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CBD and THC – what’s the difference and why there is a place for both

Today, the cannabis industry is a very different creature to that of a decade ago. No longer does it conjure up images of illicit deals in dark alleys. The cannabis sellers of 2020 are major online retailers and the health food chains that we see on every high street. 

There are two major drivers for the increased public interest in cannabis products, and they involve two different cannabinoids. The first is cannabidiol, better known as CBD, while the second is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The two compounds are both very similar at the molecular level to the body’s endocannabinoid system, meaning they can interact with certain receptors in the brain. 

How they do so, however, is subtly different. You don’t need a degree in chemistry to get to grips with how they fit into today’s cannabis industry, so let’s get into the details. 

CBD takes the world by storm

Take a surf around a dozen or so lifestyle websites and you could be forgiven for thinking that CBD is the saviour of mankind. Some of its proponents can get carried away when espousing its qualities, but there is plenty of solid scientific research behind the hype. 

If you want to learn about CBD there are hundreds of online resources. To keep things very simple, this cannabinoid is not psychotropic, but it does influence our mental state in subtle ways. By triggering serotonin, it has a relaxing effect, in much the same way as a foot massage or a soak in a hot bath. 

CBD also acts as an anti-inflammatory and has pain-relieving qualities. Add to that the fact that it is rich in antioxidants, and you begin to see why it can help with so many everyday maladies. These include anxiety, headaches, bruising, arthritis, acne, eczema and menstrual pain to name just a few. 

The THC dilemma 

THC essentially has all the same qualities as CBD, but with two important caveats. The first is that the effects are generally stronger. The second is that THC is psychotropic, meaning that it also comes with all the usual effects associated with smoking a marijuana joint. These might include euphoria, uncontrollable laughter, disorientation or the dreaded “couch lock” where you are completely incapacitated and can only sit and watch the world go by till the effect wears off. 

THC remains a controlled substance in much of the world, but the situation is changing. The complication is that THC has two very different applications. In the medical sense, it can prove highly effective for those suffering debilitating conditions, with MS being a prime example. However, there is also a huge market for recreational cannabis containing THC.  

An evolving marketplace

With CBD for all, medical marijuana for those in need and good old fashioned weed for stoners, the cannabis sector is in an interesting place. The market is evolving, and will continue to do so as the world watches the US, where legalization is gradually spreading from state to state. One thing is certain, the cannabis industry is set to grow, and all its niches will provide plenty of business opportunities in the years ahead.   

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