You may have heard about the health benefits of Cannabidiol (CBD) and medical marijuana, but not understand the differences between CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), or how the different cannabinoids within cannabis function. Due to decades of misinformation, you may not even appreciate the vast varieties of cannabis and the full potential of this most potent of plants.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a chemical compound known as a cannabinoid, and the second most abundant source in the hemp plant (about 40%), from which it is extracted and separated. The first most common source in hemp is THC, which is an intoxicant and is used recreationally around the world as an illegal drug. CBD and THC are NOT the same, although they both come from the same plant. You cannot get ‘high’ from CBD hemp (with low levels of THC) nor from CBD oil products (which contain no THC at all).
CBD is extracted from hemp and can be used as an oil, with a growing international body of science pointing to its nutritional and health benefits.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. It is a 21-carbon terpene phenolic compound which is formed following decarboxylation from a cannabidiolic acid precursor, although it can also be produced synthetically.
In experimental models of abuse liability, CBD appears to have little effect on conditioned place preference or intracranial self-stimulation. In an animal drug discrimination model, CBD failed to substitute for THC. In humans, CBD exhibits no results indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.
CBD has been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy in several clinical trials, with one pure CBD product (Epidiolex®) with completed Phase III trials and under current review for approval in the U.S. There is also preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for several other medical conditions.
There is the unsanctioned medical use of CBD based products with oils, supplements, gums, and high concentration extracts available online for the treatment of many ailments.
CBD is generally well tolerated with an excellent safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications. Several countries have modified their national controls to accommodate CBD as a medicinal product.
To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.
Single-dose administration of cannabidiol has been evaluated in healthy volunteers using a variety of tests of abuse potential as well as physiological effects in a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial.  An orally administered dose of 600mg of CBD did not differ from placebo on the scales of the Addiction Research Centre Inventory, a 16 item Visual Analogue Mood Scale, individual level of intoxication, or psychotic symptoms. In contrast, THC (10mg oral) administration was associated with subjective intoxication and euphoria as well as changes in ARCI scales reflecting sedation and hallucinogenic activity. THC also increased psychotic symptoms and anxiety. While THC increased heart rate, CBD had no physiological effects.
A randomized, double-blind, within-subject laboratory study was undertaken to assess the influence of CBD (0, 200, 400, 800mg, p.o.) pre-treatment on the effects of inactive (0.01% THC) and active (5.30–5.80% THC) smoked cannabis. Healthy cannabis smokers (n=31) completed eight outpatient sessions with CBD administered 90min before cannabis administration. Under placebo CBD conditions, active cannabis was self-administered by significantly more participants and produced significant, time-dependent increases in subjective ratings and heart rate relative to inactive marijuana.
CBD alone produced no significant psychoactive, cardiovascular, or other effects. Cannabis self-administration, individual results, and cannabis ratings did not vary as a function of CBD dose relative to placebo capsules. These findings suggest that oral CBD does not reduce the reinforcing, physiological, or positive subjective effects of smoked cannabis.