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Distinctions to Help You Breathe Easier: The Differences Between Cannabis, CBD and Tobacco

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, an important topic to me and many others. Between 3-5 million people worldwide contract lung cancer and lung-related diseases from tobacco each year, including approximately 400,000 annual deaths in the U.S alone. As a parent, husband, and somebody who’s interested in health, I want to make sure that what I’m talking about is safe for my community. So today, I’m going to share with you the differences between marijuana, cannabis, hemp, and tobacco.

I geek out on cannabis, so when we’re talking about smoke I think it’s really important for people to understand what actually causes lung cancer.

When we’re talking about the cannabis plant – cannabis sativa – marijuana, hemp, and cannabis are all basically the same thing. The difference is the amount of medicated resin, the actual compounds found in the plant. Hemp is generally grown for fiber, textiles, paper, and similar products. Hemp has a very low amount of THC and CBD because it’s really the plant matter that we’re going for – the fiber.

Marijuana and cannabis are very high in THC and CBD, the active ingredients in the cannabis plant. Marijuana is just a slang term. When we’re talking about cannabis, medical marijuana, medicinal cannabis, or marijuana, those are all basically the same things.

However, it’s really important to note the distinction between THC and CBD.

THC is the main ingredient in cannabis that gets you high, it’s psychoactive. It’s a strong chemical that you feel in your body. In the U.S., this is a regulated chemical that is considered a Schedule I substance with absolutely no medical benefit.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is another compound in the cannabis plant that’s found in hemp, marijuana, and cannabis. It’s a much milder chemical. It doesn’t get a person high, but it does have an altering effect. Even if you have an anxiety attack and take CBD, that alters your state of being. It is legal. You can buy it at Whole Foods or from my website,

Then we have tobacco.

Tobacco is also a plant. It has been an herbal plant for hundreds of years, grown by Native Americans long before any Europeans came to North America. Just like cannabis, people have medicinally used the tobacco plant for healing wounds and more. The active ingredient, nicotine, is similar to the compounds found in hemp, marijuana, and cannabis. We have receptor sites for it and it activates the body.

But this is where the two plants diverge. Essentially, the active ingredient in cannabis versus the active ingredient in tobacco.

A brief explanation: Cancer is when a cell multiplies out of control and creates a tumor. It’s not an evil invader, it’s actually a normal cell in our body that gets confused and triggered into becoming an unhealthy tumor. Nicotine itself is not a cancerous agent. It doesn’t cause cancer, but cured tobacco leaves do create chemicals that trigger cells in your body to become cancerous.

It can be easy for the National Institute of Drug Abuse and people against marijuana legalization to say, “Let’s just test marijuana smoke and we’ll determine that it causes cancer just like tobacco. Then we will tell the world that marijuana is bad.” However, they could not find a consistent link between the chemicals found in marijuana and cancer in our bodies.

It gets a little complicated. Yes, there are carcinogens in the cannabis plant. There are chemicals known to have caused cancer in cells. However, the chemicals in cannabis do not make this occur. Here’s the difference: Once the THC and CBD chemicals from cannabis enter the lungs, they latch onto the cells in the lungs and prevent carcinogens from forcing that cell to become carcinogenic. They are protective. They regulate the cell’s behavior and prevent cancer from occurring in those cells. When nicotine enters the lungs, a very specific cancerous behavior is triggered in cells. That’s why you have such a huge disparity of numbers. There’s actually never been a single case of a human getting lung cancer directly from marijuana smoke. Whereas tobacco smoke kills millions of people across the globe each year.

Here’s another amazing fact! CBD has actually been shown to reduce people’s craving for nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance. But our body does not become physically addicted to the compounds in cannabis. If you take CBD at high dosages, say 100 milligrams per day, you can actually reduce your nicotine cravings. This is essential for smokers. You can even smoke CBD in a vaporizer. I sell it on my website.

As a professional cannabis consultant, a lot of people come to me who have lung cancer or are hoping to prevent cancer. I’ll have cigarette smokers come to me curious about how to use medical marijuana for other ailments. Not only does cannabis not cause cancer, if used correctly it’s actually helping. I strongly believe that cannabis is a much safer medicinal herb for the lungs than nicotine. It’s really important that I help people understand the distinction between the very real dangers of tobacco smoke and the safety of cannabis smoke.

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