As the legal use of hemp and other cannabis products grows, consumers are becoming more curious about what they can purchase. One of the most prevalent compounds found in plants of the Cannabis genus is cannabidiol (CBD). It’s joined by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well.
CBD can be extracted from either hemp or cannabis plants.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a plant that has been used for many purposes, most notably the production of paper and clothing. CBD can come in the form of gels, edibles, oils, and more.
The main psychoactive compound in marijuana is THC. Cannabis can be smoked, drank in oils and teas, or taken through edibles and pills.
CBD and THC affect your body’s endocannabinoid system, but they have very different effects.
CBD vs. THC: Chemical structure
Both CBD and THC have the same molecular composition of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen. There are two different ways that the atoms can be arranged and produce different effects on the body.
CBD and THC are both chemically similar to your body’s endocannabinoids. This allows them to interact with your body’s cannabinoid receptors.
The release of neurotransmitters in your brain is dependent on a variety of factors, including the interaction between two or more people. Neurotransmitters have roles in the transmission of messages between cells. Neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating pain, immune function, and stress levels, which can also regulate mood and sleep patterns.
CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive components
Despite their similar chemical makeup, CBD and THC don’t have the same psychoactive effects. CBD doesn’t produce the high commonly associated with THC. CBD can help people with anxiety, depression, and seizures.
THC binds to brain cells called CB1 receptors that create a high or euphoria.
CBD does not bind to CB1 receptors. CBD can bind to the CB1 receptors and reduce some of the unwanted effects, such as euphoria or sedation.
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CBD vs. THC: Legality
In the United States, marijuana-related laws are evolving regularly. CBD is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law.
Hemp has been removed from the Controlled Substances Act. The DEA and FDA still classify CBD as a Schedule I drug.
Though 33 states and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis, it remains illegal under federal law with a high THC level. Some evidence suggests that cannabis may need to be prescribed by a physician.
There’s a new trend in the legalization of recreational cannabis and THC in several states.
In states where cannabis is legal for recreational or medical purposes, you should be able to purchase CBD. Before you purchase products with CBD or THC, it’s important to research your state’s laws.
If you travel to a state where marijuana is still illegal or if you cross state lines without proper documentation, the penalties for possession of cannabis products may be severe.
CBD vs. THC: Medical benefits
CBD and THC are both known for their medical benefits, but CBD has fewer side effects. CBD is effective at treating discomfort, but it doesn’t cause the same feelings of euphoria as THC. There are two side effects of using CBD: there is minimal to no THC, and some people do not like the flavor. In June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex – which contains both CBD and another substance called terpenes – as a prescription medication. It is used to treat rare forms of epilepsy. (Epidiolex is not currently approved for any of the other conditions listed below.)
CBD is used to help with other conditions, such as:
- psychosis or mental disorders
- inflammatory bowel disease
THC is used to help alleviate symptoms for the following:
- muscle spasticity
- low appetite
CBD vs. THC: Side effects
CBD is well tolerated in large doses. Side effects that occur with cannabis use are the result of drug interactions between it and other medications you may be taking.
THC leads to temporary side effects, such as:
- increased heart rate
- coordination problems
- dry mouth
- red eyes
- slower reaction times
- memory loss
CBD’s side effects may include:
- appetite changes
- weight loss
The side effects of this compound are a direct result of its psychoactive properties.
At the same time, high THC intake may lead to long-term mental health issues. This is especially true for adolescents who consume large amounts of THC. While there is no conclusive evidence that cannabis causes psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, some long-term users have had psychotic breaks.
CBD vs. THC: Drug testing
Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are stored in body fat. They can show up on drug tests for six months to two years after using them.
Not every drug test can detect CBD, but CBD-sensitive tests are available. Most standard drug tests will look for chemicals related to THC, so THC or marijuana use may show up on screening.
Furthermore, hemp can produce both CBD and THC; a test could be positive for THC even if you have not used it.
Some products that claim to be free of THC may contain some, so if you are drug tested, it is necessary not to use CBD or marijuana-related items.
Why do people talk about THC content in CBD oil if THC and CBD are two different compounds?
CBD and THC are two of the most prominent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD is primarily found in hemp while THC is what gives you a “high.”
However, hemp has a higher concentration of CBD in comparison to cannabis which contains a higher concentration of THC.
Cannabis strains today contain about 12 percent THC. CBD oil may also contain small amounts of THC because it is present at low levels in the hemp plant. CBD can have no more than 0.3% THC to be legal at the federal level.
CBD and THC both have medicinal benefits, but there is a risk of side effects and interactions with other drugs you are taking. Speak with a medical professional before use. If you have any questions, ask them about the benefits and risks associated with using CBD supplements.