THC vs. CBD – What’s the Difference?!?
It is a seemingly basic question, but one we are often receiving now with the introduction of our new line of CBD-infused sparkling beverages: what are the primary differences between THC and CBD, the cannabinoid compounds used in Sprig? How does each affect your body? Why is one available only in states that have legalized marijuana while the other is available nationwide? Well, as with a lot of things in cannabis world, the answers are not necessarily clear or straightforward. But in this post we will try to shed some light and provide clarity for anyone asking these common questions.
My Chemical Romance
First, the essential basics of THC and CBD and their similarities. THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (short for cannabidiol) are both natural chemical compounds found in cannabis, the family of plants that includes marijuana and hemp. In fact, THC and CBD are just two of over 113 different compounds scientists have identified in cannabis, all of which are known as cannabinoids. Both THC and CBD are thought to interact with the body through what researchers call the endocannabinoid system.
Unless you are a molecular biologist or medical researcher (which, if you are, welcome, we love you, and please do not hesitate to include Sprig in your next research project!), all you need to know here is that this is where THC and CBD diverge. Due to differences in their molecular structures, THC and CBD interact with the body’s chemical receptors in different ways. The most obvious result of this divergence are the effects commonly associated with each, namely that doses of THC are known to be psychoactive and doses of CBD are not. But, of course, there is much more to this story than that.
To Get High or … Not to Get High?
THC is the cannabinoid that is responsible for the euphoric (and psychoactive) feeling that results from consuming marijuana, which is the cannabis plant known to contain high amounts of THC. Aside from euphoria, the other observed effects of THC on the body include pain relief, stimulation of appetite (the munchies!), muscle relaxation, and as a sleep aid.
CBD, on the other hand, has been observed by some researchers to counter the effects of THC in various ways and is typically found in higher amounts in hemp. While much more study is needed, and the FDA has officially declared the medical uses of CBD (and THC) as unproven, some people use CBD as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and anti-nausea treatment. As a result, CBD is a growing segment of the health and wellness market, not least because it can be produced, distributed, and consumed legally.
THC Fought the Law and the Law Won (For Now…)
The final difference between THC and CBD that we cover here is the legality of each in the United States. While the legal and regulatory landscape is rapidly changing, historically marijuana (and its related THC products) has been subject to a federal ban due to its listing in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. At the same time, twenty-nine states have legalized the medical use of marijuana and eight states and DC have fully legalized marijuana for recreational adult use. As you can see, the overall legality of THC is in flux.
In contrast, hemp (and its related CBD products) is not listed in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, hemp products (including our own delicious Sprig CBD infused beverages!) can be produced, distributed, and consumed legally at the federal (read: nationwide) level. Blurring the line a bit, however, is the fact that the federal government still prohibits the general cultivation of all cannabis plants (including hemp), although many American farmers take advantage of a special exception for hemp grown for medical research purposes.
So, what does this all mean? Well, essentially it means that a consumer must take into account the local laws of his or her state (and sometimes city) when determining which THC or CBD products can be purchased or consumed legally, while being aware that marijuana and all of its related products remain illegal at the federal level.
Phew, did you get all that? We hope we were a bit helpful in clearing up some of the confusion that surrounds this complicated (but fascinating) subject. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions regarding THC, CBD, or which Sprig beverage is right (or legal!) for you, or leave them in the comments below!