A Beginner's Guide to CBD & THC

March 29, 2022 5 min read

A Beginner's Guide to CBD & THC

While the cannabis plant has dozens of compounds, THC and CBD are undoubtedly the most famous ones.  As we're heading towards a worldwide area of legalization, we're seeing a meteoric rise in the market of cannabis- and hemp-derived products.  Yet, there is still a lot of misinformation and confusion regarding these products; particularly when it comes to the differences between THC and CBD.

THC, which stands for 'tetrahydrocannabinol,' is one of the dozens of naturally-occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant.  Besides THC, cannabidiol (CBD) is the other most well-known cannabinoid.  In simple terms, cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the cannabinoid receptors in our body.  Specifically, they interact with something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and have been shown to have medicinal and therapeutic effects.

THC and CBD interact with the ECS in different ways, thus giving way to encouraging users to prefer one over the other.  One is known for producing some of the more fun "high" effects, while the other is famous for its potential to reduce anxiety and improve sleep.  Keep reading to learn all you need to know about CBD vs. THC.


THC VS. CBD: PSYCHOACTIVE PROPERTIES

When most people think about cannabis their first though usually goes to the teenagers getting high behind the bleachers at school, or toking up right before dinner and entering the house with bloodshot eyes thinking nobody is going to notice.  Fortunately, there's so much more to cannabis than this stereotype.

Despite some forms of cannabis causing psychoactive effects, there are only a few compounds that can truly cause that all-too-familiar "high" sensation; and THC and its analogues such as Delta-8 THC, HHC, and THC-O are those compounds.  CBD on the other hand, is not.


CBD is not a psychoactive compound; so, you cannot get high by using CBD-infused products.  Especially since legal CBD products in the market are not allowed to have more than 0.3% THC.  This small percentage of THC will not get you high.  In fact, CBD may even counteract the intoxication caused by THC (Seriously, how interesting is that?  One cannabinoid essentially decreasing the effects of another?  Nature is cool!).

This difference is caused by the way both compounds work in the body.  Instead of boring you with all the science behind it, we'll keep it short and sweet.  THC links up to the receptors in the body perfectly; like a puzzle piece.  CBD, on the other hand, doesn't link up as snugly.  Scientists believe the psychoactive effects of THC are likely caused by the way it fits into the receptors so perfectly.  Something about that connection causes more intense bodily and psychological effects.


THC VS. CBD: MEDICINAL BENEFITS

You've probably hear a lot about the potential medicinal benefits of THC vs. CBD.  As we mentioned above, both compounds interact with our body's ECD.  The ECS is a regulatory system that plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of many biological functions.  These functions include mood, sleep, appetite, pain response and more.

Fun fact: there are ECS receptors all over your body.  Even your eyeballs have cannabinoid receptors (this is partly what causes the characteristic bloodshot eyes after smoking weed, but we can discuss that more in another article).

Studies have shown that THC and CBD may be helpful in managing chronic pain, inflammation, and insomnia among other things.

CBD is commonly used to provide relief from everyday stress and anxiety. CBD, however, has the potential to help with more complex health issues, such as managing symptoms related to high blood pressure, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, and Crohn's disease.  In 2018, the FDA approved CBD as a pharmaceutical (Epidiolex) for treating two rare and severe forms of pediatric epilepsy - marking an important step towards the use of CBD as a medical compound.

THC is often used to alleviate nausea caused by cancer treatment side effects, glaucoma, tremors, pain, and much more.

Research into the medical properties of cannabinoids only began in the late 40s, so it's a relatively new field.  With the loosening of cannabis laws, we're seeing a growing number of studies in this area.  Hopefully we will have a lot more information about all the other great benefits in the future.

This takes us to the next point - the legality of THC and how that differs from CBD.


THC VS. CBD: LEGALITY

As we're coming out of a period of prohibition, cannabis laws are constantly changing.  There is no clear answer whether cannabis-related products are entirely legal.  The short answer: it depends.

According to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD products on the market are extracted from agricultural hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant that does not contain more than 0.3% THC.  As such, CBD products are legal at the federal level as long as the THC content does not exceed that legal limit.

When it comes to the legality of THC, on the other hand, we've faced a very different story.  THC is still considered a Schedule 1 drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it is an illegal substance under federal law.  Each state, however, may have it's own laws about the use and possession of THC.  Many states have embraced the use of THC both medicinally and recreationally, whereas other states still ban it completely.

Ultimately, the legality of THC and CBD products will depend on the state you live in.  So, make sure to check the state laws before purchasing any products.


THC VS. CBD: DRUG TESTING

Traces of THC and CBD can stay in your system for a while.  This means they can potentially appear on a drug test several days or weeks after you've consumed products.  THC is detectable in most standard drug tests; and since THC is still illegal in many areas, several companies use drug tests that specifically test for THC.

CBD, on the other hand, is not an illegal substance.  Drug tests are not designed to look for traces of CBD.  Keep in mind, however, that many CBD products, including that of Envy CBD products, contain small traces of THC, so you can still theoretically test positive.  In the end, whether or not you test positive for THC will come down to how you are being tested.  If you work in an environment where you might be subject to drug tests, it's best to consult with your employer about your intention to use CBD products.


THC VS. CBD: POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS

Neither THC nor CBD are reported to have any fatal side effects, so they are considered generally safe to use.  That does not mean, however that you wouldn't potentially experience any adverse side effects.  THC is a known intoxicant, some experience some impairment of motor skills such as disorientation and/or dizziness after consuming said products.  Some other side effects can include paranoia, increased heart rate, dry mouth, and short-term memory loss.

CBD, on the other hand, is labeled as a safe compound with no abuse potential by the World Health Organization.  That's not to say that it does not possess any adverse side effects.  While typically mild and well-tolerated, CBD side effects may include fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, changes in mood, and appetite.

It's also important to talk with your doctor about your CBD or THC use if you take prescription medications.  Certain drugs can interact negatively with cannabis.  Learn more about that here.


THE BOTTOM LINE

While THC and CBD are both popular compounds in the cannabis plant, there are notable differences between the two.  When studying both compounds, both possess medicinal and therapeutic benefits.  The main  differences include that THC is known for its intoxicating experience - in other words, it can get you high.  CBD, on the other hand, allows you to experience the benefits of cannabis with a clear head.  On top of that, CBD is more popular for its many potential uses, ranging from anxiety relief, pain management, and improved sleep, the future of proven, tried-and-true applications is bright!



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