Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Whether I am passing time waiting in a grocery store line, or I’m answering the company phone, people keep asking the same two questions when they find out I own a Industrial Cannabis company:
“Should I buy CBD without THC?” or “Will the THC get me ‘high’ if I take a ‘full-spectrum’ product?”
Side Note: Full-Spectrum refers to industrial hemp oils that enjoy the benefits of multiple cannabinoids including CBD, CBD & ∆9-THC
Question: Why are people still asking these questions over and over? How have we - as an industry - not helped our potential customer base to move on to more subtle and nuanced questions? After years of conventions, thousands of farms, and more trade shows than I care to consider, I think I have some insight.
Before I go any farther, I would like to preface this blog post with the following disclaimer – this post is not intended to educate the industry leaders who have already mastered their voice, this post is for FS-Origin's customer base who are still learning about cannabinoids and wish to understand why FS-Origins focuses on full-spectrum products (as opposed to CBD Isolate based products, or THC-Free Products) .
Generally speaking, if you have reached out to a Industrial Cannabis centric company, you’ve spoken to a member of a specific discipline, hopefully they were a “Hempsters” [aka students of the hemp industry] and their primary objective should have been to guide you towards the right application required to meet your specific needs (not their personal beliefs) for using a cannabinoid oil based product. If you were engaged in conversations with an Industrial Cannabis (aka Industrial Hemp) based company, you have most likely spoke to one of three cannabis personalities:
1. Team THC
2. Team Amazon Prime
3. Team Small Business
To summarize my theory, team “Amazon Prime” are the get-rich-quick-ers, they believe in the online dominance of a single product that has been re-labeled under various names in order to own the first two pages of each Amazon search. Generally speaking, these are fulfillment experts who have created their fortunes selling monthly subscriptions that you have long-since forgotten about (but it is only $0.99 per month that is being charged to your credit card, so they fly under the radar with company names like “Quick Bots fulfillment”) or monthly razor clubs that allow for you the “freshest shave” of your life. They generally have a team of qualified micro-marketers and social media savants – they love your money more than they care about your health and they know how to buy bulk cheaply and sell at boutique price points (1000% margin points). Be careful with these pretty labels, they are the product of years of marketing research and they know how to pull you in. These are the ultimate “yes” folks, their answers will reflect whatever you want to hear, or whatever will help you to complete a sale.
Now team “Small Business” – in my experience, these are the unsung heroes of every industry. They are the very definition of grass root marketing and they make their mark with a combination of passion and quiet desperation. They stand by the courage of their convictions, and they lack any semblance of apathy because they firmly believe in their cause. But, like every martyr type conviction, they are willing to die for what they believe in – meaning, they will continue to produce products at any cost, even if it means at the cost of their business or worse, their customer’s trust. 9 times out of 10, the products you purchase on these shelves contain a piece of the heart and soul of the proprietor, but at the end of a long fiscal quarter, their bills begin to pile up and decisions must be made regarding keeping the doors open (this is when that clean boutique oil historically begins to be replaced with lesser qualities oils that were mass produced by extraction outfits that may lack the credibility their clients depend upon). These are the story and anecdote champions – they know, and sell the products they do, because they have witnessed the powerful effects of cannabinoids in their family, friends, and clients.
Now team “THC” - This team is generally the most vocal and most outspoken [commonly seen on State’s Capital steps, on social media platforms, or creating videos for all to see], they dominate the media with their beliefs that Marijuana is not “addictive” and Marijuana has “never” caused a car accident. They believe firmly that THC is the end all be all, and that THC will eventually both open the eyes of the world and at the same time cure the disease that kept those eyes closed. The players on this team are both pro and anti-establishment – they believe that the entire cannabis plant (especially the THC) should be celebrated, left alone and not commercialized, while at the same time, the government should establish regulations that adhere to their firmest belief structures (this is where the battle over +/- ∆9 THC debates begin to take place) – which is kind of ironic when you think about it. These folks often get lost in circular conversations based on a mixture of regurgitated science and heartfelt passion, which is why you can have a 90-minute conversation that leads to no more clarity on your question than you started off with (you are mixed/conflicted with this team, you want to share their passions and beliefs but you can sense the ambiguity in every sentence that leaves you hungry for the actual science/facts).
I come to odds with “Team THC” quite often, mostly because I do not share their maxims. Where I firmly believe that THC is critical for a quality of life that all people deserve, I do not believe that it [THC] is an innocent molecule that is at peace with the world. THC can cause havoc in our lives and it can be as addictive as any other chemical that creates an altered mental state. We have all seen that person that medicate too often with marijuana, that is because, like any other chemical/molecule that can alter a mindset, addictive personalities will do whatever it takes to keep it in their lives. It's unfortunate that some people used their Medicinal Cannabis licenses to abuse a plant that provides so much relief to others.
So, let us talk about THC, as well as some of the other cannabinoids…I mean that is why you clicked on my tantalizing header!
First, let’s go over some basic fundamentals:
Cannabinoids are defined as the terpenophenolic constituents of Cannabis sativa L and until recently, the phenylterpenoid Δ9‐THC and some of its naturally occurring derivatives were the only plant natural products known to directly interact with cannabinoid receptors. However, in the last few years, several non‐cannabinoid plant natural products have been reported to act as cannabinoid receptor ligands.
The cannabis plant contains more than 120 different phytocannabinoids.
and this prompts us to define ‘phytocannabinoids’ as any plant‐derived natural product capable of either directly interacting with cannabinoid receptors or sharing chemical similarity with cannabinoids or both based on our definition of “cannabinoids” mentioned earlier.
Phytocannabinoids act on your endocannabinoid system, which works to keep your body in homeostasis, or balance. If you ask a yogi, “balance” is just a moment in time, something you have to move past in order to better understand, it’s esoteric to your personal function and cannot be lumped into a group think. So why then do some groups look at certain cannabinoids as the Buddha of the plant based medicine world? Shooting from the cuff, I would suggest that the “limited” data [I can feel the anger growing within some readers that just want to choke me for this statement] that has been accepted (backed by clinical trials, white papers, etc.) by the scientific community but at the same time has been left to interpretation based on fears of losing that same communities accolades. So, as sentient beings, we do what we have always done, we “Mansplain” (sometimes aggressively) to anyone that asks, and we create our own interpretations.
Now let's talk quickly on the “Entourage Effect”
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are by far, two of the most well-researched and popular phytocannabinoids. For decades pro-cannabis entrepreneurs have taken to the streets in protest, demanding that these molecules have their day for all people to benefit from. These activists have literally paved the path that brought Cannabis 1.0 to the mainstream. As the cannabis industry has evolved, we have seen Medicinal Cannabis business replaced with Recreational Cannabis shops, and people have come to depend on cannabis to help them cope with life/reality, or to treat medical issues, or to simply help them to be the best Call of Duty Soldier in the history of “Modern Warfare”.
There is no denying the benefits of the cannabis plant, I have seen first-hand how it can “cure” ailments, destroy relationships and foster intellectual growth! After all, I live in Colorado, less than 20 years ago my state was plagued by a population of 21+ year old drivers suffering from glaucoma, and now I can drive down I-70 without fearing being hit by a blind driver (added to the fact that not a single car accident has ever occurred due to cannabis) so thank you CANNABIS for your assistance in driver safety.
People can take CBD and THC in a variety of ways, and they can be consumed separately or together – you may read on labels “2:1 THC to CBD”, and there is a good reason for this distinction, the two molecules have a symbiotic relationship…they play well together in the same sandbox.
Referring to the relationship of CBD:THC alone as "entourage effect" is misleading, when we speak about the entourage effect we should be including all aspects of the cannabis plant that perform a very delicate dance when striving to find homeostasis within our bodies.
Research across the globe, both public and private, suggests that full-spectrum extracts [cannabinoids — along with smaller organic compounds in the cannabis plant] including terpenes and terpenoids are far more effective when taken together than taking individually [CBD Isolate only products for example].
For the novel CBD user its important that you understand the differences in the products you are looking to consume. When looking into products, you will notice terms like “Broad-Spectrum”, or “THC Free” [which is a 100% a false statement and be mindful of any label that states this] or “Full-Spectrum” – these are just identifiers for the type of oil that was used in the production of that particular product. Knowledge is power, and do not let yourself be told which is best for you personally, ask questions and determine your final decisions based on educated deductions. Just because a full-spectrum profile has minimal amounts of THC in it, that DOES NOT MEAN that you are going to get HIGH! At 0.3 THC or less, your body should not feel any effects of the chemical, except for additional medical benefits such as pain relief.
Most "Full-Spectrum" products created by reputable businesses will ensure that their final products meet and exceed the ∆9-THC requirements set by the US Government in order for it to be compliant. USDA compliance states that THC levels must be <0.3 ∆9-THC [think of 0.3 ∆9-THC simply as an obscenely small amount]. Again, THC is incredibly beneficial if you are looking for pain relief, or help with nausea or vomiting, as well as a number of other issues, and you do not have to ingest such a large amount of the molecule that you will experience a change in your mental state – so I would suggest trying a “full-spectrum” product if you are currently in a position in your life where you do not have to worry about random testing for THC in your bloodstream.
When taking full-spectrum oils, you are ingesting numerous phytocannabinoids and terpenes together, this type of profile can/may provide additional therapeutic benefits to your body that a Broad-Spectrum Oil profile can not, as well as create a balance within your body often referred to as homeostasis.
A number of conditions have been studied in conjunction with the entourage effect. A 2011 review of studies in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking terpenes and phytocannabinoids together “may” be beneficial for: · pain · anxiety · inflammation · epilepsy · cancer · fungal infection
Don't be binary with your thinking
So, here is my suggestion when looking at alternatives to pharmaceutical chemicals for any number of ailments or medical conditions you may currently be suffering from - try not to be binary when dealing with cannabinoids and terpenes!
Are Full-Spectrum oils endorsed by your favorite athlete on Instagram, probably not, as many professional athletic associations consider THC to be a “performance enhancing” compounds. When major cannabinoids like THC and CBD are used together with minor cannabinoids like CBG or CBN and natural terpenes, a synergistic influence creates the balance that many people are looking for daily, and perhaps that balance is what major athletic associations fear - though I would hope that balance is what you would hope your star athletes would attain when being paid millions of dollars.
Did you know that when used together, THC and CBD have shown promising results in the following areas:
· Inhibiting cancer cell growth
· Bone Growth
· Reducing seizures and or convulsions
· Reducing blood sugar levels
· Reducing Inflammation
· Reducing risk of arterial blockage
· Reducing small intestine contractions
· Reducing vomiting and nausea
· Pain Relief
· Anxiety Relief
· Suppression of Muscle Spasms
· Sleep Aid
“Sola Dosis Facit Venenum”
Some students of eastern medicine may have heard the statement “Sola Dosis Facit Venenum” (dose alone determines the poison) and this message has never been more appropriate than in today's society, where “EXTRA STRENGTH” is seen on everything from coffees to dish soap, but that doesn’t mean that you have to apply "extra strength" to cannabinoids! Over the years I have come to realize that a 500mg dosage in my full-spectrum tincture is more beneficial than the 3,500mg CBD Isolate dosage sold as “extra" strength – a label that suggests to the novel user that pain/aches/anxiety would be managed "extra" quick.
“I didn’t realize I was dealing with such debilitating back pain because I was medicating with CBD, it wasn’t until I sneezed and woke up on the floor of my condo that I realized my back issues were much more severe than just the pain I was managing” ~ Aaron Furman
So, back to the original purpose of the article, should you take CBD and THC together? To this I say ABSOLUTELY!
My suggestion is to treat ∆9-THC like sugar, if you know you have a sweet tooth, tread lightly because our minds can create cravings that are bodies are not needing. Cannabinoids can/may alleviate symptoms that cause our bodies discomfort, and when our our bodies are at their best, we are in homeostasis with self. This balance can is what we strive for, but, like any medication, we need to know when to turn off/down the dosage (I can feel some of you on Team THC just seething at this comment) in order to keep the dependence factor at a minimum - let's face it there are a lot of people in today's society with addictive personalities that commonly abuse any chemical that creates a euphoric feeling physically or mentally.
A small amount of THC can have overwhelming potential when dealing directly with reducing nausea, or vomiting, relieving pain, stimulating appetite or even suppressing muscle spasms when combined with other cannabinoids (especially a healthy dosage of CBD). We have all heard the term “Less is More” and that has been my personal experience with ∆9-THC, so this is my suggestion to you, if you are fearful that the “THC” aspect of Industrial Cannabis will cause you to have a change in your mental status, then try a minor dose. You do not have to purchase products from Recreational or Medical Cannabis establishments, there are thousands of Industrial Cannabis facilities across the United States. Just be mindful and educate yourself, there are little differences in how Cannabinoids are produced and manufactured – a large portion of my customer base with FS-Origins comes back monthly because they love that our oils have never been exposed to aggressive or harmful solvents (we only use Carbon Dioxide in our extraction process) that can change alter the molecules [isomerization].
Side Note: I personally have never been a fan of mind altering substances, I like to keep my faculties in check. When I first began experimenting with Cannabinoids, I shared the same fears that many have - will the THC content in a full-spectrum profile get me "high", I soon came to realize that products that maintain .3 ∆9-THC will not affect my mental status. In fact, without the THC in my full-spectrum products, I fear that I would be constantly battling for a better quality of life. “Broad Spectrum” products are great and they serve a purpose (if you are a pro athlete, or a police officer or fire personnel, that randomly get drug tested for THC) but there is no substitute for the entourage effect. Again, know your dosage! Bigger does not necessarily mean better and a 500mg tincture can be just as effective at managing that pain in your ass, if not better than that extra strength 3,500mg CBD Isolate dosage…just saying.
Also: Phytochemicals like terpenes and flavonoids "may" be beneficial to brain health
Research from 2018 found that certain flavonoids and terpenes may provide neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. Researchers proposed that these compounds could improve CBD’s therapeutic potential.
And if you are still on the fearful of full-spectrum products that have trace amounts of THC present, I would ask you if you had the same fears when you first decided to ingest opiods that were being prescribed by your Primary Care Physician?
In fact, some studies actually suggest that CBD “may” help reduce unwanted mind altering effects of THC, as well as the side effects sometimes experienced by ∆9-THC users. Any product listed with “Full-Spectrum” may allow for your to experience [and hopefully enjoy] the benefits of THC, CBD, minor-cannabinoids and terpenes/terpanoids playing in a delicate harmonic balance for the benefit of your personal endocannabinoid system (ECS) – and yes, SCIENCE has 100% identified that we ALL have an ECS!
In summary, THC is neither a miracle cure nor evil, nor innocent.Your use-case will let you know what formulation is most appropriate and what level of THC is desired or tolerable to you personally (do not let someone tell you what your body knows). The answer isn’t one size fits all, but it isn’t as simple (or complicated) as you might have imagined.When looking at industrial cannabis products, ask questions and make sure you understand the answers that are being given, there are too many products on today’s markets.
~ AARON FURMAN (MANAGING PARTNER AT FS-ORIGINS)