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Medical Vs. Recreational CBD: Is There a Difference?

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With the FDA approval of Epidiolex, medical CBD became an option for some patients who had previously used CBD after conducting their own independent research into the cannabinoid’s effectiveness. Approving the first CBD medication, the FDA effectively created two classes of CBD product: medical and recreational CBD. For a public already struggling to understand the benefits of cannabis after decades of being told it held no therapeutic value, the results have been confusing, to say the least. Let’s take a look at how medical CBD changes the hemp landscape and what effect it has on the majority of CBD users.

CBD: Hemp’s Health Helper

Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to by the abbreviation CBD, is one of over 100 active chemical compounds found in all varieties of the cannabis plant, but it’s found in especially high concentrations in industrial hemp. A close relative of marijuana, hemp has a THC level of 0.3% or less by weight, meaning that it won’t get you high, but can provide the other cannabinoids that have made medical marijuana a hot button topic coast to coast. Hemp plants are harvested, processed to extract the CBD oil, then formulated into a wide range of products, whether it be medical CBD, recreational CBD, like CBD gummies, or CBD pet products.

Because of its similarity to marijuana and a long-term campaign by industrial competitors meant to smear its reputation, hemp has spent much of the last 50 years as a schedule 1 controlled substance along with its illicit cousin. Classifying a substance as schedule 1 means that the FDA finds no therapeutic value or potential in it, but it is considered highly addictive, prone to abuse, and highly addictive. None of which, of course, are true about CBD.

With the Farm Bill of 2014 and its successor, the Farm Bill of 2018, industrial hemp was recognized as a separate plant as determined by its ultra-low THC content, and federally legalized for commercial use, interstate sales, and personal use. During this period, British pharmaceutical manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals began Stage 3 clinical trials of an oral cannabidiol solution that would be approved by the FDA in 2018, Epidiolex. This schedule 5 controlled substance, the least restrictive class, became the first medical CBD approved by the FDA. While people have been using recreational CBD to promote their overall health and wellness, the FDA has not approved these supplement products meaning they cannot be sold for medical reasons, prompting some to refer to them as “recreational CBD”.

The Difference Between Medical And Recreational Cannabidiol Products

There are a few key differences between the two classifications of CBD products. One thing that is not different, however, is the CBD itself. Recreational CBD and medical CBD are both cannabidiol. They share the same chemical structure. This structure is what helps determine how and where a substance works in your body to elicit certain results, so both work on the same receptor rites. That, however, is where the similarities end.

  • The Dosage Levels Are Very Different – One of the FDA’s concerns with CBD advertising is that recreational CBD products are delivered in dosage forms and amounts that have not been approved for medical usage. Medical CBD currently is only available as a 100mg/ml oral solution with the actual amount to be administered is determined by your medical professional. Conversely, most strong non-medical CBD mg strengths top out at 50mg/ml with the vast majority being far less.
  • Epidiolex Requires A Prescription – As a drug, Epidiolex requires the supervision of a medical professional with the authority to prescribe controlled substances. It is approved by the FDA to treat specific conditions, and your doctor will determine if it’s right for you and at what dosage. Recreational CBD, however, you can take for any reason you see fit based on your own independent research, whether that is with the advice and consent of a doctor or not.

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  • Medical CBD Is Not Full-Spectrum CBD – To be fair, not all recreational CBD products available online are full-spectrum or whole-plant CBD, but you do have the option to choose it. While CBD is an active compound from cannabis, it is only one of over a hundred. When you choose a full-spectrum product, you’re also giving your body access to these other cannabinoids and terpenes, many of which have their own health and wellness benefits. This entourage effect often creates synergistic results, creating a much greater cumulative effect than if each compound, such as CBD, was taken separately.
  • They May Not Be Processed To The Same Standards – As a drug, medical CBD is manufactured to pharmaceutical standards in a clean environment, and that’s not a level of quality that is required of recreational CBD manufacturers. To be clear, some manufacturers, such as Core CBD, have made the capital investment in multi-million dollar processing equipment, operate a pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing facility, and hold themselves to the highest production standards; however, not every CBD manufacturer chooses to do so. This can make it difficult to find a high-quality product that meets your expectations.

Choose What’s Right For Your Body

Recreational CBD products should never be used to replace medical CBD or any drug without consulting your doctor, but they remain an option for those who want an adjunct to their traditional medical care or who prefer a natural path to better wellness. Start by making sure you’re getting a product from a reputable manufacturer that meets the highest standards and has the certificates of analysis to prove its potency and purity.

At CBD Choice, we pride ourselves on delivering the best non-medical CBD products on the market. If you have any questions about our curated selections, call our CBD experts, and order your recreational CBD online from CBD Choice today!

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