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What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?

Written on June 24, 2021
What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?

In Colorado, marijuana has been legal for both medical and recreational purposes for quite some time. And while there is no shortage of dispensaries offering psychoactive marijuana products, grocery stores, coffee shops, pharmacies and even pet stories also offer products containing Cannabidiol (CBD), and it can be easy to confuse the difference. So what is CBD, and how is it different than marijuana? And what is the difference between CBD and THC, anyway?

Cannabidiol (CBD), Explained

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent compound found in cannabis. It can be derived from either hemp or marijuana, though is most often forced from hemp. CBD is often considered non-psychoactive, though that may vary depending on how much THC it contains. The less THC it contains, the less likely it is to make you feel “high.” CBD is used to treat a wide array of physical and mental ailments, such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, arthritis, epilepsy, glaucoma, IBS, movement disorders, inflammation, and migraines, among others. Both CBD and THC mimic endocannabinoids, a neurotransmitter in the brain.

So, what’s THC?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC releases dopamine a neurotransmitter, thereby signaling a reward system in the brain and creating a feeling of wellbeing. Other common experiences under the effects of TCH include increased appetite, increased sensory perception, feelings of relaxation, and altered sense of time. Some potential side effects of THC include anxiety, paranoia, depression, memory loss, decreased cognitive function, and in some cases, psychosis. Products with THC include various forms of marijuana thats can be smoked, vaped, or orally consumed.

Can I Take CBD if I am in Recovery?

This is a complicated question, one which depends on how you define recovery and sobriety for yourself. CBD derived from hemp may have very little trace amounts of THC, not enough to feel “high” from, though will still likely show up on a drug screening. This is one reason many treatment programs do not allow CBD use. It can also be difficult to gauge how much THC is in a CBD product; by using CBD, you may be inadvertently ingesting more THC that you want to. Research has shown that up to 70% of CBD products are mislabeled and contain more THC than suggested. This is largely due to a lack of regulation in the cannabis industry. It is also important to note the legality of all cannabis products, including CBD. While both CBD and THC are legal in Colorado, they remain illegal on a federal level. It may be harder to separate CBD products containing larger amounts of THC from the rest in Colorado because of marijuana’s legality.

To understand if CBD can fit into your recovery, it is crucial to continue to honestly investigate your motivation for, and relationship to, its use. Are you using it because it alters your mood in some way? Do you feel mentally different when using it? Are there other ways of managing your physical ailments that don’t carry the risks of possible THC ingestion? These questions are important to ask when using any medicine, whether herbal or pharmaceutical, that can have psychoactive effects on your brain and you are trying to maintain sobriety. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, which is why mindfulness and awareness of your personal process can be crucial in guiding the health decisions best for you.