It’s not rocket surgery…

It’s the science of cannabis!

Now, I know what you’re thinking, dear reader: “Mmm, I would love a blueberry muffin right now.” Just kidding. You’re thinking: “People make up stuff about cannabis all the time. Why should I trust a company that sells CBD to give me an honest rundown of the science?” Oh, reader. You are as discerning as you are handsome. You’re right—cannabis companies spout loads of no-good, unverified science. We don’t think they’re trying to be malicious. It’s just that scientific articles can be dense, the science is evolving lickety-split, and conversations about cannabis tend to rile folks up. Detractors will exaggerate how dangerous it is; advocates will exaggerate how awesome it is.

But we believe honesty, transparency, and science are imperative. So whether you’re a long-time Radlander, a cannabis skeptic, or somewhere in between, we’re stoked you’re here.

On this page, we’re answering some common (and less common, but still interesting!) questions about cannabis. Every answer includes links to peer-reviewed, reputable scholarly journals. They can get a little jargon-y, but if you’re a cannabis nerd, they’re fascinating!

Okay? Onward!

Uh... What's cannabis?

Great question! It’s a plant.

 Oh, you wanted more than that? Well, some plants (cannabis included) produce a goop called resin. The resin in cannabis is full of cannabinoids.

Source: PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Patient Version.

Okay, so what are cannabinoids?

Compounds! (And a compound, if that’s your next question, is just a group of elements that are joined together—H2O, for example.)

Cannabis has more than 100 different types of cannabinoids, including the famed THC and CBD. Some are psychoactive. Some aren’t. Ready for a plot twist? Your body is already full of cannabinoids, whether or not you’ve ever touched cannabis.

Source: PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Patient Version.

My body is full of cannabinoids?

Yes! Endocannabinoids! Endo- is a root word meaning “inside.” You can find endocannabinoids (and cannabinoid receptors) in the “immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs” (Alger). The bright side of this is that cannabis has huge therapeutic potential to affect a lot of different parts of the body. The downside is, with such a massive system, it can be hard to target a specific area or organ with cannabis.

Source: Alger, Bradley E. “Getting high on the endocannabinoid system.” Cerebrum.

Why do people fight so much about cannabis?

People have been fighting about cannabis for a long, long time—thousands of years, actually. It’s been cultivated all over the world, and it’s also been outlawed all over the world by many different governments and religions. It was rejected by Taoist China in 600 BCE; prohibited in Islamic Damascus in 1265; banned by the Catholic Pope in 1484. But why?

A few theories. One—wealthy landowners feared their workers would be less productive and subservient if they used cannabis. Two—cannabis was often associated with minority religions and shamanism, and leaders of majority religions saw the prohibition of cannabis as a tool in discouraging minority religious practice. Three—pretty much every psychoactive substance gets prohibited at one point or another. Alcohol. Hallucinogens. Caffeine. Cannabis. Substances that change the way people think tend to stoke fears about social unrest. And the ruling class (who usually prefers to keep ruling) doesn’t want social unrest.

Source: Stoa, Ryan. “A brief global history of the war on cannabis.” The MIT Press Reader.

Cannabis, hemp, CBD, THC... What's the difference?

Cannabis is a genus of plants. A genus is just a biological group. For example, both wolves (Canis lupus) and domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) are in the genus Canis. The most commonly recognized species of cannabis are Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.

Though Cannabis sativa is more widespread, the two species are similar. You can get high from either; both contain cannabinoids.

You probably already have at least a vague picture of cannabis in your head. You know. Pointy green leaves. Also known as pot, weed, marijuana, ganja, and a lot of other things.

Hemp is also cannabis. This can get confusing since laws will sometimes decree that hemp is legal and cannabis is illegal. So what’s the deal? Hemp is cultivated specifically for non-psychoactive purposes. Ever seen a shirt made out of hemp?

Cannabis can be classified as hemp if it has little to no THC.

THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis. It’s the thing that makes your head feel high. CBD is another common compound in cannabis, but it has no psychoactive effect. It won’t make you feel high, and it’s currently being studied widely for potential therapeutic benefits.

THC and CBD oil come from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Don’t confuse CBD oil with hemp seed oil or hemp oil. Hemp seed oil is made from the seeds of hemp plants, and it doesn’t contain cannabinoids. No THC, no CBD. No fun.

So, in sum:

Cannabis is a plant that can contain THC and CBD.

Hemp is a type of cannabis that doesn’t contain THC.

THC is a compound found in cannabis that makes you feel high.

CBD is a compound found in cannabis and hemp that doesn’t make you feel high.

Hemp seed oil or hemp oil is basically just cooking oil.

Source: Hilderbrand, R.L. “Hemp & Cannabidiol: What is a Medicine?” Missouri Medicine.