With all the different cannabis products on the market these days, it’s time to start making sense of it all.
With the use of natural, herbal remedies at an all-time high, consumers are having to learn entirely new jargon: CBD, extracted THC, full spectrum hemp, oils, gummies, medical-grade, ETC. The list goes on and on and trying to make sense of it all can be overwhelming.
At the most basic levels, we want to know: Will this get me high? Is this even legal? How will this affect me? Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better you can serve your own body.
We’ve distilled it all down into easily digestible, scientifically-backed answers. Medicinal cannabis (in all its forms) is only becoming more prevalent in our daily lives and no matter what ailment you might be facing, chances are high that there’s a cannabis-based solution just for you.
What is Cannabis
Cannabis sativa is, first and foremost, a plant made up of numerous cannabinoids, the most common being THC and CBD. According to the USDA Food Nutrition Database, cannabis actually has more nutrients per gram than superfoods like broccoli, kale, or berries.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Cannabis is marijuana, right?” And you’d be kinda right. But there are two very important distinctions when it comes to the cannabis plant, and it has to do with hemp vs marijuana.
Marijuana Has THC
Legally speaking, marijuana is cannabis that has over 0.3% THC. Pop-culturally speaking, marijuana is the star of Dazed and Confused. It’s the psychoactive, peace-and-love, pastime of old. The consumption of marijuana has been around since the early days of civilization. It gained quite a reputation in the 60s and 70s and now is used quite recreationally in various forms. The classic “joint” is still going strong, but consumers can also find gummies, capsules, oils, and topicals.
Not all marijuana is created equal, however. Depending on the crop, the plant, or the strain, you can find marijuana with higher or lower levels of THC or CBD.
Perhaps this is a good time to differentiate between THC and CBD…
THC vs CBD
Although CBD and THC are both found in the cannabis plant, they do not serve the same purposes or have the same effects.
THC is classified as psychoactive. This means that consumption of THC (again, depending on the levels) can result in alterations in mood, perception, or behavior. THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and can produce elevated feelings of euphoria or relaxation. This is what gets you high.
CBD, on the other hand, while not technically considered psychoactive, produces much more subtle responses in the brain and body. CBD is what generally helps with anxiety, seizures, or just general tension. In fact, CBD can reduce some of the more unwanted results from THC, such as paranoia. CBD does not get you high.
CBD is federally legal throughout the U.S, while THC is legal only in certain states. This is why CBD can be easily ordered online but THC must be purchased in dispensaries. However, here’s the rub: CBD attaches more easily to our brains’ receptors when the presence of THC is also detected. Put simply: CBD doesn’t work as well without its buddy. So, if you purchase a purely CBD-only product, you may not get the desired results. But how can you get effective CBD in a state where THC is illegal?
Excellent question. This, my friends, is where Hemp comes in.
Hemp Has Little to No THC
Hemp is marijuana’s counterpart. Also derived from the cannabis plant, think of hemp as marijuana’s more straight-edged big sister. Put simply: hemp is cannabis that has less than 0.3% THC. Hemp has been federally legal since the passage of 2018 Farm Bill. It can be purchased online and in stores, no doctor’s note required.
When it comes to hemp, there are no limits on CBD levels. As long as the THC levels are below 0.3%, then you’re free and clear. But keep in mind that, just because it’s federally legal, doesn’t mean that all workplaces allow its use.
Most hemp blends will contain a combination of both THC (under 0.3%) and CBD. However, it is possible to extract hemp oil with no amount of THC or CBD from the cannabis plant. And that brings us to Extraction vs Whole Plant.
Extraction vs Whole Plant
Most cannabis products on the market are selling some form of extracted cannabis. Whether it’s CBD, THC, hemp, marijuana, or some unique combination, it’s often extracted and pulled directly from the cannabis plant. While extraction mostly works just fine, some would argue that it is a highly inefficient way to utilize cannabis.
The process of extraction is quite complicated, energy-intensive, and extremely wasteful. Not to mention, so much of the plant is getting left behind. As we mentioned before, THC and CBD are only TWO of the many compounds and cannabinoids that make up the cannabis plant. And science tells us that they all work better together.
A study published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, “Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts?” found that the compounds in the cannabis plant work hand-in-hand to enhance all the benefits of CBD and THC, while diminishing any negatives. And, all those nutrients that rival superfoods? You’ll miss out on those if you’re only using extracted CBD and/or THC. The point is: for best results, the whole plant is simply better.
Is Hemp Good For You?
For most people, whole plant hemp has many benefits. People have found that they have less stress, less pain, better sleep, and healthier lives overall. Since hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, there are virtually no negatives to consuming hemp on a daily basis. It’s highly unlikely to “get high” or experience psychoactive effects when taking hemp in moderation.
Which Hemp Blend is Right For You?
As a consumer, stick with companies that offer full spectrum or whole plant hemp and are transparent with their lab results and ingredients list. If you have questions, ask! Most companies want to explain how their products are made. If they don’t, then you may not be getting the best ingredients. Knowledge is power and you know your body best. When it comes to cannabis, sometimes it takes a while to find exactly what you’re looking for. But when you do find it, maybe you’ll get what all the fuss is about. It’d be a lot cooler if you did.