Does CBD Oil Smell Like Weed?

Wondering if CBD oil smells like cannabis is a completely legitimate concern, and a large percentage of potential users would prefer to avoid their breath smelling like weed.

Before we get into everything, we first need to touch upon where exactly does the smell of cannabis come from. 

The compounds behind both the smell and flavor of hemp and cannabis are called terpenes.

Terpenes are produced in the same glands that are responsible for the production of cannabinoids like CBD, and their main purpose in nature is to attract pollinators and deter predators. 

Over a hundred different terpenes have been identified so far, and they are believed to enhance the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids, in a complex chemical process colloquially known as the “entourage effect”.

Advancements in cannabis botany have resulted in strains that have predominantly exotic fragrances and flavors (for instance citrusy, minty, piny or berry-like), but the smell that is most associated with weed comes from the terpene myrcene. 

Myrcene is by far the most prominent terpene in almost all cannabis strains, and its potent earthy and musky tones are inseparably tied with weed. 

While hemp plants (which are the source of CBD for almost all commercially available CBD oils) don’t contain exotic terpenes like some cannabis varieties, they do contain myrcene. 

But, how a specific CBD oil smells depends on the ingredients that the oil contains, which of course depends on the type of production process used in the creation of the oil.

There are three distinct varieties of CBD oil:

Oils made with isolated CBD don’t contain any terpenes whatsoever, and therefore cannot smell like cannabis. 

Broad-spectrum CBD oils contain various constituents of the hemp plant (phytonutrients, terpenes and cannabinoids), and because they contain terpenes it’s possible that their smell resembles the smell of weed

But, it’s important to understand that since using CBD oil doesn’t involve any heating or combustion, the smell of terpenes in broad-spectrum CBD oil is much less potent when compared to vaping and smoking. This is so because heat (boiling) greatly intensifies the smell of terpenes.

Finally, full-spectrum CBD oils also contain terpenes, but unlike broad-spectrum CBD oils, they also contain large amounts of THC. 

The presence of THC in such amounts makes full-spectrum oils are legal only in states with a recreational cannabis program.