With the passing of the Agricultural Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the “2018 Farm Bill”, hemp and hemp-derived products, including hemp-derived CBD, were legalized. With this new legislation, there has been significant and growing interest in the use of CBD, THC, and other hemp and cannabis related products. Although both THC and CBD are legal in some states, only CBD derived from legally produced hemp plants containing less than 0.3% THC is considered federally legal in all 50 states. The Agricultural Act of 2018 applies explicitly to “hemp and hemp-derived products”. Therefore, regardless of its THC content, CBD derived from the marijuana plant remains under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This means that a CBD isolate derived from the marijuana plant and containing 0.0% THC is still illegal under the Farm Act, despite the fact that the CBD molecules are identical and the quantity of THC falls well below the 0.3% allowed for hemp derived CBD.
Both THC and CBD interact with the cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2 Receptors) making up the body’s endocannabinoid system. And, while both molecules may be very similar in structure and may be derived from the same or similar plants, their reactions differ dramatically.
THC interacts with the CB1 Receptor and is considered psychoactive, leaving users with the feeling of being high. CBD on the other hand can only interact with CB2 receptors, which are non-psychoactive. The most basic and immediate difference between THC and CBD is that THC will get you high, and CBD will not. However, when you go a little deeper, the differences between the two are a bit more complicated.
CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) are both constructed at the molecular level out of 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The two molecules are nearly identical; however, their one small difference is what allows them to have extremely different effects on the body. The difference between the two, is the arrangement of just one atom, and just one bond. Both of their structures resemble endocannabinoids produced naturally in the body which is what allows them to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which influences appetite, energy, and mood.*
There are two cannabinoid receptors in the body, named CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the parts of the brain that control mental processes such as memory, emotion, motor function, and high cognition. CB2 receptors are found throughout the central nervous system and immune system. CBD and THC are both able to bind with the CB2 receptor, however, only THC is able to bind with CB1 receptors which is what creates the sensation of being high. CBD cannot bind with CB1 receptors. Moreover, CBD’s presence with THC can negate the bond created between THC and the CB1 receptor, neutralizing its effect and preventing, or minimizing the “getting high” effect.
In general, THC interacts with the parts of your body which makes you feel high, CBD interacts with parts of your body that reduce inflammation and help to manage pain, anxiety, sleep loss, and stress, among others.*
CBD is present in fairly high concentrations in both hemp and marijuana plants, however, THC is present in much higher concentrations in the marijuana plant. And, although THC is present in some quantity in hemp plants it is very low compared to the concentration of CBD and usually below the 0.3% THC required by law. This allows for hemp and hemp derived products, such as CBD to be legal in all 50 states. And, despite being legal in some states, marijuana and marijuana derived CBD remain a Schedule 1 controlled substances.
While CBD and THC may come from the same or similar plants, they are very different substances, and have different effects on the body. CBD may help in some areas of health, such as its ability to help manage pain and inflammation. Moreover, CBD is non-psychoactive, and non-addictive.*
When purchasing CBD, be extremely careful when evaluating Hemp Oils with no mention of CBD. You will find these products all over Amazon. Look instead for high quality CBD that is properly labeled and contains the actual ingredient you wish to purchase. And, be sure to purchase directly from a reputable distributor or manufacturer so you can feel confident you are purchasing legally farmed and produced CBD.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.