Humans have been using Cannabis Sativa for over 10,000 years, but you probably know it better by its more common names marijuana and hemp. In fact, it is believed that the first spun fiber was that of a cannabis plant. It has been used for thousands of years in a myriad of applications such as paper, clothing, textiles, biodegradable plastics, insulation, paint, biofuel, food products, and animal feed. When used in these industries the cannabis plant is called industrial hemp. Over these thousands of years, humans figured out that the cannabis plant can also be a great tool to get them high. Through the power of selective breeding, humans have developed a variety of the cannabis plant that is rich in tetrahydrocannabinol better known as THC. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gets you high and THC rich varieties are more commonly referred to as marijuana.
It has actually been found that cannabis has a whole host of beneficial compounds in the plant. These compounds are what are called cannabinoids. These cannabinoids have been shown to react with our own endocannabinoid system inside of our bodies. Some users and medical professionals report that cannabinoids can help a slew of ailments ranging from anxiety and depression to more serious illnesses such as epilepsy or cancer. THC is one of those cannabinoids and another has been making headlines all over the world recently. It is known as cannabidiol often shortened to CBD.
What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?
THC comes from varieties of the cannabis plant grown to be high in THC and is more often referred to as marijuana. While CBD also comes from cannabis, it is more often derived from a variety called industrial hemp. Hemp is grown to be very low in THC, but much higher in CBD. Although CBD can be extracted from marijuana, many looking for CBD prefer to grow hemp as it is legal in all 50 states under the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp and products derived from hemp such as CBD are also legal to possess and consume given it was grown under these regulations. Whereas marijuana does not conform to this law since it is above 0.3% THC limiting products made from marijuana to states where THC is legal.
The biggest and most noticeable difference between CBD and THC is that CBD does not get you high, but THC does. CBD and THC are molecularly identical, but a slight deviation in how the atoms are arranged leads to different effects on the body. THC binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain, producing the euphoric feeling we call high. CBD also binds to these receptors albeit weakly. This leads to no high feeling and in fact, often diminishes the feelings of a high at all.
Are they Legal?
Yes and no. 33 states have passed laws allowing for the medical use of marijuana and 11 other states, including Washington, DC have gone as far as allowing recreational use for adults over 21. Hemp, on the other hand, was made federally legal as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. This officially made any products derived from hemp legal in all 50 states as well. Which led to an explosion in the popularity and availability of CBD products. The environment of the marijuana movement is rapidly evolving with laws changing very rapidly. As people begin to see the benefits of both varieties of this plant the landscape out there becomes much more inviting.
Reported Medical Benefits of CBD and THC
Both THC and CBD have been reported to have many of the same medical benefits. The exception being that THC will get you high, whereas CBD will have no effect on the mind. This is great for people looking for medicinal properties without the psychoactive traits.
CBD is reported to help with:
- Mental Disorders
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
THC is reported to help with:
- Low Appetite
- Muscle Spasticity
What are the Side Effects?
CBD does not generally induce side-effects, even in large doses. In very few cases some people have reported experiencing dry mouth, drowsiness, and fatigue. On the other hand, some relatively common but temporary side effects of THC are dry mouth, coordination problems, increased heart rate, red eyes, slower reaction times, and memory loss. Neither CBD nor THC is reported to be fatal and any adverse side effects should wear off over time.
Do They Show Up on Drug Tests?
Typically, THC is the only cannabinoid that is tested for. There are CBD sensitive drug tests on the market, but since CBD is legal it is not generally looked for. Keep in mind, although a CBD product is made from hemp there is a chance the trace amounts of THC could show up on a drug test. People that absolutely cannot have THC in their systems should avoid full spectrum or whole plant products in favor of products containing CBD isolate. CBD isolate is pure CBD and contains no other cannabinoids, flavonoids, or terpenes from the hemp plant, therefore, less likely to trigger a test.
CBD and THC both have many amazing reported medicinal properties which is leading the world to think much differently about them. From being a fringe culture to taking the world by storm with one of the largest growing industries. Cannabis has been a very useful plant for much of humanity and is proving to be far more useful as time goes forward.