Woman on beach taking full spectrum cbd with thcFull spectrum CBD is all the rage right now. But is it the best choice for you?

The answer depends, in large part, on your stance on THC.

At this point, most people have heard of CBD. The substance is still relatively new to the legal market, having only been formally legalized in the United States at the end of 2018. Due to it's long list of health benefits, CBD sales have exploded across the country.

With CBD’s growing popularity, you might be wondering, what type of CBD is right for you?

That’s the question we’re going to help you answer. Is CBD better with or without THC? 

What is THC, and why do some say it's important to CBD?

While you may not be familiar with its impact on CBD, you have likely heard of THC. It is short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, and like CBD, it is a cannabinoid. However, these two cannabis derived compounds have differing effects on the body, and THC is the cannabinoid in marijuana responsible for making the user feel high.

Because of its potentially intoxicating effects of THC, the amount in CBD products is legally limited. To be sold within the United States - as well as many other places around the world - CBD must contain no more than 0.3% THC.

Woman measuring dose of full spectrum CBD oilStates are able to lower that limit if they choose, but they cannot raise it. As such, the amount of THC in CBD is very low, and far too low to result in any sort of intoxication for users.

THC is believed to enhance CBD through the so-called “entourage effect”. The entourage effect holds that CBD works best when all of the plants naturally occurring components are included - including THC. 

The two most well-known types of CBD are full spectrum and broad spectrum. Both are identical, save for one critical difference: full spectrum CBD contains THC, while broad spectrum does not. 

Pros of THC in CBD

There is a legitimate debate about the value of THC in CBD, and there is evidence to support each argument. On one hand, adherents of the entourage effect believe that THC with CBD provides a better experience, and countless anecdotal reports confirm this idea. There is also ample scientific evidence to support this idea:

A 2011 study found that THC in CBD may reduce negative side effects, including hunger and anxiety.

A 2019 analysis reviewed the evidence and found that there is strong theoretical support for the idea that CBD is more effective when it includes cannabis. This analysis found that "cannabis synergy" exists when the CBD is present, and is much greater than without it, because of the impact that THC can have on all other functions of the CBD.

Another study, this one from 2020, found that CBD which contains THC may be more effective in battling against the negative effects of mood disorders. This study found that THC, in small levels and when interacting with the various other components of cannabinoid oil, could have a unique impact on cells and other aspects of CBD that enhanced its ability to fight mood changes. Specifically, this addressed the impact of CBD on anxiety disorders, bipolar, and depression. 

Woman with THC-free cbd oilCons of THC in CBD 

THC sounds like a no-brainer right? Not so fast.

While the "pro" side is backed by ample evidence, some research implies that the entourage effect does not, in fact, exist.

A 2020 study examined the actual impact that CBD had on cells with or without THC, and the study found little to no difference in terms of the reactions of the cells.

This would imply that the entourage effect does not really exist and that CBD can have the same impact regardless of whether or not it contains THC. 

Of course, this is just one study, and "truth" depends on perspective. Furthermore, this study didn't track individual responses, something that is necessary for a more decisive conclusion to be reached in this debate.

There is also one more drawback of THC in your CBD products: a possible positive drug test.

Legally purchased CBD should contain trace amounts of THC, too low to trigger most drug tests. However, some studies have found that it is possible to test positive for THC if you only use CBD.

This could lead to a failed drug test, and this is something that can have massive ramifications on a person's career - or even their freedom. As such, individuals who are drug tested or may be drug tested should use extreme caution when purchasing CBD.

There have been many instances of people losing their jobs over a failed drug test and claiming that this was due to CBD use.

Again, this is not a common outcome, but it does happen. Your likelihood of failing a drug test after using CBD with THC depends on a variety of factors, including the amount of CBD consumed, sensitivity of the drug test, method of the drug test, individual metabolism, and personal history of cannabis use. 

Man holding up THC-free and full spectrum tinctures of CBD oilSo...what's the verdict? CBD oil with THC or without?

There is none. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true.

THC is right for some people, and not for others.

There has yet to be a double-blind, placebo study that determines if people receive more of a benefit as a result of using THC or THC-free CBD. It’s also possible that the effect varies from individual to individual. On top of this, you may want to avoid THC for fear of passing a drug test. There are many reasons to choose either full spectrum or THC-free CBD.

So, what does that mean for you? Well, your best bet may be to try both. Purchase small amounts of high quality full spectrum and THC-free CBD, try them both, and see what impact it has. This will give you a better idea of what type of CBD works for you.