Cannabis, hemp, marijuana and CBD: What’s the difference and can I use it?

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With a slew of CBD products on the shelves, medical cannabis on the horizon and recreational marijuana potentially in the future, South Dakotans now have more options than ever when it comes to consuming products in the cannabis family.

But along with variety can arise confusion and questions: What exactly is cannabis? What’s the difference between marijuana and hemp? What’s CBD made from? Will hemp products get me high? Is all of this legal?

Here are some answers.

Cannabis, marijuana and hemp:

Cannabis is a plant living within the larger Cannabaceae family. The plant we think of when discussing both marijuana and hemp is known as Cannabis sativa L. According to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), cannabis sativa L. (cannabis) contains about 540 chemical substances. The ones relevant to our interests are delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

While both of these chemicals are found within the cannabis plant, the difference between marijuana and hemp is a question of THC content. The NCCIH says that marijuana constitutes products of the cannabis plant that contain substantial amounts of THC. THC is a psychoactive substance and is the primary element responsible for marijuana’s ability to get a user ‘high.’

Hemp is a form of cannabis containing lesser amounts of THC. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives — whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

All marijuana plants are cannabis, but not all cannabis plants are marijuana. Similarly, all hemp plants are cannabis, but not all cannabis plants are marijuana.

CBD:

CBD, writes Dr. Peter Grinspoon for Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis, behind THC. While THC has psychoactive effects, CBD does not. It is one of the aforementioned 500+ chemicals found in the cannabis plant and is present as chemical in both marijuana and hemp. CBD on its own, whether derived from a marijuana or hemp plant, will not get a person high.

Grinspoon writes that there is some evidence that CBD can be useful in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. This is so far the only use for which the FDA has authorized a CBD product, a prescription drug called Epidiolex.

Grinspoon also notes that CBD is commonly used for issues including anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain.

Can hemp get me high?

No. Yes. Kind of?

Marijuana is cannabis that has a high concentration of THC. Hemp is cannabis that has too-low a concentration of THC (legally less than 0.3 percent) to get a person high. THC is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.

But there is also delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol.

According to Leafly, a cannabis website founded in 2010 that provides, among other things, information about cannabis products, both delta-8 and delta-9 are forms of THC and they are nearly identical.

Delta-8, like delta-9 (regular THC), binds to the body’s endocannabinoid system, which causes you to feel high. Chemically, delta-8 and delta-9 are similar in that they both have a double bond in their structures. This double bond is thought to produce the intoxicating effects that make you feel high.

Leafly

While both have a double bond attaching to a chain of carbon atoms, delta-8 has this bond on the 8th atom, while delta-9 has it on the 9th.

The website DailyCBD says that in terms of potency, delta-8 THC is roughly half as potent as delta-9 THC. While it is less potent, both DailyCBD and Leafly report that delta-8 produces a high similar to that of delta-9.

There is also delta-10 THC, which has its double bond on the 10th carbon atom and is also described as being around half as potent as delta-8.

Legality:

The status of delta-8 THC products is a gray area. Similar to CBD, delta-8 products can be derived from both marijuana and hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized the production of hemp and hemp products, so while delta-8 products derived from hemp are psychoactive in a manner similar to marijuana (which is classified federally as a schedule-one controlled substance), delta-8 derived from hemp is seen by some as legal on a federal level.

According to Leafly, there are currently 11 states in which delta-8 THC products are currently illegal, and many producers will not ship product to the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New York (New York state has explicitly outlawed delta-8)
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah

KELOLAND News has confirmed that hemp derived delta-8 and delta-10 products are currently available for purchase in South Dakota.

In South Dakota, as of June 28, 2021, all marijuana products are illegal. Medical cannabis is set to become legal on July 1, though the state will not begin issuing medical cards until November 2021. The fate of recreational cannabis meanwhile hangs in the hands of the South Dakota Supreme Court after being struck down in February by a circuit court decision.

Until the Supreme Court rules, the circuit ruling stands.

Hemp-derived CBD products are legal in South Dakota.

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