Cannabis – like other plants with multiple uses such as corn and potatoes – can be bred and grown for different types of products that, depending on their properties, are subject to regulatory oversight. No matter what a particular cannabis plant is grown for, it contains hundreds of cannabinoids, compounds that occur naturally within the plant that are the subject of intensive discussion, research, and study. The cannabis plant is the source of cannabinoids whether the plant is defined by regulators as “hemp” or as “cannabis.” Cannabinoid creation starts with a singular molecular compound called cannabigerol (CBG). As the cannabis plant grows and develops in nature, CBG naturally converts into cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as over 150 other cannabinoids.
THC is a cannabinoid (THC’s full scientific name is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD is a cannabinoid. Due to its intoxicating affects, cannabis with more than .3% THC is either regulated for adult use in the United States, allowed only for medical use, or banned. But CBD (and CBG, or CBN, which are not intoxicating) are in a wide range of products that are unregulated and available for casual purchase at grocery stores and day spas alike.
We are learning more about the cannabis plant and cannabinoids every day. When it comes to momentum toward legalization across the country and adult use intoxicants, informed and empowered consumers across the country will have a spectrum of legal, regulated THC products to choose from, and regulators have a critical role in ensuring those products are safe.