Will Smoking Hemp Make You Feel High?

No, you won’t get high from smoking hemp CBD because it doesn’t contain enough THC to induce intoxication. However, depending on the concentrations of CBD in flowers, the buzz may be more energizing or relaxing.

If you want to experience the psychoactive effects of cannabis, you’d need to smoke marijuana, which typically contains 15–20% THC on average.

What Does Smoking Hemp Flower Feel Like?

When you smoke hemp CBD, you can expect a calming wave of relaxation accompanied by tension relief and a sense of balance. The effects improve your perception of the surroundings while keeping you perfectly sober.

You won’t feel any significant euphoria, problems with coordination, short-term memory issues, or other signs of intoxication.

The effects of smoked hemp are great if you’re looking for quick relief from pain, anxiety, stress, inflammation, or other health concerns related to endocannabinoid deficiencies.

Which Parts of Hemp Are Good for Smoking?

It’s always the flower. Flowers are the resinous part of hemp that grows dense buds covered with trichomes.

Trichomes look like crystal glands; they’re home to cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other therapeutic hemp compounds.

Some people add leaves to their hemp joints, but the dried leaves play a similar role to tobacco. They’re here as fillers, not to enhance the effects of CBD.

Hemp seeds and stems shouldn’t be smoked because they contain little to no cannabinoids.

The seeds are a known superfood; they contain healthy omega fatty acids, a range of vitamins, and microelements — but you won’t find any CBD and terpenes in them.

When smoked, hemp seeds give off a harsh taste similar to burnt earth.

If you want to incorporate seeds into your diet, just eat it or drizzle some hemp seed oil over your meat or salad dressing.

And use the leaves for brewing some hemp tea.

But for smoking, stick to hemp flower, especially for the therapeutic CBD experience.

Which Parts of Hemp Shouldn’t You Smoke?

A CBD pre-roll is placed next to hemp flowers.

Smoking hemp CBD flower causes cannabinoids and other therapeutic compounds to enter your body through the small air sacs (alveoli) located in the lungs.

From there, they will enter the bloodstream and interact with various receptors in your brain, central nervous system, immune system, peripheral organs, and connective tissues, all of which constitute the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a vast neurochemical network of receptors, endogenous messengers (cannabinoids), and enzymes spread throughout the body.

These three elements work in synergy to manage and regulate critical physiological and mental functions, such as memory, mood, sleep, pain perception, immune response, metabolism, appetite, neurogenesis, fertility, etc.

In other words, the ECS is the primary guardian of your other systems and organs, protecting them from environmental damage and promoting homeostasis (balance).

How Does Smoking Hemp CBD Affect Absorption?

Inhalation of CBD hemp flower introduces beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes to the ECS.

These molecules flow through the blood and bind to cannabinoid receptors located in the aforementioned sites.

This interaction with your cannabinoid receptors optimizes the functioning of the ECS, especially when you suffer from anxiety, inflammation, pain, sleep problems, low appetite, and other conditions that send make your body fall out of whack.

Benefits of Smoking Hemp CBD

Smoking hemp CBD flower comes with three main benefits:

1. Fast-Acting Effects

When you eat cannabis-infused food, the cannabinoids and terpenes enter the bloodstream through the liver, where they get metabolized with other food compounds. This results in a delayed onset; you’ll need to wait a minimum of 30 minutes before you can experience the signature effects of CBD.

Sublingual use, on the other hand, avoids the liver and delivers CBD through the set of tiny capillaries located under your tongue. The effects of CBD tinctures are noticeable within 15–20 minutes.

However, no method can beat inhalation. Smoking hemp CBD flower causes the compounds to enter the bloodstream through the lungs, ensuring the fastest-acting effects. Smokeable forms of CBD usually kick in within 5 minutes.

2. High Absorption Rates

Perhaps the most significant perk of smoking hemp CBD flower is high bioavailability.

Bioavailability refers to the leftover amount of the active ingredient that ends up in the bloodstream after being metabolized.

Oral forms have the lowest bioavailability of all consumption methods (up to 20%)

Sublingual products (e.g., tinctures and sprays) score a bit higher (at 35%).

Guess what’s the most bioavailable form out there?

Inhalation.

Smoked and vaporized CBD ensures the bioavailability of 56–69%, so not only can you feel the effects faster, but they’re also stronger.

3. Whole-Plant Treatment

Inhaling CBD from hemp flowers allows you to experience the whole-plant synergy, also known as the entourage effect.

These aren’t blends of isolates but the full spectrum in its natural environment.

The entourage effect means that cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in cannabis amplify their health benefits while mitigating unwanted reactions. As a result, the minor compounds enhance the therapeutic potential of CBD and limit the risk of side effects such as appetite fluctuation, diarrhea, or a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Is It Legal to Smoke Hemp?

Yes. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp in all 50 states by removing it from the list of controlled substances.

It also made hemp-derived products, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, salts, and isomers, legal at the federal level.

The only requirement is that these products contain no more than 0.3% delta 9 THC.

The current law has paved the way for other isomers of THC, such as delta 8, delta 10, and delta 6a10a THC — all of which are legal in light of federal law.

Can You Vaporize Hemp CBD?

Yes, and vaporizing hemp CBD flower is actually better for your health than smoking. It also increases the therapeutic potency of your strain thanks to preserving valuable terpenes and minor cannabinoids at lower temperatures.

Vaping also doesn’t lead to combustion, which is great if you don’t like to inhale harmful carcinogens.

Long story short, vaporization makes for a decent harm reduction tool if you don’t want to give up on the inhalation habit.

Benefits of Vaporizing Hemp Flower

  • Precise control over temperature. Unlike smoking hemp CBD joints, vaporizers allow you to adjust the temperature to just one degree. That’s particularly important because temperatures affect the flavor experience and the strength and direction of therapeutic effects.
  • Low profile and convenience. Smoking hemp CBD flower produces the same pungent odor as smoking normal weed, so you’ll definitely make some heads turn when you light up in public. Vaping doesn’t have that inconvenience because the aromas are gentle and actually pleasant to inhale.
  • Healthier than smoking. Since vaping prevents your herb from being smoked, it helps you avoid inhaling the tar and other toxins.
  • Better flavor. While some cannabis users argue smoking hemp flower draws out the natural flavor, vaping allows you to personalize your experience by maximizing the number of specific terpenes. The subtle hints of minor terpenes are also easier to pick up.

Can You Make Edibles from Hemp Flower?

Yes, you can turn hemp CBD flower into CBD-infused hemp butter. Not only does it taste great in its raw form — when you spread it on a slice of freshly baked sourdough bread — but it also enhances the flavor of warm dishes, adding an intriguing layer to your meals.

CBD edibles work like weed-infused food, except for the lack of intoxication. You can experience a delay between 30–60 minutes, depending on your metabolism and whether you eat CBD on a full or empty stomach.

The effects develop gradually and last longer than smoked forms — usually between 8–10 hours.

Popular Hemp Flower Strains

A hemp flower is waiting to be processed for smoking.

Here are the most popular hemp strains that contain exceptionally high levels of CBD due to selective breeding:

1. Lifter

  • 25-30% CBD
  • Sativa
  • Dominant terpenes: limonene, myrcene, caryophyllene
  • Aroma and flavor: piney, earthy, fruity
  • Effects: energizing, mood-lifting, focus-enhancing

2. Magic Bullet

  • 18-20% CBD
  • Indica
  • Dominant terpenes: myrcene, caryophyllene
  • Aroma and flavor: citrusy and peppery
  • Effects: mildly sedating, great for nighttime use, and insomnia

3. The Wife

  • 12-20% CBD
  • Indica-dominant hybrid
  • Dominant terpenes: caryophyllene, myrcene
  • Aroma and flavor: sweet, floral, skunky
  • Effects: sedating, stress-relieving, good for pain, nausea, and loss of appetite

4. Hawaiian Haze

  • 18-23% CBD
  • Sativa
  • Dominant terpenes: pinene, myrcene, caryophyllene
  • Aroma and flavor: fruity, spicy
  • Effects: Uplifting, focus-boosting, energizing, great for social settings, stress, and anxiety

5. Elektra

  • 18-22% CBD
  • Indica
  • Dominant terpenes: myrcene, caryophyllene, bisabolol
  • Aroma and flavor: fruity, musky
  • Effects: Calming, relaxing, good for afternoon use and early evening

What About Delta 8 THC Hemp Flower? Is It Legal and Safe?

Yes, delta 8 THC hemp flower is legal at the federal level, although 14 states have banned delta 8 THC products. Always check with your local regulations regarding delta 8 before your order online.

Technically speaking, delta 8 THC flower is just regular hemp CBD flower infused with delta 8 distillate for its mildly intoxicating buzz.

Delta 8 THC is about half as potent as delta 9. It also comes with a lower risk of anxious or paranoid side effects, which is the main reason why the popularity of delta 8 products has skyrocketed over the last two years.

Delta 8 THC has a relatively good safety profile, although not all delta 8 products are created equal. Here’s a quick recommendation if you’re looking for high-quality, lab-certified delta 8 products for beginners.

Best Delta 8 THC Pre-rolls: Area 52

Product Image of Area 52 Delta 8 Pre-rolls

Area 52 is a California-based manufacturer of cannabinoid extracts. The brand specializes in minor cannabinoids, such as delta 8 THC, CBN, CBG, and CBC.

The current focus of Area 52 is the line of delta 8 THC products from the highly concentrated distillate. Area 52 offers traditional formats like tinctures, gummies, vape carts, and pre-rolled joints.

This is a great pick if you’re smoking hemp CBD for the first time because you don’t need to roll your own joints. For some people, the first attempts can be frustrating, so buying artisan pre-rolls like these will save you both time and nerves.

The joints are made from different strains, including Indica, Sativa, and hybrid. Terpenes infused into these flowers alongside the delta 8 distillate allow you to experience the classic effects of weed but with a lower potency and more stable buzz.

Area 52 sources its hemp from organic farms in Colorado and Kentucky; both regions are known for their organic farming practices and healthy CBD flowers.

Final Verdict: Is Smoking Hemp CBD Good for You?

Smoking hemp CBD isn’t the healthiest consumption method out there, but it’s undoubtedly practical.

When you smoke hemp flower, you deliver the whole package of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids through your lungs — ensuring potent, fast-acting effects.

However, smoking hemp CBD comes with the shortest duration, not to mention that combustion kills off plenty of terpenes and minor cannabinoids.

If you’re looking for a healthier way to inhale hemp buds, you can vaporize them in a dry herb vaporizer (portable or tabletop). Vaporization gives you greater precision over temperature and dosage, which can be a game changer if you want to maximize the therapeutic effects of your strain.

Hemp flowers also come infused with delta 8 THC. This hemp-derived cannabinoid (and a mild intoxicant) is federally legal, so you can easily buy it online, provided that your state allows delta 8 products.

Do you smoke hemp CBD flower? What are your favorite strains? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.