In the early 2000’s, medical marijuana (also known as medical cannabis) began to be distinguished from recreational marijuana (or recreational cannabis). The major difference is that recreational strains of cannabis have higher levels of THC and a lower ratio of CBD to THC.
However, medical marijuana still contains THC, and the effects and accompanying “high” that comes from using it can depend on the specific THC:CBD ratio. The exact THC:CBD ratio can vary widely between the different strains of Cannabis plants.
Currently, there is no FDA-approval for the use of marijuana to treat any medical condition, and marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance under the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act. Although the medical use of marijuana is legal in 33 states and a law passed in 2014 prevented the federal government from prosecuting individuals complying with state medical marijuana laws, the regulation and oversight of medical marijuana remains spotty at best.
Because it still contains THC, chronic marijuana use (even the use of chronic medical marijuana use) is associated with detrimental effects on executive functions, learning, memory, and attention – and can also lead to reduced motivation and the induction of psychosis in populations at risk. And the FDA has stated that there is insufficient evidence concerning safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana.
CBD is not the same thing as medical marijuana. CBD is just one of the hundreds of phytochemicals isolated from plants of the Cannabis genus. The term “marijuana” or “cannabis” refers to the whole plants itself, with all of its chemical components, including THC.
Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and has an excellent safety profile. A CBD-containing drug (Epidiolex) was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of severe childhood epilepsies.