CBD molecule in front of blue bubbles

What is CBD & What is It Used For?

Cannabidiol or CBD can be a confusing topic if you’re new to the cannabis industry and learning about cannabinoids. In this guide, we’re going to talk about the cannabinoid itself as well as its effects, benefits, legality, and the differences between the two types of CBD.

  • What is CBD?
  • What Does CBD Do?
  • What are the Benefits of CBD?
  • Is CBD Legal?
  • How Does CBD Make You Feel?
  • What are the Different Types of CBD?
  • FAQs About CBD

What is CBD?

CBD, more formally known as cannabidiol, is an active compound found in cannabis called a cannabinoid. You might know it as one of the most popular cannabinoids on the market, and depending on who you’re talking to, you may have heard a variety of stories about what CBD can and can’t do. Unlike its popular cousin THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating effects—but that hasn’t hindered its popularity. In fact, as CBD continues to make a name for itself, new formulations hit the shelves in the form of CBD oil, extracts, concentrates, capsules, foods, beverages, and more. There are even CBD patches you can wear discreetly throughout the day.

What Does CBD Do?

Talk to anyone who has consumed CBD in one form or another, and they’ll tell you all about how they experience CBD—and sometimes, the experiences are vastly different. This is because CBD interacts uniquely to your body’s endocannabinoid system, just like THC. While THC binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors (moreso with CB1 which we think causes the psychoactive effects), CBD doesn’t really have a lot of interest in binding with CB1 or CB2 receptors. Interestingly, what it seems to be able to do instead is change the way THC affects CB1 and 2 receptors, potentially even reducing both the potency and efficacy of THC.

It’s this unique ability (among other things) that has researchers digging deep into the science behind how CBD works in the body and whether we may one day be able to use it as a treatment for certain conditions. Right now, the only approved use of CBD by the FDA is in an epilepsy treatment called Epidiolex, an oral CBD solution that helps reduce convulsive seizures in people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

What are the Benefits of CBD?

You may be wondering just how CBD can have so many rave reviews from CBD enthusiasts if it's only FDA approved for a condition found in a small population of patients. What are the actual CBD benefits then? While research is still in its early stages, scientists are exploring a couple of the ways CBD could be used. These include:

  • Minimizing anxiety and depression
  • Lessening PTSD symptoms
  • Aiding in treating opioid addiction
  • Reducing chronic pain

It’s important to remember the studies that have been performed for these possible indications are in their infancy and with very small groups of people (and in some cases, animal models). Much more research needs to be done before we can definitively say CBD has any treatment capability outside of a very specific epileptic condition.

Until we have that research, what we can say is that everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different, so the best way to know the benefits of CBD for you is to give it a try. Of course, start slow to minimize the possibility of negative side effects.

Is CBD Legal?

While the US Congress signed the Agriculture Improvement Act in 2018, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and legalizing CBD from hemp origins, that doesn't mean it’s legal across the country. Certain states have their own controlled substances legislation, and they have chosen not to remove hemp from that list. Until they do, the legality of CBD comes into question.

Like with anything related to marijuana, it’s important to do your research to know if you can or cannot have CBD products where you live. 

What Does CBD Make You Feel?

While CBD may not be intoxicating, it’s still a substance being introduced to your body, so there’s a possibility you’ll feel the effects of CBD. For some CBD enthusiasts, they feel relaxed and worry free. For others, they swear that CBD helps to reduce otherwise chronic pain. In the regulated markets, there are some cannabis enthusiasts who look for dispensary products with CBD in them because it provides a different experience for them than something with only THC.

Ultimately, your endocannabinoid system is unique to you, so you may not have the same experience as someone else who consumes CBD. That’s why if you’d like to give it a try, start slow and see how you feel. You can always consume more if you want to.

What are the Different Types of CBD?

So you’re ready to try CBD. You head into your local shop, look at the shelves, and see a plethora of CBD products, ranging from broad spectrums to isolates. Sound familiar? Here’s a quick lesson in the different types of CBD you may find at the store:

Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD products contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant. If you’re a fan of exploring the entourage effect, this is absolutely the product for you. Just know this: there are two types of full spectrum CBD products, the ones you find in a dispensary and the ones you find in a general market. If you’re shopping at a dispensary, a full spectrum CBD product will have every cannabinoid including THC. If you’re shopping at a regular, non-regulated store, full spectrum CBD must adhere to the law and include no more than 0.3% THC.

Broad Spectrum CBD

If you want to experience CBD and terpenes, without any chances of psychoactive effects, then you’ll want to pick up broad spectrum CBD. This product removes all traces of THC, instead focusing on other cannabinoids and, of course, those flavor-packing, aroma-punching terpenes.

CBD Isolate

There is no purer form of CBD on the market than CBD isolate. With this product, all compounds, aside from CBD, have been removed. CBD isolate is literally nearly pure CBD.

Answering FAQs About CBD

The increase in CBD’s popularity means we get a lot of questions about it. Here are some of the questions we hear most often and the answers we share with our customers:

Is CBD the same as marijuana?
CBD is a cannabinoid found in marijuana plants and their hemp cousins. While it’s a part of marijuana, it is not itself marijuana.

Is full spectrum CBD better?
If you want to experience all of the interesting compounds found in marijuana, there’s a chance you’ll find full spectrum CBD better than broad spectrum CBD. That said, there is no health or wellness benefit that makes full spectrum CBD better than any other CBD product.

Can I buy CBD at a dispensary?
Yes, but the CBD you purchase at a dispensary is derived from the marijuana plant, not the hemp plant. The CBD products you find at your local shop, gas station, and grocery store are derived from hemp, and there is not a lot of oversight into the quality of those products outside of ensuring they have no more than 0.3% THC in them.

What does CBD stand for?
CBD is our easy-to-pronounce abbreviation for cannabidiol.

Understanding CBD

While CBD products continue to gain momentum, it’s natural that there’s a lot of information out there about them—including incorrect information. The best way to learn about CBD is to talk to our budtenders and experience it for yourself. You’ll be able to try new products, better understand how CBD feels in your body, and maybe find a new favorite item, too.

Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.