Synthetic Biology the new Cannabis Industry


With the increasing popularity of cannabis products, consumers are stated to become intrigued regarding their options. The most common cannabinoids of cannabis are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD can be from both cannabis and hemp. Hemp and cannabis are both derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. It is legally required for legal hemp to contain THC content of either 0.3% or less. Moreover, CBD is typically sold in different forms such as oils, gels, supplements, gummies, extracts, etc.

THC, however, is the primary psychoactive compound present in cannabis and is responsible for the “high”. While THC is usually consumed using smokable cannabis, it also exists in the form of edibles, oils, capsules, tinctures, etc. CBD and THC, both, interact with the endocannabinoid system of the body, producing different effects.

CBD Vs. THC

Chemical structure

Both of these compounds consist of exactly the same molecular structure i.e 20 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, a small difference is the arrangement of atoms which is responsible for the difference in the effects on the body. Moreover, the chemical composition of both CBD and THC is similar to the endocannabinoids of the body. Hence, interaction is possible.

This interaction further impacts the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters are the chemicals that are responsible for the transfer of messages between different cells, and play significant roles in immune function, stress, pain, and sleep, etc.

Psychoactive components

Irrespective of the same chemical structures, both compounds display different psychoactive effects. While CBD is psychoactive, it isn’t in the same manner as THC and doesn’t cause any high. However, research has shown that CBD can potentially help with anxiety, depression, and seizures.

THC, in the brain, binds with the CB1 (cannabinoid 1) receptors, and produces a sense of euphoria, commonly known as a “high”. CBD hardly binds to CB1 receptors, and weakly, if it does. CBD requires THC to be able to bind to CB1 receptors, and can consequently lessen many of the psychoactive effects of THC, like sedation or euphoria.

Medical benefits

Both CBD and THC have similar medical benefits, and aid alleviation from several similar conditions. CBD, however, does not cause a high or sense of euphoria, unlike THC. Hence, owing to this effect, many people prefer CBD over THC.

Epidiolex was approved by the FDA in June 2018, which was the very first medication (only with prescription) to also contain amounts of CBD. This medication is usually used to treat rare kinds of epilepsy which can be difficult to control.

CBD further helps in treating several other conditions such as – inflammation, seizures, pain, psychosis, nausea, mental disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, migraine, and depression.

THC on the other hand helps in treating conditions such as – muscle spasticity, pain, insomnia, glaucoma, nausea, low appetite, and anxiety.

Legalization

There is constant evolution seen in the laws in the United States regarding cannabis. CBD, however, comes under Schedule 1 drugs, according to federal law. Hemp was taken off from the Controlled Substances Act. But, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) still consider CBD under Schedule 1 Drugs.

33 states with the inclusion of Washington D.C, have declared cannabis laws, which legalizes higher levels of THC in medical cannabis. Medical cannabis would still need to be prescribed to the patient by a licensed physician. Additionally, many states have legalized the use of recreational cannabis and THC. CBD should be conveniently accessible in states where cannabis is legalized for both, medical and recreational purposes.

However, before shopping for any CBD or THC products, it is necessary to check your state’s laws. Possession of cannabis products in a state where it is not legalized would result in legal penalties.

Drug testing

Several cannabinoids such as THC and CBD can be seen on drug tests as they are stored in the fat of the body. Moreover, they can also be seen after several days or weeks of use. However, not all drug tests are able to successfully detect CBD. But, many CBD-sensitive tests are also used. Most of the basic drug tests will screen chemicals associated with THC, which is why marijuana or THC might also be detected.

Similarly, hemp also has the ability to produce THC, which can result in a positive drug test for THC, despite not having used it. Furthermore, many products claiming to be THC-free may still contain traces of THC. So, it is preferable to not use CBD or THC products if you are going for a drug test.

Side-effects

Large doses can also be used for CBD. Research shows that side-effects with CBD are usually the result of interactions between CBD and any other medications that are taken by the individual.

THC can be responsible for temporary side effects – increased heart rate, dry mouth, coordination problems, red eyes, memory loss, slower reaction times, and anxiety.

CBD can be responsible for side effects – fatigue, appetite changes, dizziness, weight loss, and diarrhea.

However, none of these compounds are lethal. High THC use can result in concerning psychiatric effects long-term. ut, there is a significant lack of conclusive evidence that would show that cannabis may cause psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.

CBD and THC are the most popular cannabinoids. Cannabis and hemp produce both of these cannabinoids. While there is a higher concentration of THC in cannabis, CBD is present in a higher concentration in hemp. On average, cannabis strains currently contain 12% THC. While there may be small amounts of THC in CBD oil (due to its presence in the hemp plant in lower levels), it is a federal requirement for it to be no more than 0.3%

Both compounds are medically beneficial and safe. However, the drug-to-drug interactions between these compounds, and the induced side effects, must be focused on. It is advisable to discuss this with your doctor or any licensed cannabis clinician, to explore different products, etc. In states where medical cannabis is legal, it will also be easier to find a licensed CBD clinician to talk to.

The cannabis industry is diverse and consists of cannabis in different forms. Check out different recipes, product reviews, and research-based articles, to understand the benefits and limitations associated with cannabis.



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