- CBD and THC are both cannabinoids and have the same chemical makeup, but their effects on the body are quite different.
- CBD-containing products like lip balms, lotions, and oils are being touted for their health benefits, but don’t have the psychoactive effects of THC-containing products.
- The legality of THC- and CBD-containing products depends on where you live and what species of plant the cannabinoid is derived from.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever drug containing CBD, which is used to treat epilepsy.
Even before then, CBD-containing products from body oils to chocolates began flooding the market, making consumers wonder more about CBD and how it differs from THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana.
Now that Congress has passed the Farm Bill, a piece of legislation that could allow the legal growing of hemp, understanding the nuances of cannabis products and their components (like THC and CBD) is more important than ever.
Here are some of the main differences between them.
CBD and THC are both cannabinoids and have the same chemical makeup
Although CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) have different effects on the body, they are both derived from cannabis plant species and have the same chemical makeup.
Both substances are cannabinoids, or chemical compounds found in cannabis plants. THC is the main chemical compound in marijuana that is responsible for its psychoactive effects. Both marijuana and hemp contain THC and CBD, but hemp plants tend to be low in THC and higher in CBD. Most marijuana strains – at least the ones that get you high – are low in CBD and high in THC.
THC has psychoactive effects, while CBD does not
As Business Insider previously reported, people increasingly are using CBD products on a daily basis to help calm anxiety, decrease stress, and relieve chronic pain because it doesn’t cause the high feeling that products high in THC do. Dispensaries and legal retailers disclose the percentages of THC and CBD in their products for this reason. Some marijuana strains have more CBD than THC, making them useable for the aforementioned purposes.
The reason THC creates these psychoactive effects, according to Healthline, is because it binds to the body’s brain receptors better than CBD does.
As a result, if a person ingests marijuana containing THC, they might experience an increased heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, and slower reaction times. Additionally, THC increases blood flow and users may experience an increased sex drive when using marijuana, a 2017 study found.
CBD is used to treat, seizures, pain, inflammatory bowel disease, and other chronic conditions because its effects don’t interfere with daily life like THC’s effects might.
The legality of CBD is complex
If you enter your local health food store or smoke shop, you might see CBD products available for purchase. These items, like CBD-containing lip balms, lotions, and oils are being touted for their supposed health benefits, including relief from anxiety, stress, and chronic pain.
While THC can also relieve similar conditions, CBD is more readily available in US states where marijuana is still illegal. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers THC-laden marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, which is a substance “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the DEA website.
The complexities don’t end there, though. Depending on the origin, a CBD product may be illegal. Marijuana and hemp are both derived from the same plant species, and both contain a CBD, which puts the substance in a legal grey zone. If a product gets its CBD from marijuana rather than hemp, it might be illegal, legal, or somewhere in between.
More research must be done to understand the uses and effects of cannabis in its many forms
Due to varied laws and regulations surrounding cannabis products, the industry has a lot of work to do to determine the best uses for the plant and its many components.
Scientific research on the effects of cannabis is limited because the substance isn’t controlled and scientists can’t accurately track its potential benefits or harms on the population. Plus, getting approved to grow and study marijuana can be a years-long process due to its widespread illegal status.
Because CBD is so poorly regulated, it’s hard to know what’s actually in all those CBD drinks, food items, and oils that you might come across on store shelves. In fact, some of these CBD items may even contain THC, too.
- Read more:
- How smoking cannabis can affect your sleep for better or worse
- Marijuana makes you want more sex, not less – and it might even make you enjoy it more
- What marijuana really does to your body and brain
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