A study by the University of Montreal published in the journal Development and Psychopathology in 2016 found that early use of marijuana can affect teens. Smokers that start around age 14 do worse on some cognitive tests than non-smokers. The study on almost 300 students found that pot smokers also have a higher school dropout rate. Those that waited to start around age 17 did not seem to have the same impairments.
THC can be extracted from marijuana, or synthesized, as is the case for the FDA-approved drug dronabinol. Dronabinol is used to treat or prevent the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer medicines and to increase the appetites of people with AIDS, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It is a light yellow resinous oil.
Some strains of cannabis can have as little as 0.3 percent THC by weight. In other strains, THC makes up 20 percent of the weight in a sample. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the average THC concentration in marijuana is 1 to 5 percent; in hashish, it is 5 to 15 percent, and in hashish oil, it averages 20 percent. THC in recreational doses of marijuana is highly variable and the lower the THC content in the marijuana, the more the user must consume to produce the desired effects.
Edibles, foods containing THC, have become a large problem in states that have legalized pot because of overdosing.
THC stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine, creating euphoria, according to NIDA. It also interferes with how information is processed in the hippocampus, which is part of the brain responsible for forming new memories.
Before choosing a THC or CBD product, it is important to check your state laws to ensure that these products are legal where you live. Federal law mandates that hemp-derived CBD products should contain less than 0.3% THC, but even those trace amounts are still illegal in some states.
CBD that comes from marijuana may contain more THC, which may not be ideal for people who are trying to avoid THC. Some CBD products that are produced from cannabis, for example, may contain more THC than the label suggests.
Taking CBD along with THC has also been shown to help reduce some of the unwanted effects that THC may have. For example, one study suggests that CBD may potentially reduce some of the negative cognitive effects of regular cannabis use. For example, people who use cannabis, particularly when it has high THC levels, may have a greater risk of experiencing psychiatric symptoms such as paranoia, anxiety, and psychosis. Studies have found, however, that CBD may help mitigate these effects.
When choosing CBD products, it is also important to consider its formulation. Isolate products contain only CBD. Broad-spectrum products contain other cannabinoids with the exception of THC, while full-spectrum CBD products contain CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.
Before You Take THC or CBD
While CBD and THC often have similar effects and are often used to treat many of the same ailments, there are some differences.
Some research suggests that the potential therapeutic effects of THC and CBD tend to be greater when the two cannabinoids are taken together at the same time. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.
THC and CBD have an effect on the endocannabinoid system, a system that plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis. Researchers are still working to understand the ins and outs of this complex system, but they do know that it is associated with processes including memory, appetite, sleep, mood, and fertility.
CBD and THC have the same molecular structure, but there are differences in how these molecules are arranged that are responsible for the differing effects they have. By mimicking endocannabinoids, they bind with receptors and cause different effects in the body.
THC use may also result in unpleasant side effects such as increased heart rate, dry mouth, and memory loss.