This article was originally published on The Green Fund and appears here with permission.
A new report from the University of Michigan Health has uncovered that startlingly few parents understand CBD in a meaningful way. Over one-third believe that CBD and marijuana are essentially the same — which is a dangerous mindset considering the remarkably different health benefits and risks of these different compounds.
It is imperative that everyone with exposure to the world of weed understands the difference between psychoactive cannabis and CBD products — and how to use either option safely and effectively. If you know someone confused by CBD and weed, here is how to enlighten them without offending them.
CBD Is in Weed
Before you tackle the differences between marijuana the stigmatized drug and CBD the trendy health-boosting compound, it is important that you address the fact that CBD does come from the cannabis plant. You can explain that CBD belongs to a class of compounds called cannabinoids that are completely unique to cannabis, so when users consume marijuana to get high, they are in fact consuming some CBD. CBD is the second-most plentiful cannabinoid within cannabis plants, while THC, a compound that causes psychoactive effects, is the most dominant.
However, just because CBD is found in psychoactive cannabis plants does not mean that CBD is identical to recreational (or medical) weed. Different varieties of cannabis plant — called "strains" by regular users — will have different levels of CBD within them. While there are strains that have little to no CBD, there are also strains that have little to no THC. Most CBD products are created from the latter type of cannabis plant, which is also sometimes called hemp and is legal to farm in most of the United States. Though CBD might come from cannabis, it usually does not come from the same plants used to create the products found in cannabis dispensaries and provisioning centers.
Types of CBD and How They Differ From Regular Weed
There are three types of CBD products that users can purchase:
Full-spectrum CBD. These CBD products are not heavily refined and typically contain trace amounts of THC as well as other cannabis compounds — though they will not get users high. Some users believe that cannabis compounds are more effective when used in their natural concentrations, a concept called the entourage effect. If used frequently, full-spectrum CBD products might result in a positive marijuana drug test.
Broad-spectrum CBD. These CBD products are refined to remove THC, though other cannabis compounds can remain in addition to CBD. This can provide some of the benefits of the entourage effect without any risk of contamination from THC.
CBD isolate. Heavily refined, these CBD products contain only CBD. It is possible to buy pure CBD isolate in the form of crystals or powders, but most CBD isolate is mixed into more easily consumed products, like oils and edibles.
CBD products can take many forms, from oils and tinctures to vape cartridges to topicals like lotions and balms to edibles and more. Likewise, cannabis that contains THC is equally malleable. The primary difference between CBD products and cannabis products that contain THC is that CBD products will not get users high. Even the trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum CBD is not enough to generate the psychoactive effects famously associated with weed. Thus, CBD users can achieve many of the health benefits of cannabis without impairing their ability to think and move.
Why Does CBD Matter?
When you are finally able to convince someone that CBD is a distinct type of weed product from psychoactive marijuana, you are likely to encounter a final question: Why? If CBD does not make users high, why does anyone bother to use it?
Though CBD was one of the first cannabinoids discovered, it has taken nearly a century for researchers to begin studying its effects. Only recently has science uncovered that CBD could be a remarkably powerful medical tool with a wide variety of applications. Already, CBD has been integrated into a medication for the treatment of childhood epilepsy, and ongoing studies are looking into the compound's effectiveness at treating myriad other health concerns, from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to chronic pain conditions to mental health disorders like anxiety and PTSD.
The study that identified widespread confusion about CBD concerned parents with children in the hospital. By clarifying the truth about CBD, you can help parents make better health decisions for themselves and the little ones in their charge.