Frequently Asked Questions

New things take time to learn. Here are a few questions we get asked often. Don’t see your question here? Associates at our participating retailers can help you.

Can I get health or relaxation benefits without an overwhelming head high?

Yes. There are a wealth of health, stress reduction, and pain relief benefits from cannabis. Studies show that the plant and its vast array of compounds can help with a range of ailments as common as back pain and stress relief or as severe as seizures. All without the psychoactive chemicals known for producing the well-known head high.

How do I know what kind of product is right for me?

If you’re unsure whether an edible, topical, or vape pen is right for you, our participating retailers have you covered. Trained associates, only at these Greenlight Approved participating retailers, can help you find something just right for your lifestyle, needs and preferences. Just stop in and talk with someone, one-on-one.

Smoking doesn’t fit my lifestyle; what are my other options?

There are plenty of alternative methods for using cannabis. That’s why we’ve selected edibles, vapor, and topical products for those who aren’t interested in traditional smoking methods.

I don’t like the way cannabis makes me feel. How will this be different?

We specifically look for high-CBD and low-THC products for this very reason. That means you’ll get all of the relaxing and relieving benefits without the high.

How long will it take once I get to a retailer?
It depends. It can be a quick process, or there might be a wait. Our pro tip: Since you are new or returning to cannabis your visit might take a little more time. It’s best to avoid making a trip from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. so retail associates can work to meet your needs without the pressure of a line.
Can an associate help me find a product for specific health needs?
Absolutely. They are able and ready to take you through their shop’s offerings of Greenlight Approved products that can help with a range of concerns or needs.

Anxiety and Cannabis FAQs

How will cannabis improve my anxiety?

More than 40 million Americans currently suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder. That’s 18% of the U.S. adult population, and many are currently on prescription pharmaceuticals. Studies suggest that cannabis contains anti-anxiety properties and benefits many people with issues related to anxiety disorders. Considering the number of Americans that could be positively impacted, this is big news.

Anxiety is among the most common reasons cited for those seeking cannabis for medicinal purposes. Why? The idea of taking less pharmaceutical drugs is an attractive proposition for many people. In states with legal cannabis, patients use significantly less prescription medication. Knowing that cannabis can be an affordable and safe option makes it worth a try.

A 1999 study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry discovered a huge societal price tag for anxiety: Roughly one-third of America’s total mental health costs, $42 billion a year, goes to treating anxiety-related disorders.

A 2017 Canadian study discovered that that 40% of patients who were prescribed cannabis to treat anxiety eliminated the use of benzodiazepines (like, Xanax) within 90 days. That percentage increased to 45% within a year of cannabis treatment.

“We wanted to take a close look at the likelihood of continued benzodiazepine usage after commencing medical cannabis treatments and to be perfectly honest, the results are extremely promising,” said Dr. Neil Smith, who conducted the study. “When conducting this type of research, experts are typically encouraged by an efficacy rate in the neighborhood of 10%. To see 45% effectiveness demonstrates that the medical cannabis industry is at a real watershed moment.”

Research demonstrates that cannabis has similar components to pharmaceutical medications for anxiety symptoms. Benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly prescribed types of anti-anxiety medication because they are designed to manage the levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety.

Patients who take benzodiazepines often build a tolerance and they cause thousands of overdose deaths every year. Fortunately, cannabis, specifically the cannabinoid CBD, also regulates the GABA levels traveling to the brain.

Is a CBD-only product preferable to one that contains some THC?

Research suggests that CBD-dominant cannabis with a relatively low THC profile provides the best combination for anxiety relief. Cannabis that is rich in CBD has been found effective for patients suffering from anxiety as well as pain, spasms and many other issues. CBD does not provide the euphoric “high” found in THC. Research animals given CBD have much lower levels of anxiety than those not given the compound.

But it should be emphasized that CBD-only type of cannabis may not be the best option for all anxiety sufferers. Both THC and CBD are powerful endocannabinoids that work individually and especially well in unison. They have also been shown to play a role in stabilizing your mood and calming you down when you feel overwhelmed.

A 2014 study done by the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions demonstrated that chronic stress reduces the production of endocannabinoids, natural chemicals synthesized in the brain that regulate anxiety. Endocannabinoids are similar to the compounds found in cannabis, including THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. THC mimics anandamide, a naturally occurring, mood-regulating endocannabinoid. THC also increases the concentration of dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter that elicits pleasant sensations. Low dopamine levels have been linked to anxiety.

“Using compounds derived from cannabis to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression,” said Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane, who directed the Buffalo study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and published in the “Journal of Neuroscience.”

Have a conversation with a Greenlight Approved retail specialist to find the cannabis that will help you combat your condition. Remember: Only a small amount of THC is needed. Remember the simple saying: Start low (dose) and go slow.

Edibles? Capsules? Flower? What’s the best method for anxiety relief?

Selecting the best method for medicating anxiety disorders truly is a matter of personal preference. Some anxiety sufferers seek the immediate relief of inhaled cannabis to treat an acute panic attack. Others prefer to consume cannabis edibles as a way to stay calm and relaxed for a longer period of time.

The right cannabis consumption method depends on your symptoms, diagnosis and how you react to psychoactive substances. You have many options to choose from, and each method has advantages and disadvantages.

  • Smoking: This is the most popular method. For most cannabis smokers, the effect is immediate and anxiety diminishes in a hurry. But some find smoking unhealthy and seek better alternatives.
  • Vaping: If you are seeking quick relief and prefer not to smoke, vaporization is a viable option. The medicine’s effectiveness and immediacy is comparable to smoking, without the toxins and carcinogens.
  • Edibles: Eating cannabis products works well for those seeking a more extended treatment effect. Edibles, however, are not recommended for those who are suffering from an acute panic attack or who seek immediate relief. Edible cannabis will take up to an hour to digest and provide relief. But the effect will last many hours, depending on the dose.

Essentially, you can consume cannabis in just about any manner and feel some anxiety relief, but some products clearly work better than others.

In order to maximize your chance of success, work with a physician familiar with cannabis and let Greenlight Approved help you focus your search for the product with the best fit. Your Greenlight Approved retail partner will have a wide variety of products to help your treatment program.

Headaches and Cannabis FAQs

Can cannabis treat headaches?

Headaches are one of the most common ailments on the planet. The World Health Organization estimates half of the adult population has suffered one in the past year. There are myriad types varying in pain and duration, and cannabis has been found to be effective for most.

Cannabis has long been used to treat headaches. In 1892 Dr. Sir William Osler, the founder of Johns Hopkins Hospital and regarded as the father of internal medicine, wrote “Cannabis Indica is probably the most satisfactory remedy (for migraines).

Because federal law prohibits scientific trials of marijuana for most medical uses, in a 2017 study conducted under the supervision of the National Institutes of Health found “it appears likely that cannabis will emerge as a potential treatment for some headache sufferers.”

Americans consume 15 billion aspirin a year and that doesn’t take into account other over-the-counter and prescription drugs. In fact, medication overuse is a significant cause of many headaches.

One of the great benefits of cannabis, aside from headache relief, is the noticeable lack of side effects common with traditional treatments. People treating headaches with cannabis reported fewer stomach aches and muscle pains, and fewer incidences of colitis than those taking the prescription medications.

Is cannabis effective on migraines?

Migraines are among the most painful of the many types of headaches and can be disabling and last up to 72 hours. They affect women two to three times more often than men. Much of what fresh scientific research done on marijuana’s effect on symptoms has been done around migraines.

A 2017 Colorado study found that of subjects who suffered acute or chronic migraine, 55 percent reported being in less pain after taking daily high doses of cannabis. Lower doses didn’t appear to be as effective.

Another study, this one from 2016, revealed that migraine headache frequency decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month with the use of medical marijuana. Most patient’s cannabis daily for migraine prevention. Positive effects were reported in 40 percent of those studied.

Additional research is still needed to determine how exactly cannabis reduces migraines. “We believe serotonin plays a role in migraine headaches, but we are still working to discover the exact role of cannabinoids in this condition,” according to Laura Borgelt, a professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and an author of the 2017 study.

What is the most effective way to consume cannabis for headaches?

In a 2017 Colorado study most respondents found that inhaling — smoking — marijuana treated symptoms much better than edibles. The respondents smoking also said it was easier to control how much cannabis they were taking and there were fewer side effects.

Vaping is also an option and is considered a healthier options. Both smoking and vaping get the cannabis’ active ingredients into the patients’ system quicker than edibles, beverages of capsules.

In the Colorado study, 40 percent of chronic headache sufferers reported that the number of migraine headaches were cut in half while using smoked cannabis as a treatment.

Rubbing a cannabis-infused lotion or crème directly on the forehead and temples has been found to provide quick relief. Some headache sufferers report that edibles may amplify the effects of headaches.

Joint Pain and Cannabis

Will cannabis help with arthritis?

Arthritis is one of the most common ailments in the world, with more than 50 million people affected in the U.S. alone. Arthritis is actually a large category that includes more than 100 conditions affecting joints and surrounding tissue. Symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling aching joints are common. There is no known cure for arthritis, but there is hope: Cannabis.

Cannabis has a superior safety profile than steroids, opiates and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are often used to treat arthritis discomfort. Unlike cannabis, these medications come with increased risk of heart attack, stroke, weakening of bones and addiction. Cannabis is known to be as much as 20 times more effective than aspirin at reducing inflammation.

A 2017 study from the University of California, Berkeley revealed that 92 percent of Americans would choose cannabis over opioid medication, saying cannabis works just as well and with fewer side effects. Both THC and CDB, the two most discussed compounds in cannabis have been proven to be pain relievers. Both reduce inflammation, the main cause of the many varieties of joint pain.

Are topical ointments the best treatment method?

All consumption methods are effective for combatting joint pain, but topicals are ideal – especially for those of you who do not want the euphoric side effect. These cannabis-infused lotions, creams and balms provide an effective dose of cannabinoid medicines directly to a localized area. This fights pain and inflammation directly at the source.

If you tried IcyHot or Tiger Balm or Bengay, you are familiar with how these medicinal salves work. Simply apply the medicine directly on the effected joint.

Cannabis-infused topicals work by binding to a network of CB2 receptors found throughout the body and are activated either by the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoids or by “phytocannabinoids” such as THC and CBD.

It is important to note that even if a topical contains THC, it still won’t induce euphoria or the familiar cannabis “high.” When used in topicals, cannabinoids are unable to enter the bloodstream.

Other methods of consumption (inhalation, edibles, tinctures, etc.) will also help relieve joint pain. But applying a topical is recommended as a first attempt at relief.

The rule is, as always, start low and go slow. And always consult the staff at your Greenlight Approved retailer.

How does cannabis treat joint pain?

For millennia, cannabis has been used as a pain relief treatment. As the opioid addiction crisis spreads across the country, a growing number of Americans are turning to cannabis to treat joint pain. And for good reason: Cannabis has been shown in study after study to be effective for acute and chronic pain.

Most joint pain is caused by inflammation, which is the body’s biological response to injury and a defense against diseases. A lot of things cause inflammation: twisting an ankle, repetitive movement, a breakdown in your immune system and degenerative joint damage are common.

The body releases chemicals in the bloodstream in an attempt to protect the joints. It works to heal wounds, but it can also play a role in some chronic diseases. Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and other joint-related ailments are overwhelmed with inflammation. Cannabis is twice as effective as hydrocortisone and twenty times more effective than aspirin in reducing inflammation.

THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis responsible for the euphoric effect, shuts down inflammatory proteins and calms the immune system. CBD, which does not produce euphoria, promotes relaxation and increased pain relief. One leading researcher noted an ”entourage effect” where THC, CBD and the more than 100 compounds in cannabis work in concert to address joint pain.

In 2014, researchers from the University of South Carolina found that THC dampens the immune system and deactivates inflammatory proteins.

Different strains of marijuana will produce different effects. Consult staff at your GREENLIGHT APPROVED retailer about what works best for your condition and what activities you plan on doing while using.

Nausea and Cannabis

What does scientific research say about cannabis as a treatment for nausea?

A helpful side effect of cannabis is it revives appetite. Along with the analgesic effects of its most discussed compounds, THC and CBD, cannabis has proven in numerous studies to reduce nausea and vomiting.

One of the first well-known modern medicinal uses of marijuana was to stop the weight loss and muscle wasting of AIDS patients in the 1980s.

It is frequently cited by chemotherapy patients as the one substance that allowed them to keep food down after treatment. According to a 2016 report from Dr. Donald Abrams, a renowned oncologist and cancer specialist at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine: “For the cancer patient, cannabis is useful in combatting anorexia, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, and depression.”

Abrams’ study showed that patients receiving chemotherapy found that, as an antiemetic, cannabis was more effective than most pharmaceutical drugs such as prochlorperazine, metoclopramide and domperidone.

A 2011 British Journal of Pharmacology study also demonstrated the efficacy of cannabis in reducing nausea and vomiting. And according to a 2013 survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 76 percent of physicians responding from around the world were in favor of medicinal cannabis, even though many came from jurisdictions in which it is totally illegal. A 2014 WebMD survey reported that 82 percent of U.S. oncologists and hematologists were in favor of patients having access to medical cannabis—representing the strongest approval among all medical subspecialties.

How does cannabis help prevent nausea?

Anti-nausea medications are called antiemetics, and prescription drugs such as Nabilone and Dronabinol are often prescribed for patients suffering from cancer. Antiemetics work by blocking serotonin and dopamine, both of which are associated with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). The components in cannabis work much the same way.

The feeling of being nauseous often has much more to do with brain than the stomach. Cannabinoid receptors are found in areas of the brain associated with nausea. The active ingredients in cannabis act on specific pathways found in the body known as cannabinoid receptors. These receptors help regulate many bodily functions. Research shows that cannabinoid receptors suppress nausea and vomiting when they’re activated.

There are more than 100 compounds in cannabis, including terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids and other chemical components. The body absorbs cannabis because it is similar to the cannabinoids the body naturally produces. Research suggests that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) both relieve nausea and stimulate appetite in people receiving chemotherapy.

However, THC alone is not as effective as whole plant cannabis. Marinol, which is a pharmaceutical form of 100 percent THC, has been on prescribed since the 1980s to treat nausea. But the efficacy of Marinol has proven to be inferior to inhaled cannabis.

Smoke, vape or eat: what method is best for nausea?

Non-smoked methods of cannabis consumption are the preferred option for many users who are concerned about health effects of smoking. But for nausea sufferers, inhalation may be the most effective treatment. For those who choose not to smoke, vaporization is an inhaled form that may be preferable.

Edible cannabis may not be the best option for two reasons:

  1. Eating or drinking cannabis requires your body to digest the cannabis and relief take up to two hours. For most nausea sufferers, immediate treatment is needed.
  2. Many nausea patients have difficulty keeping food down. The mere act of swallowing something as small as a pill or capsule can induce vomiting in many cases, especially those undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Smoking and vaping deliver immediate relief. Inhalation also allows you the ability to maintain the proper dosage throughout the day. More cannabinoids are absorbed in inhaled form than in ingested form, since the body attempts to metabolize any ingested medication before absorption.

According to a report from the Institutes of Medicine: “In patients already experiencing severe nausea or vomiting, pills are generally ineffective, because of the difficulty in swallowing or keeping a pill down and slow onset of the drug effect. Thus, an inhalation (preferably not smoking) cannabinoid drug delivery system would be advantageous for treating chemotherapy-based nausea.”

Vaporized cannabis is a healthier alternative to traditional smoked cannabis, and avoids many issues encountered with the ingestion of other medications. If is highly recommended that you start low and go slow when treating nausea with inhaled cannabis. Take small “sips” while vaporizing to prevent coughing, which often exacerbates the nausea.

Make sure to consult staff at your GREENLIGHT approved retailer. Be specific about your symptoms and what brought them on.

Sleep and Cannabis

Will cannabis help me get a good night’s sleep?

It seems so easy: Just put your head on the pillow, close your eyes and snooze. But about 40 million Americans have some sort of sleep issues. Research clearly indicates that cannabis can help those with sleep disorders.

Studies have shown that cannabis can improve the duration and quality of sleep. Cannabis, in all its forms — edibles, vapor and smoking the plant — relaxes users. A 1973 study suggests that THC reduces the amount of time it takes those with insomnia to fall asleep. Another study found that those that regularly used THC fell asleep faster.

“Marijuana is an effective sleep aid because it restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern lifestyle,” says Dr. Matt Roman, a medical marijuana physician.

In a study published in January 2018, ‘having trouble getting, and staying, asleep,” is among the chief reasons given by those seeking certification/prescription for medical marijuana use.

What is it about cannabis that gets me sleepy?

The science of why cannabis promotes sleep is not entirely clear, but most as more research is conducted, there are a few explanations.

  • CBD-THC: There are literally more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, the two most prominent being cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol THC. CBD has calming, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic effects. It also provides a longer sleep time and improves insomnia, according to research. THC appears to be the more effective cannabinoid for sleep. Cannabis containing increased levels of THC make it easy to fall asleep quicker and will help modulate breathing. (NOTE: While CBD and THC garner most of the attention, researchers now believe another endocannabinoid – cannabinol (CBN) – may be a helpful “sleep molecule.” CBN is most commonly associated with cannabis that has aged or exposed to oxygen, releases the sedative properties of THC when these two cannabinoids are used together.)
  • Indica-Sativa: Generally speaking, indica and sativa are the two major cannabis types. Nearly all cannabis sold today is a combination or “hybrid” of the two. Indica strains tend to promote relaxation and a “body” high and is commonly used to treat insomnia. Sativas produce a “head” high that can calm an anxious mind. When it comes to sleep aid, most experts suggest indica-dominant cannabis.
  • Terpene Profile: Terpenes are the aromatic compounds in all plants – including cannabis – and they interact with your body in many ways. Terpenes found in lavender and chamomile, for example, both promote sleep. Researchers are discovering that the terpenes in cannabis may help promote sleep. Sedating terpenes include: limonene, linalool, myrcene, pinene and terpinolene.
Does cannabis help with sleep apnea?

Generally speaking, sleep apnea is a condition that makes it more difficult to stay asleep. For those with the condition, muscles in the airway relax during sleep. This can lead to difficulty breathing that can bring the affected out of deep sleep or wake them entirely. It is a medical condition that requires a medical diagnosis.

The medical marijuana community has long held that the substance can be used to treat the condition. But because it is illegal on the federal level, no substantive scientific research has been done. However, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health recently showed that a type of synthetic cannabis was an effective treatment.

Marijuana may also help with specific conditions like sleep apnea, where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People suffering from this condition often stop breathing during the night.

THC has been shown to help calm or stabilize this type of sleep-disordered breathing.
In a 2013 study, researchers administered synthetic THC to sleep apnea patients, and found that their nighttime breathing and symptoms improved in a dose-dependent manner.

How long before bedtime should I medicate?

Like all medications, timing is key when it comes to cannabis as a sleep aid. And since there are many ways to consume cannabis, answering this question is complicated.

Inhalation (smoking or vaping) is the most common consumption method. If you prefer this way to ingest your cannabis, give yourself 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed. You should feel relaxed and find it easier to fall asleep.

Edibles, beverages, tinctures and capsules can take hours before you feel the effects, but these methods are much longer lasting. Edibles require patience – and some trial and error –before figuring out the maximum benefit. Because edible cannabis needs to be processed through the digestive system, the medicinal benefits can last eight to 12 hours.

Dosing is just as important – if not more so – than timing. Research has shown that cannabis consumers experience improved sleep with smaller doses, especially when treating something in addition to sleep disturbances, such as pain, spasticity, PTSD. Greenlight Approved always recommends the “start low and go slow” method. When it comes to sleep, a little can go a long way.

Stress and Cannabis

Will cannabis allow me to relax and calm my stress?

Everyone has stress. It is nature’s way of keeping us safe. However, the same stress chemicals that protect us can also cause complicated and dangerous health risks. Fortunately, there is a safe and natural medical treatment to help cope with stress: Cannabis.

Relaxation and stress relief are overwhelmingly the most commonly perceived benefits of cannabis use, according to survey’s conducted by the UK’s Independent Drug Monitoring Unit. And a Yahoo News and Marist College survey found nearly 35 million adults in America used marijuana. Thirty-seven percent of these respondents turned to the recreational drug simply for relaxation.

Studies also show that in states with some form of legal cannabis, doctors prescribed less pharmaceuticals of all classes: opiates, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and others.

The endocannabinoid system, the part of the human body and brain responsible for how we behave, feel, think and respond, is greatly affected by chronic stress. Over an extended period of time, chronic stress will interrupt the production of these important cannabinoids, leading to mood swings, breakdowns, and depression.

Researchers from Washington State University may finally have discovered scientific evidence that cannabis reduces stress. The 2017 study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, found that regular cannabis users were significantly better at keeping their cool under stressful situations compared to those who did not use marijuana.

Will cannabis help with post-traumatic stress disorder?

PTSD affects nearly eight million Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Although anyone can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, the condition affects women much more than men.

Every day, about 20 veterans commit suicide in America, according to a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan developed PTSD. And among those veterans who suffer from PTSD, cannabis is the most popular substance requested since 2009.

According to Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist and leader in PTSD cannabis research, CBD receptors through the brain and spinal cord are particularly concentrated in the emotional center of the brain where the amygdala and hippocampus are located. “There is a unique neural pathway between all of those structures that deals with fear and memory. The thinking is there may be excessive firing within those structures in patients that have PTSD. So, the calming effect [of cannabis] may reduce the neuronal firing in those structures,” Sisley says. It offers “a capacity not to forget bad memories but to not fixate on them.”

When it comes to selecting the right cannabis product for PTSD, most experts suggest CBD-dominant strains. CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient, contains anti-anxiety and antipsychotic properties, which are thought to balance out the oftentimes intense effects of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid. This is especially true for patients who are overly sensitive to anxiety and paranoia.

What is the proper dose for stress relief?

Less is more. A study published in 2017 by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago report that low levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, clearly reduces stress, but in a highly dose-dependent manner. Very low doses lessened stress and promoted relaxation. Higher doses – enough to produce a mild “high” – actually increased anxiety.

“The doses used in the study produce effects that are equivalent to only a few puffs of a cannabis cigarette,” said Emma Childs, lead researcher of the Chicago study. “We didn’t want to include a much larger dose, because we wanted to avoid potential adverse effects or cardiovascular effects that can result from higher doses of THC.

“Our findings provide some support for the common claim that cannabis is used to reduce stress and relieve tension and anxiety,” said Childs. “At the same time, our finding that participants in the higher THC group reported small but significant increases in anxiety and negative mood throughout the test supports the idea that THC can also produce the opposite effect.”

“Start Low and Go Slow” is a concept embraced by Greenlight Approved retailers with regard to cannabis for novice users. You can always add more, but once you have consumed you can’t “turn off” the effect very well. When it comes to stress relief, it would be wise to follow this advice.


What is the primary difference between CBD and THC?

There is a simple answer to this question: Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a component in cannabis that provides many medicinal benefits but does not cause a psychoactive “high.” Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly referred to as THC, is the ingredient in cannabis that creates the euphoric side effect. THC also has medicinal value.

But this answer merely scratches the surface between the two endocannabinoids. Cannabis has been used medicinally by humans for more than 7,000 years. In recent times, scientists have used modern methods to identify the hundreds of chemicals found in the plant. By identifying and isolating these compounds, scientists have been able to test them to begin to better understand their effect and efficacy when treating health conditions. They have also been able to investigate their role in sleep, circulation, appetite and many other human functions.

In order to fully understand THC and CBD, you should have a basic knowledge of the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was discovered in the 1990s by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and a team of researchers in Israel. Dr. Mechoulam and his team identified a naturally occurring system composed of cannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters and receptors in the body. The receptors are distributed throughout the body, from head to toe. They determined that we produce our own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. Our bodies were literally built to recognize and bind with the chemicals in cannabis. That is one reason why cannabis is believed to be so effective as a therapeutic tool.

THC has been the rock star of cannabinoids, stealing most of the spotlight because of its psychoactive effects. This is the compound that alters your consciousness and provides the euphoric feelings. If you have ever exercised and felt the euphoric “runner’s high” that athletes talk about, you have been high. Maybe you weren’t high on cannabis, but you were high on another chemical, our body’s natural equivalent to THC, Anandamide.

CBD has been garnering more headlines lately because of its promising therapeutic benefits. Mainstream media has been full of stories detailing children with epilepsy who have made miraculous recoveries due to CBD-based medications.

CBD is non-psychotropic. No matter how much you consume, CBD will not alter your perception or get you “high.” In fact, it seems to have a dampening effect on how THC makes you feel. Because of the way it interacts with other receptors in our bodies, some scientists believe CBD may also hold promise in helping modulate opiate cravings or addiction.

OK…THC gets me euphoric and CBD doesn’t. What else should I know?

There is no doubt that many people –even experienced cannabis consumers – seek out THC-heavy strains because of their desire for some psychoactive effect. But THC also provides these benefits:

  • Analgesic: It relieves pain and inflammation.
  • Relaxation: It creates a state of relaxation and well-being.
  • Drowsiness: It induces sleep.
  • Appetite stimulant: It creates the urge to eat.
  • Muscle control: It suppresses spasms and seizures.
  • Nausea suppressant: It helps control stomach queasiness, especially for chemotherapy patients.

THC can be helpful for those battling the effects of chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, and severe spinal injuries.

As for CBD, more doctors and patients alike are discovering the various medicinal benefits, such as:

  • Antidepressant: It combats anxiety and depression.
  • Anticonvulsant: It suppresses seizure activity.
  • Antioxidant: It fights neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Antipsychotic: It combats psychosis.
  • Neuro-protective: It protects the neurons in the brain.
  • Antiemetic: It reduces nausea and vomiting.
  • Anti-inflammatory: It combats inflammation and the associated pain.
  • Anti-tumoral: It combats tumor and cancer cells.
How do I know what’s the correct CBD to THC ratio for me?

Now that you know the difference between CBD and THC, let’s discuss how these endocannabinoids work in conjunction with each other. Cannabis researchers have discovered the “entourage effect,” meaning that all the components in the plant act in concert to create a synergistic effect.

This theory places great value on the medicinal value of the whole plant, not single isolated compounds like we are used to in Western medicine. For cannabis to be truly effective, the smart consumer will search for products that have a beneficial CBD to THC ratio. Depending on your age, ailment, tolerance, mood and cannabis experience, your CBD to THC ratio number will vary.

In some cases – such as spasms, pediatric seizure disorders and mild depression – a ratio of 10:1 (10 parts CBD to 1-part THC) may be most effective. For cancer, neurological disease, and many other ailments, patients may benefit from a more balanced ratio. Research demonstrates that a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio is effective for neuropathic pain.

As a cannabis consumer, it is important for you to understand the key distinctions of the two main cannabinoids and how they interact with each other and your body. It can be a very interesting and even fun adventure as you learn. Ask your Greenlight Approved retailer for more guidance as you learn more about the THC.

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