Hemp or Marijuana CBD?

September 12, 2018 15 216
Hemp or Marijuana CBD?

By Dr Janelle Trees, BSC (HONS), MBBS (HONS), FRACGP

All parts of the cannabis plant have been used for millennia. Cannabis Sativa is likely to be one of the world’s earliest cultivated crops.

It’s not surprising that different cultivars have been developed for different uses. Nowadays, hemp is used for making canvas, paper and hemp-based plastics. The cannabis plant historically bred for medicine, intoxication and as an entheogen, now called marijuana, has been selected for those qualities.

CBD is an abbreviation for cannabinidiol, a naturally-occurring cannabinoid in marijuana and hemp. Both hemp and marijuana are types of Cannabis plant. Cannabis has over 110 cannabinoids. Research into the beneficial medicinal effects of many cannabinoids is a blossoming field of science. CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol) are the two cannabinoids we know most about. Most marijuana-based medicines now available in Australia are based on CBD and THC.

THC is best known for its psychotropic effect, since that was the effect that recreational users of marijuana were most interested in. Research has also shown THC can be an effective analgesic (pain reliever). THC has a synergistic effect with CBD—together they are often more beneficial. Different ratios of THC and CBD have varying effects in individual patients.

Research into the effects of CBD have shown that it can also be a useful anti-inflammatory and analgesic when used alone.

This is important because CBD has no psychotropic effects. It can be an important medicine for patients who don’t want or need THC.

CBD is derived from the hemp plant or the marijuana plant—it’s present in both. Over centuries, hemp was bred for fibre—to make rope, cloth or paper—whereas marijuana was bred to maximise THC-containing leaves, flowers and resin.

CBD and THC are present in cannabis plants as acidic precursors, acids which become CBD and THC on heating. These acids are referred to as THCA and CBDA. Marijuana has high THCA and low CBDA. Conversely, plants which have low THCA and high CBDA are labelled hemp.

In a similar way, opium poppies—used to produce morphine and other opiates—are a different cultivar of the plant than those bred for the colours of their flowers or their seeds (which are used in cakes and bread).

Anecdotally, I have heard a marijuana-prescribing doctor say that CBD from hemp plants can be ineffective. Other scientists say that CBD is the same molecule wherever it comes from. Tie and experience will tell.

The only reason you are likely to hear about the discussion is that the difference is important from a legal point of view in the US. CBD derived from hemp is legal in some states where CBD derived from marijuana plants remains illegal. This is not an issue in Australia.

CBD alone works well for some patients with some conditions. Others find that they need THC added to mix for the CBD to be effective. The ratio of THC to CBD needed to relieve symptoms is one of the considerations in working out (‘titrating’) an effective dose of medicinal marijuana with your doctor. Whether there is any difference between CBD derived from hemp or marijuana-based CBD remains to be seen. What matters to each patient as an individual is finding the medicine, in the right dose, that works for them.

All parts of the cannabis plant have been used for millennia. Cannabis Sativa is likely to be one of the world’s earliest cultivated crops.

It’s not surprising that different cultivars have been developed for different uses. Nowadays, hemp is used for making canvas, paper and hemp-based plastics. The cannabis plant historically bred for medicine, intoxication and as an entheogen, now called marijuana, has been selected for those qualities.

CBD is an abbreviation for cannabinidiol, a naturally-occurring cannabinoid in marijuana and hemp. Both hemp and marijuana are types of Cannabis plant. Cannabis has over 110 cannabinoids. Research into the beneficial medicinal effects of many cannabinoids is a blossoming field of science. CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol) are the two cannabinoids we know most about. Most marijuana-based medicines now available in Australia are based on CBD and THC.

THC is best known for its psychotropic effect, since that was the effect that recreational users of marijuana were most interested in. Research has also shown THC can be an effective analgesic (pain reliever). THC has a synergistic effect with CBD—together they are often more beneficial. Different ratios of THC and CBD have varying effects in individual patients.

Research into the effects of CBD have shown that it can also be a useful anti-inflammatory and analgesic when used alone.

This is important because CBD has no psychotropic effects. It can be an important medicine for patients who don’t want or need THC.

CBD is derived from the hemp plant or the marijuana plant—it’s present in both. Over centuries, hemp was bred for fibre—to make rope, cloth or paper—whereas marijuana was bred to maximise THC-containing leaves, flowers and resin.

CBD and THC are present in cannabis plants as acidic precursors, acids which become CBD and THC on heating. These acids are referred to as THCA and CBDA. Marijuana has high THCA and low CBDA. Conversely, plants which have low THCA and high CBDA are labelled hemp.

In a similar way, opium poppies—used to produce morphine and other opiates—are a different cultivar of the plant than those bred for the colours of their flowers or their seeds (which are used in cakes and bread).

Anecdotally, I have heard a marijuana-prescribing doctor say that CBD from hemp plants can be ineffective. Other scientists say that CBD is the same molecule wherever it comes from. Tie and experience will tell.

The only reason you are likely to hear about the discussion is that the difference is important from a legal point of view in the US. CBD derived from hemp is legal in some states where CBD derived from marijuana plants remains illegal. This is not an issue in Australia.

CBD alone works well for some patients with some conditions. Others find that they need THC added to mix for the CBD to be effective. The ratio of THC to CBD needed to relieve symptoms is one of the considerations in working out (‘titrating’) an effective dose of medicinal marijuana with your doctor. Whether there is any difference between CBD derived from hemp or marijuana-based CBD remains to be seen. What matters to each patient as an individual is finding the medicine, in the right dose, that works for them.



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