Based on what we’ve seen above, we can answer the question by saying that CBD and THC are so different that it’s difficult to compare them directly. But while THC can be abused as a drug, CBD is safe and has no recreational applications. In fact, many misinformed people, along with many recreational marijuana users, often brand CBD as “useless” because it cannot get them “high.”
Since industrial hemp is naturally rich in CBD and has been bred to have only trace amounts of THC, many people today are turning to industrial hemp products as an alternative to medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is not legal in all states in the US and many countries worldwide, while products made from industrial hemp can be a safe and legal alternative. You can get many of the same beneficial effects of medical marijuana from industrial hemp products without getting “high.”
In September 2018, following its approval by the FDA for rare types of childhood epilepsy, Epidiolex was rescheduled (by the Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule V drug to allow for its prescription use. This allows GW Pharmaceuticals to sell Epidiolex, but it does not apply broadly and all other CBD-containing products remain Schedule I drugs. Epidiolex still requires rescheduling in some states before it can be prescribed in those states.
Various strains of "medical marijuana" are found to have a significant variation in the ratios of CBD-to-THC, and are known to contain other non-psychotropic cannabinoids. Any psychoactive marijuana, regardless of its CBD content, is derived from the flower (or bud) of the genus Cannabis. As defined by U.S. federal law, non-psychoactive hemp (also commonly-termed industrial hemp), regardless of its CBD content, is any part of the cannabis plant, whether growing or not, containing a ∆-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry-weight basis. Certain standards are required for legal growing, cultivating, and producing the hemp plant. The Colorado Industrial Hemp Program registers growers of industrial hemp and samples crops to verify that the dry-weight THC concentration does not exceed 0.3%.
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Industrial hemp is produced by strains of Cannabis sativa that have been cultivated to produce minimal levels of THC and are instead artificially selected and bred to grow taller and sturdier. This is done to enable the plant to be used effectively in the production of hemp oil, wax, resin, hemp seed food, animal feed, fuel, cloth, rope, and more. Industrial hemp is exclusively made from Cannabis sativa.
^ Klein C, Karanges E, Spiro A, Wong A, Spencer J, Huynh T, Gunasekaran N, Karl T, Long LE, Huang XF, Liu K, Arnold JC, McGregor IS (November 2011). "Cannabidiol potentiates Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) behavioural effects and alters THC pharmacokinetics during acute and chronic treatment in adolescent rats". Psychopharmacology. 218 (2): 443–457. doi:10.1007/s00213-011-2342-0. PMID 21667074.
Hemp-producing cannabis has tall, fibrous stalks that are very strong and have very few flowering buds. On the other hand, marijuana strains are short, bushy, and have high amounts of THC. In fact, industrial hemp and medical marijuana are so distinctively different that most lay people wouldn’t be able to tell that they belong to the same genus of plants if they encountered them in the wild!
Some manufacturers ship CBD products nationally, an illegal action which the FDA did not enforce in 2018, with CBD remaining the subject of an FDA investigational new drug evaluation, and is not considered legal as a dietary supplement or food ingredient as of December 2018. Federal illegality has made it difficult historically to conduct research on CBD. CBD is openly sold in head shops and health food stores in some states where such sales have not been explicitly legalized.
Drugs.com provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include IBM Watson Micromedex (updated 1 Aug 2019), Cerner Multum™ (updated 1 Aug 2019), Wolters Kluwer™ (updated 31 July 2019) and others.
In nature, Cannabis ruderalis typically has the lowest levels of THC, Cannabis sativa has a higher level of THC than it has CBD, and Cannabis indica has a higher level of CBD than it has THC. However, since man has been cultivating cannabis (and especially Cannabis sativa) for thousands of years, the effects of artificial selections have led to several different types of cannabis even within the same species, depending on the purpose the cannabis was cultivated for.
However, when cannabinoids are taken externally, it’s difficult to distinguish between the clinically desirable effects and the therapeutically undesirable effects of various phytocannabinoids. This is because cannabinoid receptors send a variety of signals that often interconnect to coordinate the body’s functions, so it’s hard to tell them apart.
Cannabidiol can be taken into the body in multiple ways, including by inhalation of cannabis smoke or vapor, as an aerosol spray into the cheek, and by mouth. It may be supplied as CBD oil containing only CBD as the active ingredient (no included tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] or terpenes), a full-plant CBD-dominant hemp extract oil, capsules, dried cannabis, or as a prescription liquid solution. CBD does not have the same psychoactivity as THC, and may change the effects of THC on the body if both are present. As of 2018, the mechanism of action for its biological effects has not been determined.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a potent, non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp oil. It is typically extracted from industrial hemp plants that are naturally high in CBD and other phytochemicals. It is the most prevalent of over 80 different cannabinoids found in natural hemp. It is commonly used for its therapeutic properties. Cannabidiol is responsible for a wide-range of positive health benefits through its interaction with the body's own endocannabinoid system.