Can Someone Please Tell me: What the F#@% is up with CBD?

What is CBD? What’s the difference between hemp and marijuana? Where does the term Cannabis fit in? If marijuana is illegal, why can I get CBD in my town?

The prior are questions I heard when I went back to Indianapolis, my hometown, a couple weeks ago. With the rise in curiosity from even those in states with no reform laws to speak of; we felt that we wanted to address these questions as best we could. Admittedly, being so close to the epicenter, we often forget that some pillar ideas need a little more clarification.

First, for those that may be unclear, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found within many varietals of the Cannabis plant. It has grown in popularity because of the excessive amount of research indicating the numerous health benefits of consuming it, as well as the functions of the body’s natural production of its chemical equivalent 2-arachidonoylglycerol, or 2ag for short. Ironically, it has also come to be largely misunderstood because of the tremendous lack of definitive research regarding its specific, isolated benefits along with their limitations. (Yes, yours, mine, and everyone else’s body on the planet produces a chemical that is identical to CBD.)

Next, do you remember “King Phillip Came Over For Good Spaghetti” from 6th grade science class? The specific words might have been a little different, but the acronym is the same— Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. It’s a super useful tool for remembering how every living thing on the planet is classified. It’s cool now too because it helps us understand the differences in the words being tossed around.

Cannabis for our example is the Genus. Hemp is another word for Cannabis Ruderalis, a Species of Cannabis which grows very little THC and sometimes greater quantities of CBD. It is, however, more often used in the manufacturing of industrial materials like fiber. Marijuana is a derivative of a word for the Spanish equivalent of the smoked variety of the plant. It’s a reference to Cannabis Sativa, the second of the two Species of the Genus Cannabis. Within Cannabis Sativa are many varietals of the plant including ones higher in THC and some higher in CBD. Hemp will never grow a considerable amount of THC, and while it often does grow more CBD, it’s rarely enough to feasibly extract. Cannabis Sativa, or adult-use Cannabis, has been engineered over centuries to typically produce higher amounts of THC. There are varietals, however, that produce more CBD than THC.

The question we’ll look at in the next blog, which will be coming out sooner than the usual bi-weekly schedule, is the one on CBD’s recent availability and how those waters might be navigated. Now that we have a little bit more clarity on some of the terminology, this information should be quite a bit easier to absorb. While there are a myriad of existing articles and other blogs discussing the advent of CBD; we hope the next piece will answer some questions from those without easy access to this information.


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