Martha Stewart, Jaleel White and more promote cannabis use: Experts weigh in on THC vs. CBD – USA TODAY

Posted: April 23, 2021 at 12:19 pm

From ancient China to 420, pot has come a long way.

What do Martha Stewart,Jay-Z and Jaleel White (aka Steve Urkel) have in common? They're all in the cannabis business.

They're among many stars, including Snoop Dogg and Seth Rogen, who havejoinedthe industry in recent years and are making bold statements with their products. Stewart'sself-named brand of CBD gummies claims to "make wellnessan easier choice, every day," andRogen'sHouseplant strain of THCpromises to give a "smooth, warmandcalming experience."

These lofty product claims may be seen as marketing ploys in an increasingly competitive industry, but experts say there can be wellness benefits to some of these products.

Here's what they told usabout marijuana and CBD in its various forms ahead of 4/20, an unofficial day that celebrates cannabis culture.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) are both chemicals known as cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, but the two have differing effects and legal restrictions in the U.S.

"THC is (a cannabinoid) that has psychoactive properties, not that it's not healthy for you but it does get you high, unlike CBD," saysCraig Henderson, CEO of Extract Labs, a Colorado-based company that specializes in extracting CBD from hemp plants for products.

CBD's chemical compound doesn't alter a person's mental state and can be harvested from the same place as THC, but it is mostly taken from the hemp cannabis plant.

More: CBD products are popping up in stores near you. Here's what you need to know about them

(Photo: Getty Images)

THC is what's typically known asweed or pot and is legal recreationallyin 15 states.Somestates allow it to be used medicinally under a doctor's supervision.

As more states legalize marijuana, more eyes are turningtoward the industry. Willie Nelson, Gwyneth Paltrow and most recently "Crazy Rich Asians" actor Jimmy O. Yang have lent their names to cannabis products.

Each of their brands promise different results. Kristen Bell's Happy Dance CBD skincare says the products provide "a little more calm," while"Family Matters" actor Jaleel White says his "Purple Urkel" brand is dedicated to celebrating the "many medical breakthroughs" of cannabis.

But those who have been in the industry a little longer than these big-nameendorsers say it's a different type of green catalyzing interest.

More: Celebrities high on marijuana businesses

More: Martha Stewart partners with marijuana producer Canopy Growth to create hemp-derived goods

(Photo: Canopy Growth)

"Moneyis why they're getting involved," saysHenderson."If you're a new CBD company, you haven't been around for four or five years, or just a cannabis company in general, how do you start off strong? You come in with a bunch of money, you bring on a spokesperson that already has a big name for themselves."

In March, New York became the 15th state to legalizemarijuana in the United States. Other states include:

Dr. Patricia Frye, who works with patients in the D.C. area who are interested in cannabis treatments,recommends CBD for those who live in states where marijuana is not legal.

Frye says both CBD and THC can help with sleep, anxiety, metabolism, stress and appetite.

"These cannabinoids are so helpful, (because) people are starting to move away from a lot of pharmaceuticals," she says.

There are still plenty of unknowns when it comes to CBD.

The FDA hasapprovedthe use of the drugEpidiolex, which contains CBD, forspecific cases of seizures and epilepsy. The FDA-approved drugwasplaced in the "least restrictive" category of controlled substancesby the Drug Enforcement Agency, meaning it's in the same category as cough medicineRobitussin AC.

But overall, its a lot safer than anything else youd be using if youre using it instead of opioids for pain or Ambien to help you sleep or instead of benzodiazepine for anxiety," saidDr. Peter Grinspoon, a Harvard Medical School professor and a primary care doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Leeta Jussila, a practitioner who specializes in cannabis, says that everyone's system is different, so the way people absorb CBD differs. She recommends new users consult with health care providers and closely track how small doses of the chemical effect them.

"They could get a headache. Sometimes people say, 'I feel funny,' but youll never overdose on cannabis. You'll just start to detox," she said. "CBD is an oil, fat, lipid. Some people might get diarrhea. Ive had one person get nausea, dry mouth or dizziness. But it depends on the quality of the product."

Frye and Grinspoon both cautionthose looking to try CBD to do their research about the products they are purchasing.

"You have to be careful with purchasing CBDbecause like the nutritional supplement industry, it's not well regulated,"Frye says."There are some very fine products out there and then there's a lot of junk out there. So people have to be careful."

Ive had patients have what seems like a pretty dramatic effect beneficially, and Ive had other people say, Why did I just waste $60 on this? It didnt do anything, Grinspoon said.Its very variable. Its complicated by the fact that its not that regulated, so you have to be a savvy shopper to even be sure that you get the right amount of CBD that youre ordering.

Grinspoon said it is important to look for a certificate of assurance when shopping for products.

Dont just take their word for it. You know, if you go into a gas station, youre not necessarily going to get good CBD," he said.

More: Why is CBDon the rise for wellness products?

More: What is CBD oil? Separate facts from fiction to learn the truth about CBD

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