The UK is experiencing burgeoning mental health issues linked to drug use, with a potent form of high-THC cannabis know as ‘skunk’ responsible for a high percentage of mental health-related hospital admissions. But the other main cannabinoid found in cannabis, CBD, may well offer a way to offset the strong psychotropic effects of too much THC.
While many still argue about the role cannabis can play in mental health issues, there are well-established links between THC and mental health problem. THC has been shown to damage nerve fibres in the brain is associated with the paranoia and anxiety commonly experienced with the use of ‘skunk’, and causes a variety of other psychotropic effects that currently know very little about. Though not experienced by everyone, these effects can be impairing, unpleasant and unwanted. THC also stimulates the appetite, resulting in the so-called ‘munchies’.
There has been much debate over whether the cannabis that the people of UK are smoking nowadays is stronger and, therefore, more dangerous than that of previous generations. While it is true that high-strength cannabis has been in use for centuries, never before has it been so widely available on the streets. So, yes, this is new territory the UK is in, with about ten percent of the population thought to smoke cannabis at least occasionally. And with ‘skunk’, which accounts for about 90 percent of cannabis purchases in the UK, there’s no doubt that millions of people are being exposed to extremely high levels of THC.
And that’s where CBD comes in. You see, scientists have recently learned that CBD does not act upon the cannabinoid receptors in the cells of our brain and body as was thought. CBD actually interacts with THC and other cannabinoids – of which there at least 85 – and effects how they interact with the receptors in our brains and bodies. CBD seems to encourage THC to bind to the CB2 receptor, as opposed to its usually favoured CB1 receptor. You see, when THC binds with too many of those CB1 receptors, certain pathways are triggered which result in apathy, increased appetite and, more than often, your bum sat on the sofa for a very long time.
When CBD, which accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s total cannabinoid extract, inhibits THC from binding to the CB1 receptor, and instead causes it to favour the CB2 receptor instead, the psychotic effects of the associated with CB1 receptor pathways are reduced, resulting in diminished stress, anxiety, and paranoia. CBD has also been shown to stave off memory loss from cannabis use, which could be very useful for remembering those world-changing ideas which you just can’t quite remember the morning after.
SMOKING HIGH-CBD, LOW-THC HEMP IN SWITZERLAND
Over the last few months, in Switzerland, legal cannabis shops have been selling vast amounts of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis – or hemp, as its commonly known. Despite being legal for the last six years, cannabis with THC levels below one percent has only recently been marketed as something that can replace tobacco. Thousands of people in Switzerland are now smoking high-CBD, low-THC cannabis as a substitute for tobacco in their cigarettes and joints. The product is sold in pouches and looks and smells just like its illegal, psychoactive cousin – meaning it’s caused some confusion among the country’s police force.
This is the first time cannabis with such low levels of THC, which is labelled as hemp throughout Europe and the US, has been smoked so widely for its CBD content, which can be as much as 20%, it is claimed. In Bern, Switzerland, the number of retailers registered to sell low-THC, high-CBD cannabis has risen to 140 from just a handful last year, reports Reuters. It is proving to be incredibly popular, with predicted legal sales of $100 million (approx £77 million) by the end of this year.
The smoking of high-CBD hemp not only poses a potential alternative to tobacco for the Swiss population, it opens up a whole new legal market that could possibly spread across the continent. Cannabis with low THC levels, or what we call hemp, is legal in most European countries (cannabis with THC levels less than 0.2% in the UK), and with its potential to counteract the psychotic effects of THC, it could play a profound role in stemming a nationwide overdose.
CBD IS EFFECTIVE AND SAFE
There are plenty of other benefits to low-THC, high-CBD cannabis, which these studies show for opioid addiction, nicotine addiction, depression, PTSD, improving sleep, reducing stress, reducing inflammation, relieving pain, treating migraines, and much, much more. It’s also incredibly safe. It’s nearly impossible to overdose on CBD. Kind of like water, dark chocolate, and steamed kale, it has an unusually low level of toxicity. In fact, in the last 6,000 years, CBD has caused no deaths.
Whether the UK government will ever truly appreciate the immense potential CBD has to help vast numbers of people being negatively affected by ‘skunk’ remains. Although not many people outside of Switzerland have even considered that high-CBD hemp could be used a possible replacement for tobacco, the legal cannabis (hemp) market is set to explode over the next few years as the cannabis plant is studied further and the stigma around it crumbles.
In the meantime, I urge you to take your health into your own hands. Take back responsibility for your own well-being from a government that is wildly misinformed and does not have your best interests at heart. Even if you’re a smoker, there are decisions you can make to improve your health. One of them may be swapping nasty, chemically-rich tobacco for organic, high-CBD hemp buds. It’s the small changes that make a big difference in life.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this article makes no attempt to diagnose or treat any health condition. This article is in no way intended to offer medical advice. It is merely a report of my own experiences with hemp and of the available research on CBD. CBD is not a ‘cure’, it is a very complex chemical derived from an infinitely more complex plant, that we – mankind – know relatively little about. Please employ your own investigative skills and explore the subject yourself. Here are some reputable sources to start you off:
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