The next big thing in marijuana won’t get you high
Recently, at the end of a surf trip with several friends, my pal Tim passed me a pipe packed with sticky green buds. I’m not much of a social smoker (more of a one-hitter-before-chores type) so politely declined.
Then, he made an odd promise, for a guy brandishing a glass pipe and a lighter: “It won’t get you stoned,” he said. “It’s CBD.”
I took a little hit, and soon after, felt my body pleasantly melt into a lawn chair, my ability to socialize not at all impeded. Truth told, at the end of a physically exhausting vacation and a can of Tecate, I was already pretty relaxed. But the CBD seemed to deepen that state.
CBD is one of the many chemical compounds in a class called “cannabinoids” that naturally occur in cannabis plants. While THC is the most famous of cannabinoids for its ability to get us high, CBD is a rapidly rising star for its capacity to deliver mental and physical benefits without the giggles, paranoia, or couch-lock. Eaze, a marijuana delivery service that operates in California, reported an “exceptionally high” demand for CBD in 2017, which led the company to quadruple its product offerings in the category. Chris Kelly, a representative of Tikun Olam, an Israeli company at the forefront of medical marijuana, calls Avidekel—his employer’s highest-CBD strain—the “golden child” of its offerings. Rolling Stone deemed it one of the five best strains of 2017.
In addition to that good old “melting into a lawn chair” feeling, CBD’s reported benefits include relief from anxiety, joint pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, menstrual cramps, insomnia, nausea, seizures, bowel inflammation, and plain old moodiness. Today, adults in more than half of US states (and 16 countries worldwide) have legal access to marijuana for medical purposes, and it’s been legalized for recreational use in nine states, plus Washington, DC. As marijuana continues its march into the mainstream, CBD has emerged as an easy entryway for those who want to dip a toe into the wellness benefits of weed, but may be skeptical of getting stoned.
You can use it as a rub, or as a soak inside the tub
In the months since that first hit, I’ve tried out CBD in many forms. I’ve dropped tinctures under my tongue to help me sleep, whipped Whoopi and Maya’s CBD-enhanced raw cacao butter into hot milk to ease cramps (yes, that’s Whoopi as in Goldberg), and massaged Lord Jones’ piney scented CBD lotion into a stiff neck.
As with marijuana, the modes of consuming CBD are limited only by one’s imagination. Curious gourmands can sip it in a CBD-laced “Stoney Negroni” at the West Hollywood restaurant Gracias Madre, and aesthetes can rub it onto their lips via rose-scented balm. For a more traditional medicinal experience, CBD also comes in soft gel capsules, droppers, and sublingual sprays. (In more than 20 countries outside the US, one such spray is prescribed to multiple sclerosis patients who suffer from muscle spasms and stiffness.) And of course, since CBD is derived from the flowers of cannabis plants, one could just go ahead and smoke a high-CBD strain of marijuana the old-fashioned way, by rolling it into a joint or lighting up a bowl—or the new-fangled way, by vaping distilled cannabinoid oils in a Dosist vape pen that vibrates to alert the user they’ve reached the recommended dose.
How CBD works
Yu-Fung Lin, an associate professor of physiology and membrane biology at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, teaches a course on the physiology of cannabis. She says although CBD is not considered to be psychotropic—meaning it won’t alter our perception of reality or produce a feeling of euphoria—it’s still working on our brains. CBD doesn’t activate our brains’ cannabinoid receptors in the same manner as THC, but it does target a wide variety of proteins in the brain and nervous system that regulate cell activities all over the human body. By interacting with the brain’s signaling systems in various ways, it can provide relief from pain, anxiety, and nausea. Beyond our brains, says Lin, CBD may benefit our bones and immune systems and work broadly throughout the body as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, which may help protect cells from damages associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
With these sorts of benefits, it’s little wonder that there’s a booming market for CBD—and readily willing suppliers promising miraculous results.
“CBD can be used to relieve multiple symptoms,” says Lin. “But you need to know what you are getting.”
To THC or not to THC
CBD products made from industrial hemp, which contains almost no THC (less than 0.3% in the US), are legal in all 50 US states. While many users report benefits of hemp-derived CBD—not the least of which is legality—some experts say a little THC helps CBD work in the body; that cannabis’ chemical compounds work better in tandem than in isolation.
This is often called the “entourage effect,” or as Lester Grinspoon, a psychiatrist and professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School calls it, the “ensemble effect.” (Like so much of the research surrounding cannabis, which is heavy on anecdotal evidence and light on hard science due to marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug, the entourage effect is the source of healthy debate.)
“It’s a mixture of CBD, cannabidiol, THC, and the phytochemicals, the terpenoids,” Grinspoon tells High Times. “You need all three of them to get the best therapeutic effect.” For this reason, Grinspoon, Lin, and many others say that the best source for therapeutic CBD is a plant with all of its cannabinoids intact.
For the layperson with legal access to cannabis, the easiest of way of doing that is to visit a trustworthy dispensary, where you can ask for products derived from plants that have a high CBD-to-THC ratio. The aforementioned Avidekel, for example, is about 18:1. You can also ask for lab results that show the exact breakdown of a plant’s chemical compounds.
Like most medicines, CBD will have a different effect on everyone who uses it, so the best way to find out what works is simply to try it. Research shows minimal side effects, though some users have reported drowsiness and an upset stomach. Personally, I’ve once felt perhaps a little too relaxed after drinking a 20:1 CBD-enhanced hot cocoa to relieve excruciating cramps. But you know what? My muscles relaxed too.
CBD VS THC: Complete Guide And Recommended Products
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Discover's Top CBD Products This Year
A few years ago, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, which legalized hemp-derived CBD products on a federal level. The passage of this bill opened the door for CBD manufacturers to bring their product to market. As consumer demand for CBD products has continued to grow, supply has steadily kept up.
One of the biggest misunderstandings that people have when buying these products is that CBD and THC are the same. While they are both cannabinoids and both naturally occur in the cannabis and hemp plants, there are some profound differences to know about the two.
Here’s what you need to know about CBD vs. THC, along with a list of CBD products that we highly recommend.
CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive Side Effects
CBD and THC have the same molecular structure, with 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The only difference is how the atoms are arranged, which causes the different side effects that the two cannabinoids offer.
Despite being almost the same on a molecular level, CBD and THC have very different psychoactive effects. CBD has no psychoactive effects, while THC does.
THC binds with endocannabinoid receptors, especially CB1 in the brain. This produces a sense of euphoria, known as a high. It can also cause confusion and anxiety in some.
On the other hand, CBD has a very weak bind on the CB1 receptors. In fact, in order for CBD to bind to them, it needs THC to be present. When the two cannabinoids are together, they work together.
CBD reduces the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC, which provides for a calmer, more relaxing experience. This is why CBD is well-known for its therapeutic benefits, including relief from stress and anxiety, better sleep, and a balanced mood.
CBD vs. THC: The Benefits
CBD and THC offer many of the same benefits. The biggest difference is that CBD doesn’t cause users to get high, as they will when using THC. Many people prefer to use CBD simply because it doesn’t have psychoactive effects.
CBD has shown promise in offering a variety of therapeutic benefits, including relief from:
Pain and inflammation
Stress and anxiety
Inability to focus
THC can also be used to offer similar relief from pain, nausea, anxiety, muscle spasticity, and low appetite.
There is one FDA approved prescription medication that contains CBD, called Epidiolex. The drug treats rare, hard-to-control forms of epilepsy. However, it’s the only FDA approved drug to date.
Side Effects of CBD vs. THC
CBD very rarely causes adverse side effects, especially when used properly. CBD is well-tolerated, even in large doses. More often than not, any side effects that people experience when using CBD is due to drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and another medication.
Some of the most commonly reported side effects of CBD include dizziness, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and appetite changes. These side effects can often be managed by reducing the dose or figuring out which medication the cannabinoid is negatively interacting with.
On the other hand, THC carries a risk of all sorts of side effects, including:
Increased heart rate
Slowed reaction times
Neither CBD or THC post life-threatening side effects. However, if used for a long period of time, THC may cause long-term negative psychiatric effects, especially in adolescents.
Legality of CBD vs. THC
Cannabis-related laws continue to evolve, especially as the evidence in using marijuana for medicinal purposes continues to grow. Technically, CBD is a Schedule I drug under federal law. However, hemp, the source of CBD, has been removed from the Controlled Substances Act.
However, CBD products are legal under the 2018 Farm Bill Act, assuming they meet the set criteria in the bill. For example, products must:
Contain no more than 0.3% THC
Must adhere to shared state-federal regulations
Must be grown by a licensed grower
While CBD products are legal federally, several states have their own laws which restrict the selling, possession, and use of CBD products. It’s important to be aware of which local laws may apply to you.
On the federal level, marijuana is still a Schedule I substance, which means that it is illegal. However, dozens of states, including Washington D.C., have statewide cannabis laws, including ones that legalize medical cannabis. These products must be prescribed by a licensed physician in order to be legal. Other states have also legalized recreational use of cannabis and THC.
Drug Testing: CBD vs. THC
When cannabinoids are ingested, they are stored in the body’s fat. This means that there is the risk that the compounds can show up on a drug test for several days, possibly weeks, after using them.
While not all drug tests are designed to detect CBD, there are CBD-sensitive tests that can be used. The standard drug tests look for THC-related chemicals, so it’s all but certain that marijuana use, which contains high levels of THC, will show up on a screening.
On the other hand, hemp can also produce some THC, albeit in very low doses. It’s possible that someone who uses CBD products could test positive for THC.
When buying CBD products, pay close attention to the type of extract that is used. If you’re routinely drug tested, it’s crucial to only buy products made with CBD isolate or broad spectrum extract. These two forms contain no THC and shouldn’t cause you to fail a drug test.
Best CBD Products
Now that you know the ins and outs of CBD vs. THC, let’s discuss the top five CBD brands that create top of the line products.
Penguin is another brand that’s dedicated to providing people products that help them to live a more balanced, chill life. The brand is best known for their delicious CBD oils, which are available in yummy flavors such as Cookies & Cream, Strawberry, and Citrus.
Penguin also has a full line of other products, including CBD gummy worms, capsules, and even topical products.
All products are tested by a third party lab and use the highest quality THC-free CBD extracts. Penguin products are made with broad spectrum extract of CBD isolate, which means you don’t have to worry about being exposed to THC.
2. Verma Farms
Verma Farms is best-known for its Hawaii-inspired CBD gummies, but the brand has also created an extensive line of other products. Verma Farms not only offers delicious CBD-infused bites, but also CBD oil, tinctures, capsules, and even dried fruit! There is even a collection of topical products to ease aches and pains in the hands and feet.
The brand is committed to using only the highest quality ingredients, including nano-emulsified broad spectrum CBD that is extracted from hemp grown throughout the United States. Verma Farms products are thoroughly tested for potency, quality, and safety, so that users have the best experience possible, every time.
3. BATCH CBD
We all could use a little more balance in life, especially when it comes to prioritizing our health and holistic wellness. That's where BATCH CBD comes in. With superior product quality and a personalized approach to customer service, BATCH CBD truly stands out amongst the crowd.
BATCH has gained national attention for their impressive collection of full-spectrum CBD products, including CBD oil tinctures, gummies, soft gels, and balms. Customers of BATCH enjoy the fullest range of therapeutic benefits that CBD products can provide. That’s because BATCH’s CBD is exclusively derived from the highest quality of organic Wisconsin hemp and is extracted through their proprietary in-house methods.
From seed to shelf, BATCH CBD is carefully selected, processed, and packaged to deliver you the ultimate CBD experience.
4. R+R Medicinals
R+R Medicinals is one of the fastest growing CBD brands in the United States, and has finally brought what everyone has been looking for: USDA Organic, reasonably priced, high performance products. Their employee and veteran-owned company truly has the customer at heart – there is always a live person there to answer questions or help any customer with questions! They’re truly doing it right in a sea of other brands.
What we love about R+R Medicinals
R+R Medicinals CBD caught our #2 spot as it clearly shows they are doing the right things to create customer confidence and loyalty to their brand. All full-battery COAs are available on their site, where many other brands only post potency results. It’s a lot of info, but you can really get down to see their safety with no detected pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and more.
20% off your first purchase with code: RRWORKS20 , 15% off all subscriptions!
If you’re searching for a CBD brand with super high quality products and fair pricing, look no further than FOCL CBD . FOCL is a premium CBD brand based out of Los Angeles and Denver. The team at FOCL (short for Focus) is passionate about wellness and obsessed with producing plant-based products that actually work.
Formulated with plant-powered wellness in mind, FOCL was born out of the idea that everyone deserves to feel better. And FOCL has done just that, using only the highest quality ingredients straight from Mother Nature. FOCL also uses organic and sustainable practices and has their products third party tested, so you can always feel good about where your CBD is coming from.
With a full line of Broad spectrum CBD oils, gummies, topical relief cream, and unique wellness formulas , FOCL has got all of your wellness needs covered.
6. five CBD + THC
five offers the strongest and most affordable full spectrum CBD oil, capsules, and gummies on the market. Their award-winning gummies are the best that we tried. What makes five different is you get pure, undiluted hemp extract with an industry-leading 5:1 ratio of CBD to THC and other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes. With up to 6x the minor cannabinoids of other brands, you’ll be sure to feel the five difference. Try five to see why they are the fastest growing CBD company in the industry!