As more states move to legalize medicinal and recreational use of cannabis, and as Federal law adjusts to shifting perceptions of the plant, cannabis products are becoming more common. The 2018 farm bill legalized industrial hemp cultivation, which made CBD (or cannabidiol) legal in every state, while 10 states, as of 2019, have legalized recreational marijuana, and 33 permit medicinal marijuana.
While these breakthroughs are great for consumers and cultivators alike, they can also be confusing. What's the difference between hemp and marijuana? Aren't they the same thing? It's true that they're both varietals of the same plant—cannabis sativa—but there's one crucial distinction that sets them apart: their concentration of tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC.
What Is THC?
THC is a naturally occurring compound found mainly in the flowers of some cannabis plants. It interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the human brain and can produce certain psychoactive effects, such as time distortion, impaired concentration and coordination, and feelings of euphoria.
That is, THC is what gets a person “high” when they consume marijuana, and it's the reason many people used it even as it was (and in many places still is) prohibited by law. Nonetheless, THC has some health benefits beyond its psychoactive properties.
But while users worldwide—illicit or legal—enjoy marijuana for both its psychoactive and physiological effects, many prefer to avoid the “high” it produces, which can also include disorientation, paranoia, and memory loss. This is where the availability of CBD becomes crucial.
What Is CBD?
CBD is the other major compound found in the cannabis plant. On the molecular level, it is nearly identical to THC. The result is that CBD provides all the benefits of the cannabis plant without inducing the psychoactive effects associated with THC.
CBD is typically derived from industrial hemp, which has a concentration of .03% or less of THC. In addition to promoting digestive health and general well-being, it has been shown to be effective in restoring balance and promoting general well-being.
CBD vs THC: Which Should You Choose?
With these distinctions in mind, one might be wondering, which product is right for me? The answer boils down primarily to two concerns: effects and legality.
Though many people enjoy the psychoactive effects of THC, others find it disorienting and unpleasant. CBD provides many of the benefits of THC, without the intoxicating effects that can get in the way of daily tasks.
And though THC is legal in some states, it's still illicit or restricted in most, and illegal under federal law. Hemp-derived CBD, on the other hand, is legal nationwide (with some restrictions that vary from state to state) and readily available.
Unlike CBD isolate, Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil is a whole-plant extract containing CBD and an array of other cannabinoids (including trace amounts of THC that work in concert with the other cannabinoids, terpenes, etc.) to produce a more pronounced effect on your general well-being.
Each compound has its benefits. Choosing which to use will depend on your circumstances and preferences.