Does Cannabidiol smell like weed?

Cannabidiol is touted as a medical miracle compound, claimed to help with various conditions from anxiety and chronic pain to epilepsy and inflammation. Cannabidiol has no psychoactive effects, unlike its THC-containing counterpart. That would be the end of the story, but it seems that many people still believe that CBD odors are reminiscent of marijuana.

Does CBD smell like weed? That depends on what you mean by weed. If we are talking about a freshly grown cannabis plant, then yes, CBD smells like weed. However, if the person is asking about not the plant but rather the terpenes and how they smell, then the answer is no. The reason is simple: Cannabidiol does not have a distinct odor, unlike some of its terpene companions. The scent associated with CBD comes from various strains of hemp and likely from different terpenes within those strains.

When someone says there is a CBD smell, they often mean it is reminiscent of the smell of marijuana. However, like any odor, if it’s smelled, it has to come from somewhere. So what gives?

The fact is that most CBD-claimed odors are just plain old plants. No magical molecules change their scent or alter the way they smell when you burn them. When most people say that CBD smells, they mean it smells like marijuana. If a company says CBD is scented with lavender, but you smell weed, then chances are you’re smelling lavender—not Cannabidiol.

CBD flower

However, some cannabis strains do have a CBD smell to them. The thing is, these strains were bred specifically for the medical properties of the Cannabidiol present in the strain. Most people who report smelling CBD when smoking weed is actually smelling the terpenes produced by the plant during THC conversion. This process produces various odors, most of which will be familiar to those who regularly consume cannabis or dab certain terpenes in vapor form at home.

The truth is that CBD smells like marijuana, but if you know what terpenes are and what they smell like when they are smoked, it becomes easier to discern which strains have been bred with medicinal terpenes and which have not.

Terpenes are organic chemicals that give plants as diverse as flowers and trees their colors, scents, and flavors. There is a large variety of these essential compounds in a cannabis plant, with some of the more common ones responsible for the distinctive odors we associate with different strains. So when someone says, “does cannabidiol smell like a weed” they may be referring to some combination of all those flavors everyone has come to love from their favorite bud.