Cannabis has been a controversial plant for centuries. Few subjects stir up stronger emotions among policymakers, the clergy, scientists, researchers, and the general public than marijuana. Is it medicinal? Is it safe? Is it addictive? What makes marijuana the “wonder drug” that many people claim it is?
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When does the wonder around cannabis turn into science? The answer to this question is complex. Let us look at some basic facts, shall we? Cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids are the active compounds found in the cannabis plant. Our bodies can also naturally synthesize cannabinoid compounds that we refer to as endocannabinoids. The body has multiple cannabinoid receptors. There are receptors in the nervous system, the respiratory system, the digestive system, and the circulatory systems. Cannabinoid receptors are also found in our cartilage.
A commonly researched receptor is the CB1 receptor. You have plenty of CB1 receptors in your brain. The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are abundant in the immune system. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are spread out across the body. Collectively, these receptors make the endocannabinoid system.
There are over 100 naturally-derived cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most widely known cannabinoids found in cannabis.
CBD vs. THC: Chemical Structure
THC and CBD share a similar molecular structure. Both compounds have 30 hydrogen, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The arrangement of the atoms accounts for the difference between CBD and THC. The difference in the arrangement of atoms causes each cannabinoid to exert a different effect on the body.
THC and CBD are also chemically similar to your body’s endocannabinoids. The chemical similarity allows CBD and THC to interact with cannabinoid receptors.
The interaction between cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors affect the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters are chemically responsible for the relaying of messages between cells. This communication plays a role in pain and its relief, immune responses, stress, and sleep.
THC vs. CBD: Psychoactive Components
Despite sharing a similar chemical structure, CBD and THC exert different psychoactive effects. THC causes the high that we associate with marijuana use. CBD medical marijuana, on the other hand, alleviates symptoms of anxiety, depression, and seizures.
THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain to give a sense of euphoria. Cannabidiol weakly binds (if at all) to CB1 receptors. To help with this interaction, CBD needs tetrahydrocannabinol. In this association, cannabidiol helps to reduce some of the unpleasant psychoactive effects of THC like euphoria and sedation.
THC vs. CBD: Legality
In the US, the cannabis-related legislature is regularly evolving. Technically, under federal law, CBD is classified as a Schedule I drug. As of the time of writing, Hemp was removed from the controlled substances act, but the FDA and DEA still classify cannabidiol as a Schedule I drug.
However, Washington, D.C. plus 33 states have passed the cannabis-related legislature, making medical cannabis with high THC levels legal in these jurisdictions. However, you may need a prescription by a licensed physician in some states.
Some states allow for the recreational use of marijuana. In these states, you can buy CBD products without any restrictions. Before you get excited about purchasing CBD and its products, you must conduct some research about the legality of medical marijuana in your state.
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THC vs. CBD: Medical Benefits
THC and CBD have their medical benefits. Both compounds can exert relief for similar conditions; however, cannabidiol does not have a strong psychoactive effect as tetrahydrocannabinol. Since CBD does not give its users euphoria, some people prefer using it over THC.
In 2018, the FDA approved the first prescription medication to contain CBD in Epidiolex. The use of this drug is mainly in the treatment of rare forms of epilepsy.
CBD is helpful in the alleviation of symptoms of:
- Psychosis or mental disorders
THC is useful in the alleviation of symptoms of:
- Muscle spasticity
- Lack of appetite
THC vs. CBD: Side Effects
Among a large majority of the population, even in large doses, CBD is well tolerated. Research claims that most side effect involving CBD is the result of drug-to-drug interactions between other medication and the cannabinoid.
TCH may cause temporary side effects like:
- Increased heart rates
- Coordination problems
- Red eyes
- Dryness of the mouth
- Slower reaction times
- Memory loss
CBD may cause side effects like:
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss
Neither THC nor CBD is fatal. Adolescents that consume a large amount of THC suffer the risk of long-term negative psychiatric effects. Even though cannabis causes disorders like schizophrenia, there is no conclusive evidence that proves the negative effects of THC in adolescents.
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So, What Makes Marijuana a Medicine?
Cannabis is a cocktail of over 100 different cannabinoids. Cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol are the most chemically important cannabinol in marijuana. Both THC and CBD give cannabis its medical properties. Both compounds are safe, but you have to watch out for possible side effects.
Before you purchase CBD or its products from any mmj dispensary, consult with a qualified doctor or cannabis clinician. Call MMJ Doctor today and book an appointment. Our licensed doctors will guide you.