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CBD cover image

Cannabinoid Profile: What is CBD?

You may have already realized that, when it comes to cannabis, THC is only part of the story. Another cannabinoid, CBD, has been making waves for a few years for its profound therapeutic potential without the psychoactive buzz. But what exactly is CBD? And how does it differ when it comes from the flower of hemp plants versus traditional cannabis?

Let’s demystify CBD, highlight its benefits, and uses, and explore why it’s become such a cornerstone of wellness conversations worldwide.

The simplified molecular structure of the CBD cannabinoid.
Cannabidiol does not produce any psychoactive effects.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many phytocannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant. Unlike its cousin Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t cause the “high” associated with cannabis use. It’s captured the interest of the scientific community and the public for its potential effects on wellness, but how does it work?

The Endocannabinoid System and CBD

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies. This system plays a critical role in regulating certain processes including pain sensation, immune response, stress reactivity, and even cognitive functions. The ECS is made up of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), endocannabinoids (molecules our bodies produce that are similar to cannabinoids), and enzymes that help break down and use these compounds.

Learn more about the Endocannabinoid System.

CBD’s Mechanism of Action

CBD doesn’t bind directly to the main cannabinoid receptors in the same way THC does. Instead, it influences the ECS indirectly and increases the levels of endocannabinoids, such as anandamide (often referred to as the “bliss molecule”). This indirect action is one reason scientists believe CBD less intoxicating than THC.

The potential medical applications of CBD are still being explored, with evidence suggesting benefits in conditions such as anxiety, certain seizure disorders, and chronic pain. For instance, the FDA has approved a CBD-based medication for the treatment of two severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. However, the mechanisms behind its therapeutic effects for other conditions are still being unraveled. Scientists are also examining how different doses and methods of administration affect CBD’s efficacy and safety profile.

The Challenges of CBD Research

Despite the increasing availability of CBD products, it’s important to remember that many of these products are not regulated for purity or dosage consistency, posing challenges for both consumers and researchers. Furthermore, the interaction between CBD and other medications, as well as its long-term effects, needs more research.

While CBD holds some promise, the scientific community still urges caution and more research to fully understand its potential and limitations. If you’re considering CBD, have a conversation with your healthcare provider to evaluate the potential risks and benefits before jumping in head first.


flour hemp in bowl with grain in bag on dark board
Hemp and Cannabis: two different names for the same plant?

The Source: Hemp vs. Cannabis

The market is primarily sourced from two types of plants: hemp and cannabis. It’s important to point out that there is a debate within the industry about the differences or whether there is any difference at all.

The generally accepted explanation lies in the THC content. Hemp plants are bred for processing into fiber or to have high levels of CBD and minimal THC (less than 0.3%), making them the primary source for CBD products.


Fruit stand of a hemp plant growing on a farm.
Hemp is typically grown for fiber and CBD content.

What is CBD flower?

CBD flower is bud of the hemp plant. It is characterized by high CBD content and minimal THC levels, typically below 0.3%. This ensures it doesn’t produce the intoxicating effects often associated with cannabis, making it a legal, non-psychoactive option for individuals seeking wellness benefits in states with strict anti-cannabis laws.

Rich in cannabinoids and terpenes, CBD flower offers a potential natural alternative for managing some medical conditions without the high. Its legal status stems from a 2018 bill, which distinguishes hemp from marijuana based on THC content, and ultimately allowing the cultivation, sale, and use of hemp and its derivatives across many states. This means consumers can enjoy the potential therapeutic aspects of CBD flower through various forms of consumption, including smoking, vaporizing, and as an ingredient in edibles and teas.

Psychoactive Effects

Given its non-psychoactive nature, CBD does not induce the high associated with THC. Users often describe a sense of calm or relief from anxiety and stress.

CBD in the form of combustible flower provides the same benefits as other CBD products, like oils and tinctures. This allows users to experience the effects in a way that closely mirrors traditional cannabis use but without significant psychoactive effects.


medicinal cannabis and stethoscope on rustic wooden background
CBD holds a lot of promise for medical applications.

Potential Medical Applications

The therapeutic potential of this cannabinoid spans a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, and more. Some of the strongest evidence of its medical benefits comes in the treatment of child epilepsy syndromes like Dravet Syndrome and LGS, providing relief where traditional medicines fail.

It also has shown anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties which have made it a subject of intense research and interest within the medical community. This versatility in health applications propels the curiosity behind CBD as individuals seek natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals.

Legal Status and Accessibility

CBD’s legal status varies by state but has seen a lot of widespread acceptance due to its non-psychoactive properties and research-backed health benefits. The distinction between CBD derived from hemp versus cannabis is significant here; hemp-derived CBD is legal in many places where cannabis is not, thanks to its low THC content. The legal acceptance has made CBD products, including flower, oils, and edibles, more accessible to consumers seeking wellness benefits.

In 2018, the Farm Bill was signed into law, which not only exempted all hemp-derived products, including CBD, from the Controlled Substances Act, which makes the possession of certain drugs illegal, but also unintentionally legalized other cannabinoids derived from hemp, such as delta 8, and delta 9 THC.

This distinction means that any cannabinoid is legal when sourced from hemp but not when derived from cannabis (marijuana), despite being chemically identical. As a result, many individuals now legally purchase CBD online without the need for a medical marijuana license, a practice that is permissible in most states.

Recreational Use and Culture

While not intoxicating, CBD has carved out a niche in recreational use for those seeking relaxation, relief from minor discomforts, or a gentle mood lift. The growing demand shows a curiosity for more natural, wellness-oriented cannabis consumption, even in recreational settings.

Rev Key Lime Remedy CBD flower on a white background
CBD flower looks virtually identical to high THC flower.

Is CBD Flower Safe?

Safety is a paramount concern when exploring this compound. Generally regarded as safe, CBD has few known side effects, primarily when consumed in moderation. Some side effects include nausea, fatigue, and irritability.

However, the industry’s lack of regulation raises valid concerns about product quality and consistency. Always seek out lab-tested products from reputable sources to ensure safety and efficacy, and consult your physician as always.

Economic Implications

CBD’s surge in popularity has had significant economic implications. In 2023, the market hit a whopping 7.6 billion dollars in revenue and analysts expect it to reach 36.6 billion by 2023.

It has also contributed to the growth of the wellness industry as a whole while sparking innovation in cannabis cultivation and product development. The market for CBD products has expanded, creating new opportunities for farmers, retailers, and entrepreneurs.

THC vs CBD: The Non-Psychoactive Alternative

The conversation about CBD often revolves around its differences from THC. While both cannabinoids offer potential therapeutic benefits, CBD’s lack of psychoactivity makes it the preferred option for those seeking relief without the high, offering a complementary approach to wellness alongside traditional THC products. CBD also has an advantage when it comes to accessibility thanks to far more legal regulations.

Learn more about the differences between THC vs CBD.

Final Thoughts

Cannabidiol, from hemp flower to oils, opens up many potential applications for natural wellness and therapeutic applications. It’s impact goes beyond being an alternative to THC. It has represented an overall cultural shift toward a wider embrace of cannabis.

The future could ignite even more interest as scientific research continues to learn more and more about this interesting cannabinoid.


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