Is Cannabis the Only Plant that Makes Cannabinoids?

Written by Nicholas Demski

An interesting look into plants–other than Cannabis varieties–that contain cannabinoids.

It’s the annual, mid-late April holiday when people gather to celebrate cannabis and all she offers. You know what day I’m talking about: 4/20.

By your tradition, you and your friends gather with the finest cannabis you can find to share, enjoy, and spend time being thankful for this giving plant. One friend opens up their bag of Super Lemon Haze and fills the room with a lemony scent. Another cracks open a small glass jar of Sour Diesel and the fuel-like, musky scent overtakes the lemons. Finally, one friend pulls out a green, soft bag of…liverwort?

Who is this cheapskate? With threats of exile, your liverwort-bearing friend begs your patience.

“It’s loaded with cannabinoids,” they exclaim.

Everyone scoffs, shakes their heads, and refuses to place any liverwort in their pipes. Your friend doesn’t blush, they only unlock their phone and show you the data. It turns out, liverwort does contain cannabinoids.1 And, it’s not the only non-cannabis plant that has them; but, don’t be surprised, even your body makes its own cannabinoids, remember?

Plants with Cannabinoids other than Cannabis

Though you might not want to smoke these plants, they do contain cannabinoids. While you may be accustomed to quickly linking cannabinoids to cannabis, the term “cannabinoid” refers to a larger group of compounds. That is, any chemical that interacts with our endocannabinoid system is considered a cannabinoid. Of course, in the following plants, the cannabinoids differ from the cannabinoids found in Cannabis, but only slightly.

Humulus lupulus (hops)

If you’re a fan of beer, there’s a strong chance you’ve drank your fair share of cannabinoids, since hops, a flower often used to make beer, may contain cannabinoids. Isodiol claims to have identified at least two varieties of hop flowers with trace amounts of CBD. Humulus lupulusis actually a member of the Cannabaceae family of plants and is the closest relative to Cannabis that we know of. However, when Dr. Ethan Russo was asked about it by Cannabiz Journal, he said, “hops does not contain CBD naturally…if there were hops that produced CBD, it would only be after it had been genetically modified artificially.”


A 2006 study in the Journal of Receptors and Signal Transduction described how Echinacea contains its own form of cannabinoids.2The researchers described how a collection of N-alkyl amides within some Echinacea flowers specifically interact with our CB2 receptors.

A More Diverse 4/20?

At this time, it’s probably best to stick to cannabis if you’re thinking about smoking your share of cannabinoids. But that doesn’t mean you should scoff at your silly friend who brings a bag of liverwort. They’re theoretically correct that plants outside of Cannabis contain cannabinoids.


  1. Toyota et al. “New bibenzyl cannabinoid from the New Zealand liverwort Radula marginata.” Chemical and Pharamceutical Bulletin. 2002, 50 (10): 1390-2. (Times Cited = 53. Journal Impact Factor = 1.258)
  2. Gertsch et al. “New Natural Noncannabinoid Ligands for Cannabinoid Type-2 (CB2) Receptors.” J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 2006, 26 (5-6): 709-30. (Times Cited = 5, Journal Impact Factor = 2.2)

About the author

Nicholas Demski

Nicholas Demski's latest venture is TheCannabiologist.com. He's a poet, author, cannabis writer, and budding entrepreneur. You can follow his travels with his daughter on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram @TheSingleDadNoma

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