CBD and THC are two of the best known compounds found in the cannabis plant. Although they are both cannabinoids (and are just two of the more than 100 cannabinoids in the plant), they have different effects on the body and are used for different purposes. Understanding the differences between CBD and THC should be important for anyone interested in exploring all the potential benefits of cannabis.
What is THC?
THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. It produces the 'high' sensation associated with cannabis use and has been used recreationally for thousands of years. THC binds directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which produces its psychoactive effects, and is thought to have a number of potential therapeutic benefits, such as reducing pain and inflammation, improving sleep and reducing anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to have appetite-stimulating properties, which may be beneficial for patients undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from wasting syndrome.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant; this means it does not produce the feeling of euphoria. CBD has gained popularity in recent years and is now available in a wide range of products, including oils, capsules and creams. It is thought to have a number of potential therapeutic benefits, such as reducing inflammation, relieving pain and reducing anxiety and depression, and has also been shown to have neuroprotective properties: some studies have suggested it may have potential as a treatment for conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.
Another significant difference between CBD and THC is how they interact with our bodies. While THC binds directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which produces the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis use, CBD does not bind directly to these receptors. Instead, it appears to interact with a number of other receptors and signalling pathways in the body, including serotonin and vanilloid receptors. This could be important when it comes to cannabis tolerance and dependence, which occurs when THC saturates the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our brains that are also used by our body's own endocannabinoids. It is believed that CBD does not affect the receptors in the same way and so does not produce physical addiction or dependence - and I want to emphasise "physical dependence" because psychological dependence is something else, and humans can develop the latter for almost any substance or habit we periodically engage in that has an impact on our mood or lifestyle. If you want to know more about dependence and tolerance, check out this article here.
In terms of the potential side effects of CBD and THC, there are also some key differences to consider. CBD is generally considered to be safe and well tolerated, and while it can cause side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness and changes in appetite or weight loss, that is generally all there is in terms of side effects. THC, on the other hand, can cause a wider range of side effects, including dry mouth, red eyes, impaired coordination and increased heart rate, and in some cases of larger doses, it can also produce anxiety, paranoia and temporary hallucinations. It is important to note that these situations are related to the size of the dose, but also to the psychological condition of the person or the influences of their mood and experience with the substance.
Finally, the last difference between CBD and THC is their legal status. While CBD is legal in many countries around the world, including the United States, THC is still illegal in many places. This is due to the fact that THC is psychoactive and that alone carries a whole load of prejudice based on conservative thinking, such as people becoming violent under the effects of marijuana, and some other racist based beliefs. If you want to know more about how marijuana was made illegal, check out this article here. In the United States, for example, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical use.
However, there are many exceptions to this. Although some US states have legalised marijuana for many years, it was Uruguay that was the first country to re-legalise cannabis use at the national level (after its worldwide prohibition in the early 1900s).
Every year, more and more countries legalise THC products, even if they are subject to strict regulations and are only available by prescription or through licensed dispensaries. In the case of marijuana in Spain, and especially in Barcelona, marijuana consumption is fortunately decriminalised. Thanks to that, we can obtain cannabis products legally from cannabis associations and weed clubs with ease, simply by requesting an invitation and becoming a member of one of them.
In conclusion, there are many differences between CBD and THC, even though they are both cannabinoids found in the same cannabis plant, starting with the fact that they have different effects on the body and are used for different purposes. They can be consumed together or separately, depending on what the consumer wants, so if you want to explore the different options of cannabis products containing CBD and/or THC, you should take a look at the menu of your cannabis club. The dispensaries here in Barcelona have a wide variety of products with different percentages of mixed CBD and THC, or just one of the two. I am sure that, among all of them, everyone will be able to find the right product that suits their needs as a consumer.