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As more and more states legalize marijuana and cannabis plants, people—especially young adults and teens—are starting to become curious about what products are available to them. Additionally, many are experimenting with vaping these products, usually in the form of THC oil and CBD oil. However, it’s important to note that CBD oil and THC oil impact the body in completely different ways.

Adah Chung is a fact checker, writer, researcher, and occupational therapist.

What Is THC?

In fact, a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that first-time and infrequent users of marijuana were more likely to experience adverse reactions from vaping THC oil. They indicated that these negative impacts were largely due to the enhanced delivery of the oil through vaping. The participants in the study also had more pronounced effects from the drug and experienced significant impacts to their motor skills and cognitive abilities.  

Even though several states allow medical marijuana that contains THC, it is still illegal under federal law. Some states have even made recreational marijuana legal, but it’s also illegal under U.S. law.

Meanwhile, another study published in Addiction found that while vaping nicotine may be safer than smoking cigarettes, the same may not hold true when it comes to marijuana.   In fact, additives, like vitamin E acetate may make that delivery method even more dangerous than simply smoking a joint, putting the vaper’s lungs at a greater risk for injury. Yet, a Gallup Poll indicates that most Americans believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking. In fact, 40% of the respondents felt that marijuana was “not too” harmful.  

In The Guardian, Mike Power writes: “There is now no denying the medicinal value of CBD and THC – not even by the British government, which for years maintained that lie even as it rubber-stamped the cultivation and export of the world’s largest medicinal cannabis crop. But the landmark decision in November 2018 to allow UK doctors to prescribe cannabis under extremely limited circumstances, inspired by the cases of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, whose epilepsy is improved immeasurably by medicinal cannabis products containing both THC and CBD, has left many in a limbo: knowing or believing that cannabis offers a cure, yet remaining unable to access it.”

What’s more, CBD “reduces the expression of proteins involved in creating new fat cells, and it boosts the number of mitochondria in your brown fat cells”, says Men’s Health. This could further increase their fat-stripping power, the scientists suggest.

Cannabis plants are made up of more than 100 different cannabinoids, chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the human brain. These have different impacts on the body and are concentrated to different extents in certain parts of the plant, the BBC reports.

Why and how is it used?

Gels and rubs aimed at athletes are available in shops, while pensioners are using the products in the hope of alleviating arthritis.

The medical effects of CBD aside, “in many cases, the industry is taking consumers for a ride”, says Mike Power in The Guardian. He cites lab tests commissioned by the think tank Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) which analysed high-street offerings and found that more than half of the most popular CBD oils sold do not contain the level of CBD promised on the label.

However, CBD is an exception and is completely legal in the UK, “provided it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved”, or comes from outside the EU.

As Business Matters notes, there is currently “a great deal of confusion around CBD oil UK law”, with the vast majority of cannabinoids listed as controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.