58% Don't Know The Differences Between CBD & THC

Type the keyword “CBD” in your internet search bar and you’ll find a wealth of information on CBD. Search CBD on social media and you’ll find a whole lot on CBD as well. CBD is probably one of the most talked about and trending health and wellness topics in America since it was first introduced into the marketplace in 2018.

In 2021, one would think most Americans have by now a general understanding of what CBD is, including that CBD is not the same as THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) or marijuana. According to a March 2021 survey by Invisibly, a whopping 58% of participants said they did not know the difference between CBD and THC or CBD and marijuana.

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We understand how confusing the situation might be for some. All of our lives we have been schooled on saying ‘No to drugs” and how cannabis is not only illegal but unsafe and unhealthy. As both marijuana and hemp come from the Cannabis sativa plant, knowing the difference between them is new to most people.

In the United States, many states have adopted laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes only or for both medicinal and recreational use. Hemp, on the other hand, has been widely adopted as legal under both federal law and state laws.

Today, 36 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use while hemp is legalized on both the federal and state level. Consumers praise both hemp and marijuana for having varying therapeutic and medicinal properties. While scientific research and clinical studies are limited, numerous consumer surveys have reported what consumers are saying about CBD and how CBD impacted their quality of life.

Given CBD’s gained popularity in the last few years, it’s surprising to learn that 58% of Invisibly’s survey respondents don’t know how CBD is different than THC or marijuana.

Here, we address some basic differences between CBD and THC, including a few differences between hemp and marijuana.

What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, moleculeCBD is short for cannabidiol. CBD is one isolated cannabinoid of over 120 cannabinoids naturally occurring in the hemp plant and the marijuana plant.

CBD oil can be extracted from both the hemp plant and the marijuana plant.

CBD oil from hemp is extracted from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the hemp plant. The basic difference between a hemp plant and a marijuana plant is the amount of delta-9 THC (and under some state laws, delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC) each contains. 

To be legal, hemp plant-based products, including CBD oils, cannot contain more 0.3% delta-9 THC.

For hemp-derived delta-8 THC products, some states have started banning or moving to ban delta-8 THC because it, like delta-9 THC, produces some intoxicating effects. Such states include include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

CBD is different than THC in these 3 major ways:

1) CBD won’t get you high,

2) CBD has no potential for abuse, and

3) when CBD use is stopped, there are no withdrawal symptoms.

CBD is sold in various product types. The most popular types of CBD products are CBD oils and CBD oil drop tinctures, CBD edibles (most CBD gummies) CBD soft gels/capsules, CBD vapes, CBD beauty products, CBD relief creams, CBD beverages, and CBD pet products.

What is THC?

THC, short for tetrahydrocannabidiol, moleculeUnlike CBD, THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) induces euphoria, sedation and causes that oh so famous “high” feeling.

People tend to think of marijuana when they hear the word “cannabis” probably because it’s been commonly called that for ages. That’s understandable. Unlike the hemp plant, the marijuana plant is cultivated for a high concentration of delta-9 THC and, in some cases, for other THC derivatives.

For example one study examined 8,505 cannabis strains across 653 dispensaries. The study found that THC concentrations were as low as 5% and as high as 65%. Those amounts are significantly higher than 0.3% THC, which is considered to be a trace amount and inconsequential.

THC is different than CBD in these 3 major ways:

1)  THC can be addictive,

2)  THC has potential for abuse, and,

3)  Quitting THC can cause a user to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Some withdrawal symptoms of THC include loss of appetite, sleeping problems, irritability, chills, craving marijuana use, loss of focus.

In states that have legalized marijuana, THC is sold in various product types. The most popular types of THC products is a flower form (marijuana/weed), THC oils, THC vapes, THC edibles, and THC topical creams.

Drug Testing: CBD + THC

Two commonly asked questions about CBD and drug testing are:

1)  is CBD tested on a drug test?, and

2)  will I fail a drug test from using a CBD product?

Here, we answer both.

Is CBD Tested On A Drug test?  

No. CBD is not tested on a drug test because it is not intoxicating. Conversely, THC is tested on a drug test because it is intoxicating.

drug test cup and individual form on clipboard for drugs like THC

Will I Fail A Drug Test If I Use CBD? 

It depends. CBD alone will not trigger a positive drug test result.

If you use a hemp-derived CBD only product (like a CBD isolate) or a hemp-derived CBD product without any THC whatsoever (like a CBD broad spectrum), a drug test will not return a positive test result for THC.

Conversely, using a hemp-derived CBD product containing even a trace amount of THC (i..e, 0.3% or less) on a daily basis and overtime may trigger a positive drug test result for THC. Generally, daily use overtime can build up the THC in your liver, and eventually into your bloodstream, which may be enough to cause a positive test result for THC on a drug test. THC is fat soluble and is not immediately metabolized by your body.

The amount of time it takes for a person’s body to metabolize and release THC varies based on various factors, such as:

  • frequency of use
  • the amount stored in your body’s fat cells, and
  • your body’s metabolism rate

What To Do If You Are Subject to Drug Testing

What should you do if you are subject to drug testing and want to use a CBD product? Here’s a few suggestions.

  • Stay away from CBD products containing THC even if the amount of THC is 0.3% or less.
  • Buy a CBD product containing only CBD described as CBD Isolate or Hemp Extract Isolate, or a CBD product that claims to have zero THC (zero delta-9 THC, zero delta-8 THC, zero delta-10 THC, etc.) such as a CBD Broad Spectrum.
  • Review the CBD product’s lab report (the “Certificate of Analysis“) to verify that the CBD product has only CBD and no THC.
  • If the drug test is job related, speak with your prospective or actual employer about the company’s drug testing policy to learn if there is an exception for CBD products containing up to 0.3% THC.

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The statements in this post are strictly for educational purposes only and are not intended to and do not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment,  and should not be used for such purposes. Always seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you have regarding a medical condition. The statements in this post are also not intended and also do not serve as legal advice or legal opinion. If you have a legal question regarding drug testing and your legal rights, consult with an attorney.

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