Cannabis products that are high in the non-intoxicating compound cannabidiol (CBD) have been creating a buzz since legalization. But what exactly is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 chemical compounds (cannabinoids) found in cannabis.
How does CBD work?
CBD works with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is an important internal system that helps to regulate a number of key biological functions including appetite, mood, pain sensations, balance, memory, fertility, and movement.
Our body naturally produces endocannabinoids, which are chemicals that interact with receptors called CB1 and CB2 that are located on cells throughout our body, mainly in the brain, immune system, blood vessels, digestive tract, and most major organs.
Cannabinoids mimic the natural endocannabinoids that our bodies produce—in fact the endocannabinoid system was named after the cannabinoid compounds in cannabis, as these were discovered first.
THC binds with CB1 receptors, which exist in greater concentrations in our brains. This may explain why consuming THC can result in feelings of intoxication or being high.
CBD has been shown to affect the activity of receptors and THC, and increase levels of anandamide. Named after the Sanskrit word for joy (ananda), anandamide is an endocannabinoid known as the ‘bliss chemical’, which is responsible for natural feelings of euphoria (such as the ‘runner’s high’ that some people experience when running).
Unlike THC, CBD does not cause intoxication, and may mitigate some of the effects of THC on the mind, when it’s consumed in cannabis that has a higher ratio of CBD to THC (at least 2:1)
Some CBD-dominant products carry a trace of THC as they are full-spectrum, which means that the extract has retained the original profile of the plant in terms of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other elements. Other oils are broad-spectrum, which means they contain most of the plant’s original profile, but have had the THC removed.
When it comes to measuring CBD or information about dosing, there are no guidelines for non-medical cannabis, but since Health Canada has not placed a potency limit on CBD, some products at BC Cannabis Stores contain as much as 55 mg/ml of CBD (which is generally considered high-CBD by most Licensed Producers).
Read each product’s label to find out how much CBD and THC is in it and what the ratio is to each other.
CBD can be consumed as an ingestible or inhalable product.
High-CBD or CBD-dominant products can be found in most cannabis formats, including dried flower, pre-roll, oils, capsules, vapes, edibles, and concentrates. Products that contain equal amounts of CBD and THC will be less impairing than THC-dominant strains, but may still cause effects for those who are looking to avoid getting “high”.
Cannabis oils are a popular way of consuming CBD as they are smokeless and odourless and can be ingested in capsule form, by dropping or spraying them under the tongue (sublingually), or by adding them to food or drink. CBD oil includes a high-CBD cannabis extract in a carrier oil base. MCT oil is often coconut-derived, and is popular amongst Licensed Producers, but palm oil and sunflower oil are also sometimes used as a carrier oil base. CBD-dominant products have a ratio of at least 2:1 CBD to THC and some products contain zero THC.
CBD can also be consumed in an edible format (chocolate and gummies), or as a beverage such as tea or a pre-mixed sparkling drink. CBD-dominant dried flower, and vape pens and cartridges, offer an alternative way to consume CBD as an inhalable product.
While edibles, like oils, may take between 30 minutes and four hours to feel effects, beverages and inhalable products may be felt within minutes. Edible products have no cap on CBD, but can legally only contain up to 10mg of THC per package, with CBD-only and balanced products offered too.
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