Today’s mainstream media is absolutely obsessed with CBD and marijuana. From constant updates about recreational marijuana legalization, to breakthroughs involving medical marijuana, to the emergence of an entire sector of public companies, pot has become the new "green rush". But, with all the chatter about cannabis going on these days, it’s important to make some distinctions—particularly when it comes to CBD, another hot topic.
CBD is NOT marijuana…but the two are definitely related. Both come from the Cannabis sativa L. plant. But Marijuana—what one might affectionately refer to as reefer, herb, ganja, Mary Jane or dope, among thousands of other euphemisms, makes you high.
Marijuana is specifically cultivated to increase the amount of psychoactive THC in the plant, which creates a hallucinogenic effect know as "getting high". The cannabis sativa plant actually has hundreds of cannabinoids, each interacting with the body in a different way. This is where CBD comes in—like THC, it’s another cannabinoid. But, unlike THC, it doesn’t get you high. Instead, it has well-documented properties that include calming day to day anxiety, relaxing mood, helping people fall and stay asleep, and much more. As a result, it’s now being isolated from other cannabinoids to be used for a wide range of applications—everything from relaxation gummy bears to the active ingredient in pharmaceutical drug trials.
There are a lot of terms surrounding cannabis that aren’t generally understood by people unfamiliar with the culture. And, since cannabis has been widely prohibited since the 1920s and a Schedule I drug since 1970, it’s no surprise people are having a hard time wrapping their brains around the nomenclature!
People are familiar with what marijuana is: the leafy green plant that stoners across the world have adopted as their official symbolism. And most people are familiar with THC, since the crusade to keep marijuana illegal is largely based around the “chilling effects” of THC on the body. But beyond these terms, there’s not a lot people are familiar with. Introducing terms like ‘cannabinoid’ and other abbreviations like CBD is a recipe for confusion.
Understanding what Cannabis is
The good news about cannabis being such a mainstream topic these days is that it’s shedding light on more and more of the nuances involved with this intriguing phytocannabinoid. People are hearing terms like ‘CBD’ more often, alongside news that qualifies it. For example, recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of a drug derived from synthetic cannabidiol (CBD) for treating childhood epilepsy. Slowly, the general public will become more familiar and comfortable with this term, loosely associating it with marijuana, but recognizing it as something else.
CBD infused products and dietary supplements
There’s another emerging trend that will help the general public get familiar with CBD terminology quickly: consumer products. You’re not likely to see ‘marijuana gummies’ hitting the retail anytime soon—instead it’ll be CBD-infused gummies or dietary supplements. The same goes for a slew of other products that will bring CBD into the spotlight. Packaging regulation is bound to support this as the industry becomes clearer. And, as more products come to market, awareness will expand and CBD will become recognized in its own right.
Get your terms straight
You don’t have to be a user to understand the difference between marijuana and CBD. It’s all about knowing the difference between a plant and a chemical. To recap:
Marijuana is a slang term for a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, specifically cultivated to increase the amount of THC.
THC is a chemical (cannabinoid) in marijuana that gets you high thanks to its psychotropic properties.
CBD is another chemical (phytocannabinoid) in marijuana, but it doesn’t get you high and instead, offers other therapeutic effects.
Being able to make these distinctions will help you understand where the cannabis industry is headed and what’s going on when it comes to some of the groundbreaking stories you’re hearing about in the news.