Hemp vs Marijuana
Hemp is a term used to describe the male portion of the plant, cannabis. Hemp is not just a plant. It can be used to create a wide variety of products including paper, clothing, textiles, animal feed, plastic, and food products. For a substance to be labeled as hemp, it must contain under 0.3% dry weight THC by volume. The compounds found in the hemp plant are useful for a variety of things. Since it is classified as a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids needed for proper body functions, hemp is beneficial for one’s health and overall well-being. Another added benefit of the hemp plant is that it grows faster than any shrub or tree, making it an extremely sustainable resource.
Marijuana is a term used to describe the female cannabis plant. For a substance to be classified as marijuana it must contain over 0.3% dry weight of THC by volume. There are many benefits when it comes to using marijuana medicinally since it acts as a pain reliever as well as a muscle relaxant. The body’s natural system for taking in the cannabinoids found in cannabis, such as CBD or THC, is called the endocannabinoid system.
Hemp and marijuana are both part of the same plant species. CBD can be derived from both stages of the plant. Hemp is the male part of the plant while marijuana is the female part. Marijuana is delineated from hemp by the dry weight volume of THC in the plant, with a threshold of 0.3% for hemp.
2.History of Hemp
Hemp made its way to the global stage in 8000 BCE as it was identified in modern-day Taiwan. Since hemp was discovered so early on, it is considered to be one of the oldest and first crops. Spread throughout the world by human cultivation, hemp was commonly used for paper and textiles(Rätsch,2001). Its medicinal properties were adopted by Chinese healing mechanisms in the ancient “Book of Songs” formally known as the Shijing(Rätsch,2001). Hemp is also known to be beneficial to surrounding vegetation, providing various nutrients to the soil (Rätsch,2001). However, as the twentieth century approached it brought about some challenges concerning the hemp industry. After the Mexican Revolution, the term Marijuana started to receive a poor reputation due to the widespread antisemitism towards immigrants in the United States. Growing tensions surrounding the plant caused the Marijuana Tax Act to be set in place in 1937(O’Connell,2020). This act placed a specific tax on every form of cannabis sales including that of hemp. This deliberately slowed the production and cultivation of hemp as a whole. Fast forward to 1942 when the infamous Henry Ford creates a prototype of a car body out of industrial hemp(O’Connell,2020). The hemp proved to be ten times stronger than traditional steel due to the length of the stem stalks. Hemp stalks prove to be longer than wool or cotton making them much more durable and long-lasting(O’Connell,2020). As World War II intensified and the sources of hemp used for making textiles and other important goods were seized by the Japanese. This pushed the United States Government to educate farmers on the uses of hemp and to once again begin cultivating their own. In support of proving hemp’s uses, a promotional video called “Victory for Hemp” was released to the public in 1942 that explained the need for this prevailing plant especially when it came to the making of ropes and textiles(O’Connell,2020). Even though hemp itself provides so much more to the world than THC, otherwise known as the psychoactive component in cannabis, it still holds some negative connotations. In 1970 the United States Government signed and passed the Controlled Substance Act which classified hemp as a schedule one drug. This meant that cannabis was now looked at the same way as methamphetamine and heroin, classified as highly addictive with no medical use whatsoever(O’Connell,2020). This was such a huge setback for the hemp plant which had just helped pull America through the war. Up until the point of 1998, hemp wasn’t even allowed to be added to food. The oil and seeds are not psychoactive and contain high levels of protein and amino acids which classify them as complete protein. Thankfully in 2014 under the Obama administration, the Farm Bill was signed and put into place. This bill was a step in the right direction for hemp since it allowed establishments of higher education to start studying and growing hemp while also providing a clear definition for industrial hemp. After this, the Farm Bill was signed into act by Former President Donald Trump during his 2018 administration. This bill specifically legalized hemp and any compound therefore derived from hemp itself, removing hemp from the controlled substance act altogether in conjunction with its derivatives. Since this time individual states have started to pass recreational and medical marijuana laws however the federal government still considers marijiana to be a schedule one substance.
3.The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Discovered in 1992 by Lumir Hanis, the endocannabinoid system gives us a better understanding of how the body works and why it functions in specific ways. It is broken down into three major parts: the endocannabinoids themselves, the phytocannabinoids found within the plant, and the CB1 and CB2 receptors found within the body.
Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring within the body and help to keep it in balanced homeostasis. The most prevalent endocannabinoids are called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (aka 2-AG). The ECS produces endocannabinoids freely within the body as a natural response to injury or pain. The second component is phytocannabinoids, which are compounds found within the cannabis plant itself, that can be isolated on their own, or combined to produce a more well-rounded effect. Common examples of phytocannabinoids are CBD, CBG, CBN, and THC.
CB1 receptors are found mainly in the central nervous system and can target specific imbalances in the body including appetite, immune cells, pain perception, short-term memory, and motor skills. When cannabinoids interact with these receptors, relief from certain ailments becomes possible.
CB2 receptors are found mainly in adipose fat tissue, bones, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, the central nervous system, the respiratory system, the reproductive system as well as the eyes, kidneys, pancreas, and liver. Since cannabis itself is said to be antimicrobial, it’s also a great pathogen fighter which is crucial when preventing and treating infections or diseases.
There are two types of endocannabinoids found within the body. The first is Anandamide. Anandamide or ANA is a neurotransmitter found most abundantly in the brain. Specific to the memory and motor function sections of the brain, ANA also plays a major part when it comes to nerve cells making short-term connections. Low levels of ANA have been linked to depression and anxiety which is why CBD can be beneficial to those with mental health issues. Anandamide is also naturally found in apples and blackberries.
The second abundant endocannabinoid found in the body is 2- Arachiodonoylglycerol, otherwise known as 2-AG. This compound helps to regulate the central nervous system by binding primarily to the CB2 receptors which have very strong anti-inflammatory properties. A study completed in 2001 concluded that 2-AG is an effective neuroprotectant after trauma to the brain.
4. Understanding cannabinoids
There are at least 114 cannabinoids that can be found in the cannabis plant. As cannabis plants grow, they produce certain compounds at different ages. Each one of these compounds differs slightly and can be used together or separately to provide an array of effects. The most common is called cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD. While some may be more familiar with the term THC, there are a lot of other cannabinoids including CBG, CBN, and CBC that can be extremely beneficial in regulating the body’s homeostatic functions.
The naturally occurring phytocannabinoid called cannabidiol, or CBD, provides a variety of benefits due to its interaction with the Endocannabinoid system. After one introduces CBD into the body, it binds with the various CB1 and CB2 receptors located in all of the major systems of the body including respiratory, vascular, immune, and even the digestive system. CBD increases the levels of anandamide, as mentioned before, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for memory and thought. Since CBD binds to both receptors it can help to bring the body back to its natural state. It’s important to note that CBD is also a more powerful antioxidant than vitamins A, C, and E. Meaning it is extremely effective for protecting the body against aging as well as defending the body against harmful free radicals.
The next phytocannabinoid found in cannabis is called Cannabigerol or CBG. Cannabigerol is considered to be a precursor to cannabinoids. This means all the 112 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, start as CBGA or cannabigerol. This is why it is known as the stem cell of cannabis. According to the National Library of Medicine, CBG was also found to be a neuroprotectant in mice since it promotes neurogenesis (the formation of new nerve cells). Cannabigerol is also an effective treatment for fighting any type of gastrointestinal issues due to its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to bind with CB2 receptors which specialize in gut and immune health.
Another phytocannabinoid called Cannabinol, or CBN, is known to be an effective sleep aid as well as an anticonvulsant. CBN is formed through the degradation of the delta-9 THC molecule and is known as the sleepy cannabinoid. Anticonvulsants are extremely beneficial in regulating hyperactivity in the brain. CBN has also been shown to help those struggling with post-operative pain, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is even more effective when used in combination with THC to enhance the entourage effect. CBN was also tested on strains of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as MRSA. The test concluded CBN was more effective in attacking the bacterium than certain antibiotics.
The next cannabinoid is called cannabichromene or CBC. This compound does not bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, instead, it binds to the vanilloid receptor 1 otherwise known as TRPV1, and the ankyrin 1 receptor or for short, TRPA1. These two receptors are both linked to pain receptors, making CBC the perfect candidate for pain management. Studies have also shown CBC being used to reduce acne and aid in regulatory gut functions as well as relief from neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s.
The next phytocannabinoid is called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This cannabinoid is quite different from the other cannabinoids. THC binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and is the cannabinoid that is known to make users feel high. There are many reported health benefits to consume THC, including but not limited to pain reduction, increase in appetite, and decreased anxiety.
It is important to note the chemical structure and the difference between △9-THC (“traditional THC) and △8-THC.
In recent years, △8-THC has become not only popular but more widely available for consumption. △8-THC is an analog to its more famous sibling, △9-THC, the active component in marijuana that is known to make users feel “high.” The only difference between the two is the placement of the double bond in the molecule, however, this difference significantly impacts the molecule’s ability to interact with CB1 receptors. The binding affinity for △8-THC is about 50-75% less than that of △9-THC, making it equally less potent than its counterpart. Users may still experience a light high from △8-THC products, and consuming △8-THC products could result later in a positive drug test. △8-THC is great for helping users get to sleep and stimulating appetite, and it was found in a study conducted in Jerusalem (make sure this is correct) by a man named Robert Mecholam (also make sure this is correct) that △8-THC was even better at stimulating appetite than △9-THC.
The composition of an isolated solution is similar to how the word sounds. Isolates are simply isolated from the entire substance. Isolation is the process of extracting only one compound from a group of many. For example, vitamin C is not the only compound that makes up an orange. There are other compounds such as fibers and sugars in the orange, however, if we wanted only vitamin C, we would extract it out and purify it. When we talk about administering CBD into the body, it can come in many forms. Isolates contain only one cannabinoid, this can either be CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC, etc. and means there are no other cannabinoids in the mixture. Any of the cannabinoids can be isolated down through the extraction process which involves decarboxylation (the process of heating a substance) to retain specific compounds. Isolates are a great option for anyone looking to use CBD but who does not want any other trace cannabinoids such as CBG or THC.
5b. Broad Spectrum
The composition of a broad spectrum mixture is made up of a wider variety of cannabinoids. Unlike the isolated mixture, the broad spectrum solution contains two or more cannabinoids. Often, this means CBD plus one or two other cannabinoids such as CBG or CBN. Broad-spectrum extractions do not contain the THC cannabinoid
5c. Full spectrum
The composition of a full spectrum product is also quite similar to how it sounds. It is a full-plant extraction – meaning it will contain all the cannabinoids, as well as the THC cannabinoid under the legal limit of 0.3%. This complete mixture tends to be more beneficial because of its entourage effect. This means that since all the cannabinoids are kept together within the solution, which allows the effect of each to compound on each other, providing a wider variety of benefits.
6.Methods of Consumption
There are a couple of different ways in which a person can use and take CBD oil. Depending upon lifestyle, and personal preference, experimenting with different methods will help one find their best fit.
One of the most common methods of consumption is smoking, or inhaling CBD. Since the veins in our lungs are the fastest-acting veins in our bodies, we can feel the relief from inhaling CBD almost instantaneously. With that being said, smoking or vaporizing is the fastest way to deliver CBD to your system. Some enjoy the ritualistic aspect of breaking up and rolling hemp flower while others prefer the sleek and discreet look and feel of a concentrated vape pen. While there are downsides and benefits to both, smoking or vaping CBD is a popular administration method.
The second most common method of consumption is through an oral sublingual. The cannabis oil is infused into a carrier oil such as coconut or MCT oil. The cannabinoid(s) are mixed with the oil which can be measured out by the user based on personal dosage. To use, one would place the oil underneath the tongue and hold for 30 to 60 seconds allowing it to be absorbed into the sublingual veins. Since our sublingual veins are the second fastest-acting veins in our bodies, effects are typically felt within 30 to 45 minutes.
The next common method of consumption is ingesting CBD. The reactivity time ranges from 60 to 120 minutes depending upon the user’s metabolism, among other factors. The effects typically last longer when it comes to edibles because the properties must break down and be processed through the liver. Ingestibles are a great option for those looking for a more deep restful sleep since the effects continue to be produced throughout the night as the product breaks down. Some bioavailability is lost to the digestive system through this method of consumption.
The last method of consumption is a topical solution. These are great for those struggling with muscular and joint pain and inflammation, as well as eczema, acne, and other skin issues. Topicals are not as long-lasting and only work locally. However, when pairing a topical with any method of ingestible CBD, the effects span across the endocannabinoid system within the body, further reducing inflammation both internally and externally.