Two cannabinoids working together to heal the world. One with a marred reputation, the other relatively unknown.
These two cannabinoids are responsible for the vast majority of the benefits we ascribe to medical marijuana and CBD oil. We can't forget about the terpenes either, but THC and CBD are the main event. Few people knowingly pick a strain for the terpenes, but many people want to know the potency of the THC or the THC:CBD ratio. If you pick a strain based on the smell, you're actually picking it based on the terpenes.
Not to digress too far, THC and it's lesser-known companion are similar but also have some important differences.
The Big Diff
The difference that most people care about is their respective psychoactive traits. While this is the biggest difference, it's not the only difference. As you probably know, THC is awesomely psychoactive. It can put people in a relaxed euphoric state that we like to call high. Describing what it feels like to be high is actually pretty hard. The first time I got high I said it felt like I was getting a full body massage by a bunch of tiny masseuses. My whole body was tingling and it was a hard feeling to put to words. That feeling is because of THC.
CBD, on the other hand, will not contribute to such a feeling. It does not have psychoactive properties and will not have you stuck on the couch in a blissful state. To make matters more interesting, studies suggest that it actually could have an anti-psychotic effect (1). What this means is that CBD could actually work against the psychoactive nature of THC to lessen your high, anxiety, and paranoia. Some users have even reported snapping out of their high after taking a few puffs of a CBD vape pen or eating an edible.
Due to it's anti-psychoactive properties, CBD is becoming a common tool in a recreational smoker's toolbox. It's not something a rec user will use often, but it's gaining traction as a remedy for those paranoia episodes. In my circle, the remedy for that used to be a car ride. I like the idea of using CBD a lot better than going for a chill cruise. I've never gotten paranoid from weed, but I've seen it happen to people I was smoking or eating edibles with several times. It's not a fun experience.
The anti-psychotic effects of CBD is one of the main reasons that breeders have cultivated low CBD genetics. Recreational users prefer the psychoactive effects of THC to the anti-psychotic effects of CBD. For medical patients it's entirely different. Strains intended for medical consumption are often selectively bred to have high CBD levels. These high levels of CBD would piss a recreational user off, leaving them claiming that the weed was low-grade or schwag. While not getting super high doesn't mean the weed was bad, it does if your only purpose for smoking is to get high. Hence the low CBD high THC breeding that's become the standard of sorts.
Some of the other differences between THC and CBD are not as much of a concern to most people. Generally, people want to know about the psychoactive affects and if they can pass a drug test with CBD.
With a lot of THC in your system, you're pretty much guranteed to fail a drug test. There are some things you can do to cheat a drug test, but barring that you're bound to fail. The THC is stored in your stubborn fat and can take a while to make its way out of your system. No matter what you do, it's going to take time to flush it out. For occasional users it can be cleared in under two weeks, but for heavy users it will likely take around a month to clear. There have been a few cases where it's taken longer than a month, but that's uncommon.
With hemp-derived CBD products, you'll be able to pass the vast majority of drug tests. It does have trace levels of THC in it, so you could fail a zero tolerance test although they're not very common at all. The most sensitive tests are around 20ng/mL, but plenty are less sensitive than that. If you use an extreme amount of CBD, it's possible to fail a drug test. If you're just using something like 50mg/day, it's highly unlikely that you'd fail.
From my personal experience with THC and CBD, they differ in tis category. THC, especially sativa strains, gives me the munchees like you wouldn't believe. Amounts of food that would usually make my stomach hurt seem to go down without a problem. I have eaten so much that my I felt like it was going to come back up. I immediately went to sleep to avoid what seemed inevitable. It worked. I didn't throw up and felt great the next day.
CBD does nothing for my appetite. No matter how much I have, I don't feel any hungrier or more satiated. I have not read anything saying it increases appetite, so I think it's safe to say it doesn't affect appetite like THC does.
Growing marijuana or hemp are both became federally illegal under the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 (2). As usual, this law was vague, and classified hemp under the term “marihuana.” We know hemp is not marijuana, but apparently the people we elected to tell us what we can and can't do know better than us. Hemp was still grown in the US after the law, because the government needed it for its fiber. Eventually they phased it out and started enforcing the vague Maijuana Tax Act more harshly for hemp as well.
The tax act was seen as unconstitutional by many, which lead to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 effectively replacing it. It classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, putting it in the same category as LSD, ecstasy, and heroin (3). This classification purports marijuana to be more dangerous than Schedule II substances like hydrocodone, methadone, and oxycodone. While these classifications are laughable, it's no laughing matter because it's destroyed thousands of lives and costs tax payers trillions of dollars.
All this to say, THC is still illegal by federal law. Any form of marijuana is illegal. Importing hemp, somehow is legal but growing it is not. As long as your CBD products are derived from hemp, they're legal. If they're derived from marijuana, they're not legal and can land you in the slammer. But if you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, then it's kind of legal but still illegal federally. It's a bit confusing, but the trend seems to be moving toward legalization.
What did I miss?
I'm sure there are more differences that are slipping my mind right now. If you can think of one, comment below and I'll add it to the list.