Of the many naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis plants, two are of particular interest to researchers. These are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). These two molecules are of great interest to the medical community; many of whom are calling for further research into its possible uses.
One point that needs mentioning from the get-go is that although CBD and THC can be derived from the same plant, the two cannabinoids are very different. Simply put, CBD doesn’t make you high, while THC does.
Cannabis, Marijuana and hemp
There is much confusion as to the differences between marijuana and hemp. Not only are they visually similar in appearance, but both hemp and marijuana are part of the cannabis family. Indeed, both hemp and marijuana strains can be derived from the same species of cannabis, namely cannabis sativa.
For the purpose of this article, references made to marijuana will include strains of cannabis which yield high levels of THC. Conversely, references to hemp will relate to cannabis strains which produce more of the CBD compound and very low amounts of THC that are scarcely detectable.
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CBD versus THC
Proponents of medical marijuana want to see high THC cannabis being made available, but the research community regards CBD as a less controversial molecule because of its lack of psychoactive effects. Side effects of THC ingestion often include impaired motor-coordination, a dryness of the mouth and/or a redness of the eyes. Some patients report feelings of paranoia and heart palpitations.
In addition, medicating children with THC is very controversial, not only because of the ‘high’ but also because it may have a negative effect on the developing brain. The North Coaster reports that many of the properties attributed to THC are believed to be present in CBD.
The report looks back at the long history of Cannabis as a medication, even citing a list of ailments for which hemp was believed to hold a cure as listed in a 19th century American pharmacopeia.