The use of CBD and THC is becoming increasingly popular as new legislation is being passed each year that expands the ability of individuals to utilize both substances. If you are not familiar with THC and CBD, you may be wondering what all the hype is about. So, what is CBD and THC? How can it be used to help improve your health and well-being and, most importantly, is it legal in your state?

CBD Molecule 

What is CBD?

CBD is the acronym regularly used to describe cannabidiol, the naturally occurring compound found in Cannabis sativa, known commonly as the cannabis plant. CBD is found in larger quantities in the hemp species of cannabis, which also has a lower THC content (>3%) when compared to other species of the plant. The good news about CBD being found in high quantities in hemp is that products derived from the hemp plant are legal in all 50 states.

CBD is useful for easing the symptoms associated with a multitude of physical and mental ailments. People have reported that CBD helps them cope with their anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Research has shown that CBD has the ability to reduce seizures in those diagnosed with epilepsy and can ease the symptoms associated with diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and other ailments. Scientific studies have also confirmed a number of these health issues are aided by incorporating CBD into a treatment plan. At this point, medical experts feel that further study is needed to truly understand the positive impact it can make in healthcare.

 THC Cannabis Plant

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, is the chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, most potent in the Marijuana plant species. It is the chemical that produces the psychoactive effects commonly associated with THC use. THC interacts with the cannabinoid receptors located in the brain. Through this interaction, it stimulates the brain cells to release dopamine, the feel-good hormone associated with happiness and pleasure. THC typically has a mind-altering effect on the user, producing feelings of euphoria, pain relief, sedation, and relaxation.

The use of THC products falls within a gray area of the law due to THC use being federally illegal. Currently, many states have now passed legislation that allows for recreational and medicinal use of THC products. Providing people with the ability to utilize THC products for medicinal purposes is extremely important. THC has been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting and can stimulate appetite in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. It is also able to relieve pain associated with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, and can reduce the negative feelings associated with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.


Similarities of CBD and THC

The most obvious similarity between CBD and THC is that both substances are derived from the cannabis family of plants. Of the over one hundred cannabinoids present in the plant, they are the most prevalent. Both THC and CBD have the same molecular structure of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. CBD and THC are also able to provide relief from the same ailments, allowing users to choose between the two products depending on their needs.

THC and CBD are both available in a wide array of products depending on the user’s preference. Oils and tinctures tend to be the most popular method of delivery for THC and CBD, since they are both user friendly and provide a quick relief of symptoms when used sublingually or vaped. Vapes also provide the ability to use a wide range of products from oils and waxes to dry herb.

Edibles are now readily available to be purchased in the form of chocolates, gummies, and even cookies. If an individual has small children in their home and wants to avoid CBD and THC-infused treats, capsules can also be purchased that contain either substance. Topicals, such as creams and lotions infused with CBD or THC, can provide spot-on relief for musculoskeletal issues such as aching joints and muscles.


CBD and THC Differences

The noticeable difference between CBD and THC are their psychoactive properties. CBD is a non-psychoactive agent and does not produce the “high” sensation that is associated with its counterpart, THC. Both CBD and THC interact with the cannabinoid receptors, known as CB1 and CB2, that are in the brain. CB1 receptors are found in parts of the brain associated with the mental and physiological functions of emotion, memory, motor coordination, and high cognition. CB2 receptors are found throughout the immune system and central nervous system.

While CBD and THC have the same molecular structure, there is one atom that differs, allowing the CBD to have a lesser impact on cognitive function. Both chemicals can bind with CB2 receptors throughout the body, but due to this one small change, CBD does not bind with CB1 receptors as THC does. This means that CBD offers the health benefits of the cannabis plant without producing the altered or sedated sensations associated with THC.

Another difference between CBD and THC is how long each chemical remains active in the body. CBD will typically stay active in the body for four to six hours. THC generally is only active for up to two hours, depending on how it is consumed by the user. Edible users will find that CBD and THC both last longer but that the relief provided by the products will also be slower to take effect.

Vaping CBD and THC 

Vaping CBD and THC

Vaping is one of the easiest ways to use both CBD and THC. They are growing in popularity now, with new products arriving on the market daily. Vaping CBD and THC is shown to impact the user in as little as one minute, with full therapeutic reactions felt in as little as twenty minutes. This is beneficial for providing fast-acting relief as other methods of delivery, such as edibles, can take anywhere from one to two hours for an effect to be felt.

Those who choose to vape CBD and THC are also able to choose from a variety of oils, dabs, dry herbs, and waxes. Dabs and waxes are produced from the resin of the cannabis plant where THC and CBD are both found in higher concentrations. This provides users with a stronger concentration not typically found in oils. Those who have tried CBD or THC oils in the past and found them lacking in potency may be able to achieve relief by trying a dab or wax vaporizer instead. It should be noted that for those interested in utilizing a dry herb vape that THC containing products are the most popular and most readily available.


Legislation of CBD and THC

The legislation of CBD and THC has been at the forefront of the nation’s news cycle since Colorado and Washington state became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis use in 2012. However, it was California that paved the way for medicinal cannabis legalization back in 1996. As of 2019, there are now 33 states plus the District of Columbia that allow for legalized use of medicinal cannabis. Ten states, along with the District of Columbia, have also legalized recreational cannabis use with more soon to follow.

This means that THC containing products are not legal throughout the entirety of the United States. However, a new bill known as the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 was signed into law at the end of 2018 and may open the door for federal legalization of high THC-containing cannabis production. The current bill directly identifies that hemp plants containing less than 0.3% THC content on a dry weight basis are now legal to grow and produce. This bill may allow for cannabis producers to push for further legislation that will fully legalize all THC containing cannabis.

While THC may not be legal in some states, CBD is legal nation-wide. It first became legal in some states after the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill which allowed states to begin the regulation of hemp production, and thereby, CBD. But now, CBD is fully legal in the United States since the passing of the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act that made hemp production federally legal.


Choosing Between CBD and THC

When choosing between CBD and THC, individuals should discuss options with their physician in order to provide a clear treatment plan for the symptoms they are trying to alleviate. This is especially important in the case of THC use in states where it is only legal for medicinal purposes. In this case, a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner would be needed to obtain THC containing products.

CBD and THC both provide similar health benefits, and both can be delivered in various forms from edibles and topical creams to vape oils and waxes. Some may prefer the simplicity of taking CBD or THC in capsule form or they may enjoy the ability to vape dry herb that contains THC. Again, this all falls on individual preference. Keep in mind that various methods may need to be explored before finding the perfect match.

The differences in psychoactive impact may also be the deciding factor for any individual trying to choose between the two. One side effect of THC products can be an increase in paranoia or anxiety. For individuals who are prone to this type of side effect when taking THC, they may wish to use CBD which has no psychoactive effects. But for some individuals, the psychoactive effects of THC may not be a negative side effect at all but instead might prove beneficial. 

Choosing between CBD and THC is completely up to the individual. The advice of their healthcare provider may help to aid them in their decision-making process. Experimenting with various delivery methods and products can help anyone reach a well-educated decision. No matter what an individual chooses to use, CBD and THC can both provide tremendous health benefits.

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