I had the pleasure of attending a training held at my local police department and I was able to see the ability the Dogs have to distinguish between marijuana high in thc and Hemp high in CBD.
The dog was super smart and had the ability to tell the difference.
The dog was trained using Hemp and has visited local farms.
Most well-seasoned cannabis connoisseurs know that hitting a bong and puffing on a vaporizer will generate a different kind of high. But for the novice-level consumer or medical marijuana patient, the difference between combustion and vaporization might not seem as pertinent. Even everyday tokers might not fully understand the science behind these popular forms of consumption.
Combustion can be simply defined as the process of burning something, in this particular case cannabis. Vaporization, on the other hand, is a slightly more complex process that encompasses a phase transition from liquid to vapor.
Some people might make the surface level argument that “vaping is obviously safer than smoking” and call it a day, but the science and health-related factors behind combustion and vaporization are often unknown or misrepresented.
There is a growing amount of research vying to identify the actual benefits and disadvantages of these consumption methods. As researchers continue to unearth new insights, understanding the differences between combustion and vaporization begins to improve.
Scientific Approach to Combustion vs. Vaporization
When you look at the differences between combustion and vaporization, the most critical factor to take into account is the temperature used for each method. Most vaporization devices will heat the cannabis just below the point of combustion, which ranges between 180 to 190 degrees Celsius (356 to 374 degrees Fahrenheit). On the other hand, a lighter will produce an open flame that can reach more than 315 degrees Celsius, or 600 degrees Fahrenheit, an extremely high temperature that will boil away a substantial amount of cannabinoids and terpenes before the cannabis is even consumed.
Vaping cannabis increases the amount of cannabis compounds that are activated, which could potentially enhance some of the health benefits for medical marijuana patients.
A 2009 study, published in Inhalation Toxicology, looked into the medicinal qualities of cannabis through various consumption methods. Using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), the researchers analyzed the variance between the cannabis by-products generated from a Volcano vaporizer and traditional “cannabis cigarette smoke.” Again, the primary facet here was the temperature used to vaporize the cannabis.
“The cannabinoids:byproducts ratio in the vapor obtained at 200 degrees C and 230 degrees C [392 to 446 degrees Fahrenheit] was significantly higher than in the cigarette smoke. The worst ratio of cannabinoids:byproducts was obtained from the vaporized cannabis sample at 170 degrees C [338 degrees Fahrenheit],” the study stated.
Temperature also has an impact on the flavor and aroma of cannabis. Different terpenes have specific boiling points, so the lower the temperature, the more flavor and aroma is likely to be present. One advantage of vaporization that is usually understated is that many devices give users the ability to fine-tune the temperature to optimize the cannabis consumption experience.
Effects of Combustion and Vaporization on Health
While research into the long-term health effects of vaping is still lacking, it’s generally accepted that vaporization is safer than smoking. For medical patients in particular, inhaling any combusted plant material, including cannabis products, is considered to be a health risk.
Vaporization produces fewer carcinogenic compounds than combustion and may even help eliminate toxic and potentially carcinogenic compounds that are created as a result of combustion. A 2001 study conducted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) concluded that cannabis vaporization devices could suppress carcinogenic compounds that are found in cannabis smoke, such as benzene, naphthalene, and toluene.
There is some merit to the perceived health benefits that vaporization offers. One study, published in the Harm Reduction Journal in 2007, examined self-reported respiratory symptoms in participants who used cigarettes and cannabis. The findings suggested that using a vaporizer could increase the amount of cannabis that is consumed but could also decrease respiratory symptoms in regular cannabis users who smoke.
“Cannabis smoking can create respiratory problems. Vaporizers heat cannabis to release active cannabinoids, but remain cool enough to avoid the smoke and toxins associated with combustion. Vaporized cannabis should create fewer respiratory symptoms than smoked cannabis,” the study stated.
In a 2014 survey, researchers found that most cannabis consumers consider vaporization to be more healthful and less harmful than smoking, which has increased its appeal for both medical patients and recreational cannabis consumers.
These initial findings might support the notion that vaporization is safer than combustion, but more experimental research is needed to evaluate that actual health-related effects of this popular delivery method.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has become an increasingly common fixture in medicine cabinets and on the shelves of local convenience stores and major drugstores. There is growing awareness that not all CBD products are made the same, nor are they even necessarily derived from the same kind of cannabis.
Hemp-derived CBD is sourced from industrial hemp plants, which are grown primarily for their fiber and seeds. Hemp plants tend to differ from marijuana plants in appearance; they are often skinny and scarce in foliage. Hemp is also differentiated from marijuana by its levels of THC, the cannabinoid that possesses intoxicating properties. Under U.S. law, a hemp plant must contain no more than 0.3% THC.
Marijuana-derived CBD is extracted from marijuana plants that have thick, lush foliage and flowers that are generally grown and consumed for their intoxicating properties. The U.S. government defines marijuana plants as those which contain more than 0.3% THC. While most marijuana plants contain THC as its predominant cannabinoid, there are several strains of marijuana that are rich in CBD.
That being said, whether CBD is extracted from hemp or marijuana, it remains identical on a molecular level.
“The CBD molecule and its associated pharmacology are the same, whether it was extracted from hemp or from marijuana. CBD is CBD, regardless of where it was originally derived from,” explained Jeremy Riggle, Ph.D, chief scientist at Mary’s Medicinals, a medical cannabis company known for its Transdermal Cannabis Patch.
Despite the identical molecular constitution of hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD, there are certain factors that demarcate CBD products sourced from the two plants.
One critical point of difference between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD is the resin content of each plant. Cannabis resin is found within the trichomes of buds and to a lesser extent on the leaves.
Marijuana plants usually contain copious amounts of resin, while industrial hemp plants contain significantly lower levels. Following that logic, marijuana offers a more abundant source of CBD than hemp. In order to extract CBD oil from hemp plants, a much larger quantity is needed.
There is an exception to this rule. Some emerging craft hemp varieties possess unusually high concentrations of CBD, such as Cherry Charlotte, Cobbler, and Berry Blossom. These cultivars contain between 12 to 20% CBD content with 0.3% THC or less.
Knowing where and how your CBD is sourced will have a major effect in contamination levels. Naturally, hemp is a phytoremedial plant that removes pollutants such as heavy metals and chemicals from soil. But a lack of stringent local regulations surrounding the production and refinement of hemp could lead to highly contaminated CBD products.
For instance, in China, there are few regulations enforced upon the agricultural industry, leading to the production of hemp-derived CBD products that tend to contain high levels of contaminants. Studies show that, due to the country’s mining activities, some regions in China have water and soil that are contaminated with heavy metals.
These contaminants manifest as toxicants within the hemp and may potentially taint CBD oil sourced from these plants. In order to remove the risk of ingesting contaminated CBD, it is safer to consume hemp-derived CBD products, which are grown without chemical pesticides and third-party tested.
Isolate vs. Full-spectrum CBD
CBD isolate products are those which contain only the CBD molecule, with no accompanying terpenes, THC, or other cannabinoids. For patients with certain medical conditions, or those wishing to avoid THC, CBD isolates made from hemp may be preferred. The alternative to CBD isolates would be whole-plant or full-spectrum CBD products.
“Full-spectrum hemp is the extraction of all of the components — cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. — of the hemp plant including low levels of THC,” explained Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO of Women Grow, an organization connecting female professionals in the cannabis industry; and CEO of National Holistic, a healing center based in Washington, D.C.
Marijuana plants, on the other hand, tend to contain a more diverse terpene profile than hemp. CBD products derived from marijuana plants also tend to contain THC levels that are higher than 0.3%.
“When you extract from marijuana, you get the added benefit of added terpene profiles that you can customize. Terpenes have an important therapeutic value,” said Dr. Herve Damas, a physician specializing in CBD treatment for professional athletes and director of Grassroots Herbals, a producer of CBD products.
The Entourage Effect
Research indicates that full-spectrum CBD products, whether extracted from hemp or marijuana plants, may offer enhanced therapeutic benefits.
“The entourage effect is essentially the synergy, in terms of outcome, that has been observed when cannabinoids are combined with other minor cannabinoids and terpenes,” Riggle said. “The combined effect is more pronounced in combination than in isolation, helping to prolong or enhance the overall effects.”
Various studies have shown that the entourage effect helps to increase the clinical efficacy of CBD. One meta-analysis paper, published in September 2018, demonstrated that epileptic patients responded better to CBD-rich cannabis extracts that were complemented with other cannabinoids and phytonutrients.
One of the study’s authors, Fabricio Pamplona, Ph.D, observed, “It’s not necessarily always present in every clinical indication, but we observed that the patients reported lower doses with full spectrum CBD than with pure/isolated CBD.”
Patients taking CBD-rich cannabis extracts also experienced fewer side effects.
“It’s a complicated system that is not yet entirely understood, but the current evidence suggests there is definitely an entourage effect when cannabinoids are combined either with other cannabinoids or with terpenes,” Riggle added.
Which to Choose? Experts Weigh In
One significant consideration which influences consumer choice between hemp or marijuana-based CBD products is the law. Following the passing of the Farm Bill, industrial hemp was removed from the government’s list of controlled substances. As a result, hemp-derived CBD became legal in all fifty states.
In contrast, marijuana-derived CBD products can only be purchased by individuals in states where medical or adult-use cannabis has been legalized.
For those who have the freedom to choose the plant source of their CBD, the experts tended to highlight the benefits of choosing whole-plant products when possible.
“I treat patients with both hemp and marijuana CBD products and I couldn’t say one is more effective than the other. I can concur that most of my patients find that having THC, even the 0.3% found in hemp-derived CBD products, more effective than products with 0% THC,” Damas said.
Macias pointed out that there are medical conditions that respond only to CBD with varying levels of THC, while other conditions do not require the use of THC to achieve medicinal effects.
“Full-spectrum hemp can provide an entourage effect. The medicinal benefits of a hemp-derived entourage effect will depend on the medical condition, stage of the condition, patient physiology, and the dose response,” she explained. “I do believe, however, that CBD-rich marijuana extracts offer greater therapeutic value than full-spectrum hemp CBD, as it pertains to specific medical conditions.”
Experimenting with both hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD with varying levels of THC and CBD may be the key to finding the right product for your needs. Ideally, choose an organic product of a low concentration, and incrementally increase your intake or product concentration until you find a level that works for you.
“At this point, what we know about cannabinoid therapy is that it is highly individualistic and depends to a significant extent on the symptoms being treated,” Riggle said. “The clinical data is not there yet to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.”
Cannabis plants have been found to have over 100 cannabinoids, groups of active compounds found in marijuana that produce many of the effects you feel from using the plant. So far, no cannabinoids are more popular than THC and CBD.
What makes these two compounds so different and why?
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and Cannabidiol, or CBD, are the most well known compounds in cannabis for the potential effects they can produce
In recent years, a high CBD strain also known as Charlotte’s Web, has gained attention around the globe. It is named after Charlotte Figi, a girl who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome
Charlotte was treated when she was 5 years old with the strain and it had outstanding effects, greatly reducing her seizures
So why is it that CBD can have these effects, and THC doesn’t?
THC and CBD are made up of the same molecules.
Cannabinoids act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain, which explains why they affect so many different body functions
However, THC has the ability to get you high, and CBD does not. WHy is this?
THC is a psychoactive compound that produces the euphoric effect of cannabis
CBD has shown on the other hand that it may actually inhibit thc’s ability to get you high and may actually decrease this affect
CBD is currently being studied for it’s antispasmodic, anti nausea and anti-inflammatory effects
The atoms in THC and CBD are actually quite different, explaining why the two have such different effects on the body
This aspect makes an immense difference in how it affects our bodies
THC works by easily binding to CB1 receptors in your brain, therefore producing the euphoric effect and feelings of being high
Some people want the potential benefits of cannabis without getting high from it, making CBD an increasing attractive option. CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 receptors easily, therefore inhibiting the ability to get you high.
A new drug “Epidiolex” was released and approved by the FDA in 2018. It is an oral CBD solution that has shown to treat Lennox Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome- both two rare forms of epilepsy.
This was a moment that went down in history. This was the first time that the FDA has ever approved of a drug substance derived from cannabis. It is also the first time that a drug has been found and approved to treat Dravet syndrome.
So, is the role of THC no longer important? Not entirely.
Studies have shown that THC can help CBD have the effects that it does.
When taken orally, only about 6% of CBD oil is absorbed.
THC actually enhances the benefits of CBD and makes it easier for the body to absorb, making this duo quite the pair when taken together.
Studies show that CBD can potentially treat: psychosis, seizures, anxiety, depression, nausea, Pain, inflammation, mental disorders, and migraines
While THC has been studied to potentially treat: pain, glaucoma, insomnia, low appetite, anxiety, Muscle spasticity, Nausea, and also enhance mood
Both THC and CBD differ by having their own potential individual benefits and effects on our systems, however finding the best combination of cannabinoids for your own unique body could be the key.
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