CBD and THC affect different receptors in the brain. Because of this, CBD typically does not have psychoactive effects—in other words, it won't cause you to get high.
Marijuana itself can have a number of short-term and long-term adverse effects, including impaired short-term memory, altered judgment, and impaired coordination. Research also suggests that marijuana can alter brain development and may lead to cognitive impairment.
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Psychoactive (produces a high)
CBD products are marketed around the idea that they “can’t get you high”. This, after all, contributes to why they are on the accepted side of the law. And it’s true. You won’t experience a stereotypical high. But such jargon perpetuates the idea that “getting high” is shameful. To some patients, THC, or other psychotropic cannabinoids, are necessary compounds in their medicine.
In the UK, consumption of cannabis – and cultivation, production and distribution that is unlicensed for non-medical or non-industrial purposes – is still illegal, subject to a warning or a fine of £90. Penalties for possession and supply production range from five to 14 years in jail, unlimited fines or both.
But in November 2018, the UK government legalised medical cannabis, marking the opening of its legal, regulated market. This followed news that Billy Caldwell, a young boy with severe epilepsy, was hospitalised after his cannabis medications were confiscated in June 2018. The process of reform was expedited after the UK public called the morality of the government into question.
The CBD market
Throughout my research into the legal cannabis market, I have observed how the commercialisation of the CBD market has created a misleading dichotomy of “bad” THC versus “good” CBD. Media commentary about CBD invariably discusses THC as a worse “option” – as if there were only two options.
Despite legalisation, patient access remains restricted – the few hundred people who have obtained medicines have primarily done so through private healthcare. In this context, the fact that the UK has historically been the world’s largest exporter of medical cannabis is something of a surprise. This paradox cuts to the heart of many of the trends across the global cannabis market.
Out of the 400 plus chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, CBD and THC are only the most well-known, and researched, cannabinoids. Both are psychoactive substances. But, THC is psychotropic, and CBD is non-psychotropic.
Psychoactive effects are a daily experience to most. No matter how you take your coffee, know that it includes a dose of psychoactivity. Morning caffeine jitters and post “coffee highs” are such symptomatic effects. Chocolate lovers will have also experienced psychoactive effects, such as improved mood, stress reduction, and focus.
Exactly how the cannabis was consumed mattered, too. About 20 percent of patients who reported that they were vaping their medical cannabis had no detectable levels of THC or CBD metabolites in their urine samples. This suggests that some vaping devices may not heat cannabis products sufficiently for patients to even inhale the active ingredients.
“People are buying products they think are THC-free but in fact contain a significant amount of THC,” said Jodi M. Gilman, the paper’s lead author and an investigator in the Center for Addiction Medicine in MGH’s Department of Psychiatry. “One patient reported that she took a product she thought only contained CBD, and then when driving home that day she felt intoxicated, disoriented and very scared.”
In fact, the contents of these products can vary considerably from distributors’ claims, according to the study, published in JAMA Network Open . This is particularly important when THC, the metabolite responsible for the “high” cannabis provides, is present in medical cannabis products labeled to be CBD only.
By Malorye Branca MGH News and Public Affairs
We don’t need a civil war to be in serious trouble
As more states legalize cannabis sales, demand has increased. However, there is little consistency in product regulation or labeling, unlike the strict regulation of medicines purchased through a pharmacy. As a result, labeling is often not accurately informing patients of the content of the cannabis-derived products they buy.
The psychoactive metabolite in cannabis is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabis products containing THC are federally banned, but states have been passing laws legalizing these products. This has in turn led to a patchwork of laws that have varied impacts on guaranteeing that consumers get what they expect. Cannabidiol (CBD) does not come under FDA regulation.
The results showed no CBD in about a third of the urine samples from patients who said they were using cannabis products that were CBD-dominant or had roughly equal parts CBD and THC. THC was detected in almost 80 percent of those samples, including among patients who thought they were only receiving CBD.
‘Schools should not close’
Medical cannabis products are not always what they seem, according to a new study led by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
In this study, researchers analyzed urine samples from nearly 100 patients enrolled in a clinical trial of the effect of medical cannabis for anxiety, depression, pain or insomnia. The purpose of the study was to see if these products were delivering the ingredients patients expected.