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After the legalization of several types of marijuana and other cannabis products in the United States, you might be curious like many other consumers about the options you have. Two major natural compounds are found in the genus of the cannabis plants; tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
You can extract CBD from marijuana or hemp. The hemp plant is a variety of the cannabis plant, just like marijuana. But the presence of THC in hemp plant is nearly negligible, whereas THC concentration in marijuana plants is higher. You can find CBD in many forms, such as extracts, oils, gummies, gels, and more.
The sensation of “high” after taking marijuana is mainly due to the presence of THC, which is a psychoactive compound. People usually smoke marijuana to consume THC.
THC and CBD both interact with the endocannabinoid system of your body, causing different effects. This article will provide you complete information on THC and CBD.
Both of these cannabinoids work by impacting the receptors CB1 or cannabinoid type 1 present in your brain. However, each compound has a different impact on these receptors. THC activates CB1 receptors, causing elating or high feeling, which you get when smoking marijuana.
On the other hand, CBD works against CB1, and it blocks the intoxicating effect on the receptors. If you take the two compounds together, you will experience a slowed down effect of THC. You can also say that CBD helps in blocking the effects of getting high. (Source)
Chemical Structure of THC and CBD
The molecular structure of THC and CBD is the same. Both have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. The reason why they have different effects on the body is the way these atoms are arranged.
Your body’s endocannabinoids also have the same chemicals i.e. THC and CBD. This is the reason why they are attracted to your receptors inside the cannabinoid system. This interaction releases your brain’s neurotransmitters. The responsibility of these chemical transmitters is to relay messages between a cell to another and play a vital role in your sleep, stress, immune function, and pain.
These compounds, despite having the same chemical structures, do not have similar psychoactive effects on the body. When THC interacts with CB1 or cannabinoid receptors, it produces a sense of euphoria and makes you high. However, CBD slows down the psychoactive effects that THC produces when it interacts with the receptors in your brain.
The legality of THC and CBD
The laws related to cannabis are regularly changing in the United States. THC and marijuana are prohibited by the federal law, as they are on the controlled substances list. However, Washington, D.C., and many other states have legalized high levels of marijuana for medical purposes. Only a licensed physician can prescribe it though.
Furthermore, some of the states allow marijuana for entertainment and medical use, and you can buy it legally. If you want to buy and try THC or CBD, you can confirm the law of your state regarding these compounds. You may face legal penalties if you possess any of these substances in the states where they are illegal.
Medical Benefits of THC and CBD
THC and CBD have many similar medical benefits and may provide relief to several conditions that are the same. So people who do not want euphoric effects prefer using CBD than THC as it has fewer or no side effects.
Epidolex is the first medication that contains CBD and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June. (Source) This medicine helps in treating epilepsy, which is a difficult-to-control and rare condition. Conditions in which CBD may help are as follows:
- Anxiety (Source)
- Depression (Source)
- Migraines (Source)
- Nausea (Source)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Source)
- Mental or psychosis disorders (Source)
- Pain (Source)
- Inflammation (Source)
- Seizures (Source)
The conditions that THC may treat are:
- Anxiety (Source)
- Nausea (Source)
- Low appetite (Source)
- Insomnia (Source)
- Glaucoma (Source)
- Muscle spasticity (Source)
- Pain (Source)
Side Effects of THC and CBD
According to WHO, you can tolerate CBD even if you are taking large doses. According to a study by WHO, the side effects of CBD mostly occur due to its interaction with other medications. (Source)
Temporary Side Effects of THC
The side effects of THC include:
- Loss of memory
- Slowing down of the reaction time
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Problem with coordination
- Racing heartbeats
The above side effects are only psychoactive properties. None of these compounds are fatal. However, if you use high doses of THC for a long time, it can cause negative psychological effects that can linger for a long time. This only happens if you are consuming large amounts of THC.
The damage that THC can cause to the brain is intense in teens. Using the compound continuously can increase the risk of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
What does 0.3% of THC mean?
Marijuana and hemp both produce THC and CBD, and are the most prominent form of cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. Hemp contains a higher concentration of CBD, whereas THC is the highly concentrated component in marijuana. Almost 12 percent of THC is present in an average strain of marijuana. (Source)
The reason why CBD oil contains less amount of THC is that it is derived from the hemp plant. According to federal law, there should be no more than 0.3 percent of THC in any CBD product, which means you can use CBD products that have less than 0.3% of THC in them without any legal consequences.
Both THC and CBD have medical benefits and are considered to be safe. However, their side effects and how they interact with other drugs are to be considered. You need to consult your doctor for further questions regarding the effects of THC and CBD on your body.