CBD oil, like cannabis as a whole, has quite a few misconceptions flying around it. This is primarily due to a lack of education on things like cannabinoids or how the human endocannabinoid system works: While backed by decades of research, public discourse is slow to catch up. Here are five of the most common myths and misconceptions about CBD oil.
Myth #1: CBD Oil Cures X, Y or Z
It’s really important to state that while there is significant research about the health benefits of CBD, it’s irresponsible to claim it as a “cure” for any one illness or concern. CBD oil is a dietary supplement that does have therapeutic benefits for a variety of concerns and illnesses, but “curing” something is entirely different.
Though research has indicated that CBD has a multitude of health benefits, it’s different from claiming a cure. Calling CBD oil a “cure” could take advantage of patients desperate to find a solution to difficult illnesses, harming rather than helping. Distinguishing something as a medicine is also incredibly complex; involving rigorous research, development of a medicine that targets something specific, and approval by scientists and governments.
The various benefits of CBD oil, such as pain and anxiety relief, also don’t really fit into the definition of a cure: they’re more therapy or maintenance than an indefinite “cure”. Until such a time as research determines otherwise, CBD oil is necessarily classed as a dietary supplement; a distinction that is important for both legal and moralistic reasons. While the potentials of CBD oil are exciting, it’s important not to mislead people into thinking it could “fix” an illness.
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Myth #2: CBD Oil is Psychoactive
False! Many people believe that everything derived from cannabis plants is psychoactive; this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The cannabinoid that’s responsible for psychoactive effects – as well as the paranoia that can come with the high, but also pain relief, a boost in appetite, better sleep, and more – is THC.
The endocannabinoid system, a vast series of receptors in the nervous system that help balance various functions of the body, is regulated “in-house”, so to speak, by endocannabinoids, compounds made and distributed by the body. Phytocannabinoids, which are found naturally in the cannabis plant, operate within that system and can unlock a vast array of effects, which are still being explored and better understood. One thing that is clearly understood is that CBD is entirely non-psychoactive. This is in part why doctors and researchers are so interested in the health and therapeutic benefits of CBD as an alternative for people who can’t or would prefer not to experience the psychoactive effects that come with THC.
Myth #3: CBD Oil Comes Only From the Same Plants as THC
The cannabis family is more varied than one would expect at first blush. Most commonly discussed are Indica and Sativa – Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa – as well as hybrids of the two, though their differences are often misunderstood. Another lesser-known species (or potentially subspecies, botanists are undecided) is Cannabis Ruderalis, though it is less important to this discussion. The distinctions between Indica and Sativa primarily have to do with where the plants originated, how they look and the sorts of effects they have. What’s important to remember here is that in the same way all breeds of dog are one species, all strains of C. Indica and C. Sativa are one species, but can be vastly different.
Both C. Sativa and C. Indica can have THC, and therefore psychoactive effects, but not all C. Sativa contain large enough amounts of THC for much effect, if any. Industrial hemp – Cannabis Sativa L – has almost no THC and therefore no psychoactive effect, but is still rich in CBD. The plant distinction between what most CBD hemp oils are derived from and the plants used for medical and recreational marijuana is an important one, when it comes to understanding the fundamental differences between the two.
Myth #4: CBD Oil is Medical Marijuana
While medical-grade CBD oil is available in some countries and states with medical marijuana programs and the cannabinoid itself is an important part of medical marijuana, there is significant difference between CBD oil and medical marijuana (MMJ).
First and foremost, most CBD or hemp oils available on the market are made from different species of cannabis plant than medical marijuana: MMJ is produced from the unpollinated female flowers of certain cannabis plants, while CBD oil is produced from industrial hemp. While not all medical marijuana is strongly psychoactive – some strains are bred specifically to be higher in CBD and lower in THC – CBD oil that is produced outside of the scope of medical marijuana contains only the smallest amounts of THC and cannot produce any psychoactive effect.
Medical marijuana is also strictly regulated and controlled, with each locality enforcing their own specific laws about what conditions are qualified for treatment, what methods of consumption are acceptable and how infrastructure must be carefully organized for tracking and selling product. Since CBD oil isn’t psychoactive, it isn’t included in such regulation and can be commonly bought over the counter or online, without needing a prescription or signing up for any special programs.
Myth #5: CBD Oil is Illegal
Since CBD oil isn’t psychoactive, can come from different plants and isn’t medical marijuana, it’s not illegal. The legal grey area of CBD oil in some parts of the world is mostly because of these common misconceptions and the stigma against hemp and cannabis plants.
Most states and countries will have specific regulations for what makes a CBD oil different from other cannabis derivatives and therefore CBD varies in legality: usually, the oil needs to contain less than a certain percentage of THC (often a fraction of one percent) and needs to come from industrial hemp plants, or Cannabis Sativa L.
Picking apart these misconceptions and educating yourself on them is an important part of understanding CBD, why and how it functions, and its place in the conversation about cannabis and people’s everyday lives.