Does CBD Smell Like Weed? How Does It Actually Smell?

CBD or cannabidiol is one of the compounds found in marijuana plants. It doesn’t share the psychoactive properties of THC, but it’s growing in popularity thanks to its relaxing effects and other benefits.

Does CBD smell like weed? Let’s take a closer look at this cannabinoid and what it smells like.

Does CBD Smell Like Weed?

CBD is one of the many compounds found in marijuana plants(1). It’s one of the main cannabinoids along with THC, but it doesn’t have any psychoactive effects, which means you won’t feel high after consuming CBD(2).

On a molecular level, CBD contains a mix of carbon atoms, hydrogen atoms, and oxygen atoms. It’s the same building blocks you’ll find in a molecule of THC, but the structure gives these cannabinoids very different properties.

Cannabinoids account for a portion of the 400 different chemical entities found in a typical marijuana plant. These compounds are tasteless and odorless(3).

In other words, CBD doesn’t have a smell or a taste you can identify.

Where Does the Weed Smell Come From?

Anyone who has ever been around marijuana knows this plant has a distinctive smell. The smell can vary from one strain to another, but most people would describe it as earthy or skunk-like. Some plants have notes of lemon, grassy, or pine smells.

The smell tends to resemble pine trees when marijuana plants grow or dry. It typically turns earthy or skunky when the buds burn.

This rich smell comes from a family of chemical compounds known as terpenes. Marijuana plants typically contain a mix of terpenes, including myrcenes, limonenes, and pinenes. A strain with a high concentration of myrcenes will have a skunk-like smell, while limonenes result in a scent that resembles citrus fruits. There are over 200 different types of terpenes present in cannabis plants. Each strain has a different mix of terpenes.

Terpenes are a type of oil that cannabis plants produce naturally. The concentration of terpenes produced and the types of terpenes can vary a lot from one strain to another. Factors like the soil or climate can also affect the level and types of terpenes produced.

Researchers believe that terpenes interact with other chemical compounds to create complex reactions and create the smell that is distinctive of marijuana. Even though interactions occur, terpenes are the main compounds that result in the weed smell(4). 

In nature, terpenes play an essential role by repelling animals that graze on plants. Research also suggests that terpenes can support a plant’s immune system.

Can CBD Products Retain the Characteristic Weed Smell?

Does CBD smell like weed? In its pure form, CBD has no taste or smell. However, some CBD products can retain terpenes and smell like weed.

Marijuana Flower

The buds or flowers of the marijuana plant are the part that smokers grind up and consume. In a typical marijuana plant, the buds will contain THC as well as a certain amount of CBD that can vary from one strain to another(5).

However, if you’re consuming hemp flowers, the THC content will be under 0.3%, and CBD will be the main cannabinoid(6).

Flowers or buds are a natural part of marijuana plants and contain terpenes. In this state, CBD has a strong smell and taste due to the presence of terpenes.

Full-Spectrum CBD Products

What does CBD oil smell like? Full-spectrum CBD oil allows for the creation of products with a high concentration of CBD. You can consume full-spectrum CBD oil in capsules or sublingual drops, but it’s also a common ingredient in edibles or topical skincare products.

Full-spectrum CBD oil is a whole-plant extract. Manufacturers use an extraction and filtration process to remove impurities, but the finished product contains all the cannabinoids and other chemical components of the plant.

This type of CBD oil typically contains less than 0.3% of THC. The amount of CBD will vary based on the quality of the product, and you’ll also find terpenes that give the oil a distinctive smell(7).

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Broad-spectrum CBD oil is slightly different from full-spectrum oil since it doesn’t contain any THC.

However, broad-spectrum CBD oil contains CBD, other cannabinoids, and terpenes among other chemical compounds. Broad spectrum oil and CBD products that contain this type of oil can have a weed smell.

CBD Isolate

You can also CBD products that use CBD isolate instead of CBD oil. Creating CBD isolate is more complex since manufacturers have to use methods like distillation and chromatography to isolate CBD from other chemicals.

Quality CBD isolate should contain pure CBD and have only traces of other chemicals. Terpenes and other compounds should disappear, and CBD isolate shouldn’t have a weed smell. If a CBD isolate smells like weed, you might be dealing with a low-quality product that retained some terpenes.

How Do Other Ingredients Affect the Smell?

CBD oil is the base ingredient for making CBD products like oils, skincare products, or edibles. The finished product can have a weed smell depending on whether terpenes are present, but other ingredients can influence the taste and smell of these products.

Carrier Oils

Carrier oils play an important role in the creation of essential oil products. These ingredients help dilute essential oils that could irritate the skin and facilitate the absorption of active molecules. Carrier oils also help you get a more precise dosage.

CBD edibles use carrier oils to promote absorption by the digestive system. You’ll also find carrier oils in topical CBD products since pure CBD can irritate the skin(8).

Among the most common carrier oils used in CBD products, you’ll find hemp seed oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and medium-chain triglyceride oil.

Except for medium-chain triglyceride oil, these carrier oils contain chemical compounds that have distinctive smells and tastes. However, the level of refining can remove these compounds and make these carrier oils almost tasteless and odorless.

The use of unrefined hemp seed oil can give CBD products a faint taste and smell of weed. Other carrier oils will typically help mask the taste of the terpenes left in the CBD oil.

Note that carrier oils and even CBD oil can develop a rancid taste and smell if the product is too old. If you notice an unpleasant smell coming from a CBD product, it’s best not to use it.


Marijuana isn’t the only plant that contains terpenes. Terpenes are also present in tea, chocolate, or citrus fruits.

Some CBD brands simply introduce terpenes from other sources to hide the presence of myrcenes that can create an unpleasant smell. For instance, you can find CBD products infused with citrus oil, peppermint oil, or even chocolate compounds.

If you have a CBD product with a strong weed smell, try dissolving it in some tea or mixing it with some hot chocolate to mask the unpleasant smell and taste. When it comes to topical products, mixing in a few drops of lemon or orange oil can help.

Aroma Compounds and Fragrances

The CBD market is growing at a fast pace(9). Brands are always creating new products and experimenting with aroma compounds to create pleasant flavors or add appealing fragrances.

Weed doesn’t have a pleasant taste or smell. It’s possible to remove terpenes and obtain an odorless CBD extract with CBD isolate, but the production process costs more compared to full-spectrum CBD oil.

Plus, leaving terpenes and other compounds in CBD products could have some benefits. Researchers believe that the 400 different chemicals present in marijuana work together to create an entourage effect and unlock unique benefits(10). Research suggests that terpenes could help cannabinoids enter the bloodstream.

Leaving terpenes in CBD products is cost-efficient and beneficial. They introduce an unwanted smell, but natural and artificial aromas and fragrances help mask their terpene in the finished product. For instance, some CBD brands use ingredients like chocolate or fruit extracts in their edibles. These ingredients typically cover the smell of the terpenes, but you might still notice faint notes of marijuana as an aftertaste.

You can also find CBD products that contain earthy or even musky aromas to give the impression that the product has a higher marijuana content. Always check the ingredients to get a better idea of the CBD content of a product and don’t hesitate to research the different aromas and fragrances used to better understand how they affect the smell and taste of the product.

While CBD oil usually contains terpenes that have a smell characteristic of marijuana, the additional ingredients used in CBD products will typically determine what the product tastes and smells like.

Wrap Up

Does CBD smell like weed? The answer is no. CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn’t have a smell or odor in its pure state.

However, few products use pure CBD. A majority of CBD products contain full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oil that contains terpenes. Terpenes are responsible for giving marijuana plants their distinctive smell, and you will typically recognize this smell in CBD products.

Since the smell of weed isn’t particularly pleasant, brands use carrier oils, aromas, and fragrances to hide the presence of marijuana terpenes and make CBD products more pleasant to consume.





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