While Canadians can enjoy all manner of CBD and marijuana products legally, the ebb and flow of the legalization discussion is taking place across the world. For example, the FDA recently held its first public hearing on cannabis and any cannabis-related products, to talk about possible regulation in the event of an upcoming approval.
What does this mean for cannabis users and those interested in cannabis? For one, the mainstreaming of cannabis and its sister category, CBD, means there’s going to be a lot more options to choose from, in terms of dosages, delivery systems, and even marketed purposes. It’s important for potential users to know how these different options affect their body for safety and satisfaction.
First, let’s take a moment to explain the fundamental differences between CBD products and conventional marijuana. The major difference between the two is THC. THC is a chemical that gives us the hallucinogenic effects that we most commonly associate with cannabis use. CBD products, on the other hand, have little to no THC. In fact, the bulk of CBD products that you see on the market today are made from hemp. Hemp and cannabis are variations on the same base plant, but hemp has no THC content at all. This difference is the reason that you can buy CBD products in any U.S. state, even ones that haven’t formally legalized marijuana yet.
Because of the different chemical profile, you are generally going to see marijuana smoked for different reasons than CBD products. For example, smoked cannabis has been shown to have some applications for conditions like nausea or glaucoma. On the other hand, CBD is a growing option for general pain relief. This is part of the reason why many athletes say that CBD can help with their workouts. In addition, it also helps with more specific issues like epilepsy or even mental health. However, as cannabis gets more scientific attention, chances are we’ll see the list grow for both areas.
The bulk of CBD products out there are consumed orally, like oils, tinctures, even gummies and CBD-infused foods. When you consume a CBD product orally, it need to go through the digestive system before you actually get to see any of the effects. When it hits the intestines, the CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream, at which point you can start seeing effects like relaxation, pain relief, and others.
Some feel that this is more inefficient, because a lot of components of the CBD product end up being excreted as waste rather than going towards the body. Some product makers try to work around this by making oils or products designed to be taken under the tongue. This helps the CBD go directly into the bloodstream, as there are many blood vessels in that area. Another way to speed the process along is by taking your CBD with some food. Fatty acids, like we find in avocados are fish, are the best complements for CBD.
However, oral delivery systems aren’t the only way that you can get your daily dose of CBD. For example, when you use a topical product (CBD lotion or cream), it doesn’t ever actually reach the bloodstream. Instead, it is absorbed through the skin’s surface to interact with the cannabinoid receptors there. Note that you may need to add these items liberally in order to get through the skin’s natural barriers.
Many recreational users are quick to tell you that edibles take a lot longer than smoking cannabis to feel effects. Again, it’s all about the bloodstream. When you smoke and inhale marijuana, the first place they head to is the lungs. From the lungs, they quickly head into the bloodstream and to the brain, where you start to feel a lot of the effects of getting high. After that, it goes to the rest of the body before being metabolized by the liver. The benefit here is that you have a much quicker onset of effects, but the duration may be shorter. In addition, some medicinal marijuana users find it easier to determine an ideal dosage when smoking rather than consuming it in another way.
The same premise applies if you opt to inhale CBD by vaping. While it may not be the most discrete way to take CBD, it does allow more absorption at a quicker rate.
Note that despite what you may hear, there isn’t necessarily a “better” or “worse” way to consume cannabis. What’s important is to understand your goals for using it and find a method that aligns with those. For example, a recreational user may prefer to inhale, while for the athlete looking for pain relief after a workout, a CBD capsule may make more sense.