The use of Cannabis continues to grow, and with it comes the need for a great understanding of how it is used and the legal implications.

It seems every company is coming out with its own Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products, leaving consumers to wonder what actually is effective and what is simply marketing?

It is important to know exactly what you are getting when choosing any product that contains CBD or THC. There are many differences between these two compounds. This includes the impact they can have on your physical and mental health. Both are known to help in the treatment of certain medical conditions as well as provide a unique experience when used recreationally.

What is CBD?

Most people have seen products on the store shelves that contain CBD, a naturally occurring chemical compound derived from the Cannabis sativa plant (marijuana or hemp). It is traditionally used in oils, edibles and more recently foods and cosmetic products.

The CBD component in cannabis is believed to block or lower the effects of THC on the mind.

CBD is known to have a calming effect on the brain through the prevention of the breakdown of chemicals in the brain that cause pain and mental health issues. It can be used to treat countless medical conditions and chronic pain including:

  • Seizures/Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Insomnia
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Anxiety

It has more recently been used in the treatment of childhood epilepsy in cases where traditional antiseizure medications do not work.

Side Effects

Side effects from CBD can include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Tiredness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Crankiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness

What is THC?

THC offers the traditional ‘high’ experience that regular users are more familiar with and is usually consumed by smoking cannabis. While CBD is known for its calming effects, THC gives a feeling of euphoria and alertness.

The level of THC in a product determines how strong the effects of intoxication are on users. Over time the level of potency has grown as growers and distributors have become better at cultivating and producing cannabis products. Since the 1980s, the level of potency in dried cannabis has increased from 3% to 15 % with some reaching levels of 30%.

Note: Cannabis that has a potency rating of less than 0.3% is classified as hemp.

THC and it’s mind-altering effects has lead to it being an option for alternative medical treatment for diseases such as:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Nerve Pain
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Nausea
  • Glaucoma

THC may also be an effective treatment in health conditions such as cancer and HIV. However, more research is being conducted by professionals to try to prove this case. It’s important to understand that, not everyone experiences the effects of THC in the same way. Some people may have little to no effect while others may have a severe reaction.

Side Effects

THC can cause:

  • Problems with concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Balance
  • Memory Loss

Neither CBD or THC is fatal in high doses, prolonged exposure to THC can have negative effects on brain function especially in teens.

Will I Get High?

There is a large difference between the experience of CBD and THC. CBD does not make you high. It may offer a feeling of relaxation, but it will not alter your mind. However it is recommended to speak to a professional and get advice on consumption of cannabis.

The human body has two kinds of cannabinoid receptors and THC binds with these receptors which gives you the feeling of being high. The receptors that control pain and mood are located in the brain. THC alters these receptors enough to change how our body feels and reacts.

Canadian Cannabis Law

In October 2018, the Canadian government legalized cannabis for users over the age of 18.

This includes new regulations on growing, using and selling cannabis. The Cannabis Act states it is legal to:

  • Possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
  • Share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
  • Buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer in provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals are able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers
  • Grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use
  • Make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products

The regulation of CBD falls under these same guidelines. It is not legal to produce, sell, import or export CBD for any reason other than medical or scientific purposes.

Testing For THC and CBD

In 2014, 618 deaths were associated with driving under the influence of drugs according to MADD Canada. New research has found that a greater number of fatalities occur due to drug consumption than alcohol and these figures are on the rise.

One in seven cannabis users admitted to getting behind the wheel within two hours of consuming cannabis products during the same year.

It is important to understand the effects of CBD and THC on the body before getting behind the wheel. If you are pulled over by police and a drug test is administered, CBD will not be detected. These tests are only able to determine the presence of THC. However, do not drive while being under the influence at any costs.

It is legal to transport cannabis products in your vehicle as long as they are in the original unopened package. It is never legal to cross the border with cannabis products. This includes medical cannabis and products that contain CBD.

How Do I Buy CBD?

The sale of CBD is allowed through Health Canada who oversees the distribution and sale of cannabis and cannabis by-products that contain CBD. Also there are a lot of new licensed local dispensaries, online retailers, that provide regulated CBD products.

Growing/Producing CBD

Anyone who wants to grow or sell cannabis plants or products that contain CBD must have a federal license issued under the Cannabis Act. This allows for the growing of cannabis plants with ‘varying’ amounts of THC and CBD. A processing license is required for the manufacturing and sale of CBD products through authorized retailers.

Food and Cosmetics

Only certain parts of a cannabis plant can be used in the production of food or cosmetics. These parts are “not considered cannabis under the Cannabis Act” according to Health Canada.

The Future of THC and CBD Use In Canada

As the cannabis industry continues to grow and evolve, new and innovative production practices emerge. Research into the use of CBD and THC in the medical field is giving new hope for better and more effective treatment of disease, stress and chronic pain.

It is important to talk with cannabis product experts and your doctor to understand which products are right for you and which can give you the most positive experience.