Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two main ingredients in the marijuana plant. Both CBD and THC belong to a unique class of compounds known as cannabinoids.
While many strains of marijuana are known for having abundant levels of THC, high-CBD strains are less common. But CBD has recently started to draw attention from the medical community, who seem to prefer CBD over THC. Here, we explain the differences between these two compounds.
1) The High
THC is probably best known for being the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. CBD, however, is non-psychoactive. In other words, CBD can’t get you high. While disappointing to recreational users, this unique feature of CBD is what makes it so appealing as a medicine.
Doctors usually prefer treatments with minimal side effects, which has been a major barrier to the acceptance of medical marijuana. Likewise, CBD has been used to treat younger children with various ailments.
THC is known to cause some people to feel anxious or paranoid. But CBD is believed to have the opposite effect. In fact, studies show that CBD works to counteract the anxiety caused by ingesting THC. A number of studies also suggest that CBD can reduce anxiety when administered on its own.
In addition to being non-psychoactive, CBD seems to have antipsychotic properties. Researchers believe that CBD may protect marijuana users from getting too high by reducing the psychosis-like effects of THC. However, regulating the mind-altering activity of THC isn’t all that CBD is good for. On its own, CBD is being tested as an antipsychotic medicine for people with schizophrenia.
One of the most common uses of marijuana is as a sleep aid. THC is believed to be responsible for most of marijuana’s sleep-inducing effects. On the other hand, studies suggest CBD acts to promote wakefulness, making CBD a poor choice as a sleep medicine. The opposite effects of CBD and THC on sleep may explain why some strains of cannabis cause users to feel drowsy while others are known to boost energy.
5) Legal Status
While most countries have strict laws surrounding marijuana and THC, the legal status of CBD is less clear. In the United States, CBD is technically illegal since it is classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law. A pharmaceutical form of CBD, called Epidiolex, was only recently cleared by the FDA to be tested in children with severe epilepsy.
On the other hand, CBD is found in hemp, which can be legally imported and sold in the U.S. Some companies have taken advantage of this loophole by importing high-CBD hemp extracts from other countries where hemp is produced.