CBD vs. THC – The Differences Explained
As cannabidiol and marijuana become legal across the country, it can be confusing for consumers to know which one gets you high and which one helps your wellness. CBD is a derivative of the hemp or cannabis Sativa plants, though legal CBD comes from specific parts of the hemp. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana responsible for the euphoria and munchies of a “high”.
While each plant-based derivative has benefits for the human body, the high you get from THC is what keeps marijuana illegal in many states. Though there is such a thing as medical marijuana, which helps with pain and nausea while reducing the euphoria, it is not legal everywhere.
Hemp, however, is an industrial plant that is not only used for CBD extraction. It can be used to make clothing, bags, shoes, rope, and even sunscreen. CBD is just one of many products that industrial hemp is good for making. Let’s start by looking at the differences between hemp and marijuana.
Cannabis sativa is the plant that both hemp and marijuana come from. What makes the difference is what parts of the plant the oils are derived from versus the parts of the plant that make up marijuana. Generally speaking, CBD is extracted from the root and stalk of the hemp, while marijuana uses all parts of the plant, including the seeds and flowers.
There are also various strains of the plant that can be grown: Amnesia Haze, Sour Diesel, Strawberry Cough, Jake Herer, Tangie, Super Lemon Haze, and Maui Wowie are just a few of the strains with psychoactive properties. Each strain has a different level of THC in it.
The refining process for each component is different. The process for CBD is about extracting and refining the oils that aid the endocannabinoid system in the body (which regulates homeostasis); the process for THC (which is a cannabinoid, by the way) is about gathering as much THC as possible to create the greatest high.
There are various methods used to extract CBD oil from hemp plants. The first step is to bring the oils out through the process of using a solvent like CO2 or ethanol. The plant stalk and root are soaked in the solvent. Then, the plants are removed and the resultant liquid drained. This reduces the risk of any THC getting into the CBD oils. Then, the oils are filtered and distilled. Once the oils are relatively clear, with very little color, they are checked for purity. Any oils that are contaminated are either filtered and distilled again or disposed of.
The process for extracting THC is similar; however, all parts of the plant are exposed to the solvent. This ensures that all of the cannabidiols, including THC, will be part of the final product. The filtering and distilling process is also similar in creating oil-based THC products.
Of course, there is still the old fashioned way of making marijuana with hash – basically, the cannabis pods are broken up and the psychoactive ingredients fall through a sieve. This has can then be used in marijuana cigarettes or in edibles.
The prices for CBD versus prices for THC are quite different. High dose CBD oils (30mg – 100mg doses) can run from $49 per bottle all the way up to $400 per bottle. Obviously, the more CBD content per dose, the higher the price. However, you can get low dose of CBD oils for as little as $19 a bottle.
THC can cost upwards of $100 per ounce. A 4-ounce bottle of CBD syrup can be around $150. Of course, prices will vary by state, by retailer, and by manufacturer. The purer the product, the higher the price will be. And you should always check for quality when purchasing either CBD or THC products. Contaminated products can be dangerous if consumed or smoked.
While the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 made CBD legal (as long as it was 0.3% or less of THC content), the legality of the substance is left to the states. So, if you purchase and use CBD legally in Indiana, you cannot even possess it in Nebraska.
Some states do still consider CBD a Schedule 1 narcotic and you can be arrested for possession or intent to distribute if you don’t know the laws of the states you are visiting. THC products are only legal in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Michigan, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Alaska.
Prior to purchasing or using either CBD or THC products, make sure you know the difference between the two, how they are processed, and whether or not the substances are legal in your state.