Sure, there are more questions than definite answers about CBD. But the chilled out, short answer to everybody’s most burning question is: Yes.
Yes, you can smoke CBD flower. To the extent that any smoking is fine, smoking hemp flower is all good. To your second question: For sure. You can use this guide to quickly understand what CBD is, how and why it’s beneficial and how you might want to be imbibing it in our CBD flower, be it out of the tin or in our pre-rolled joints. Hell, maybe you already are. You could just be calling it something else.
So first up, let’s talk lingo.
In the Weeds: CBD, THC, and Several Other Acronyms
We all know hemp and marijuana are plants. What kind of plants? Cannabis sativa. Of the 500 or so different kinds of molecules in the plants, around 140 are chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Say it with us: “Cah-nab-i-noids.” Turns out, there are more than 110 of ’em. (Here's our deep dive into cannabinoids.)
CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, another five-syllable SAT word pronounced “can-ab-eh-dye-ol.” It’s one of the 100+ cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, the second most prevalent of all cannabinoids.
Ya still with us?
One of the most important things to know about CBD is that it isn’t THC, the truly intoxicating, mind-altering component derived from cannabis plants that makes smokers feel high. THC is the most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis sativa plants. And by the way, THC, for those looking for a real tongue twister here, is short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
Both marijuana and hemp plants are members of the cannabis sativa species of leafy, willowy shrubs. Generally, THC is associated with and derived from marijuana plants. Any cannabis sativa plant with more than .3% THC, is, at the moment, by the federal government considered a marijuana plant.
CBD is meanwhile associated with flowering hemp plants, or cannabis sativa plants that have less than .3% THC. If you want to go super biology geek on this, you can learn about how pollination and other factors can turn hemp plants into marijuana plants - or consider that marijuana plants also contain CBD - but let’s not digress.
To keep things simple, think of all things CBD and the flowering hemp plants from which it can be derived as more law-abiding little brothers of cannabis sativa. Because it is wild-child THC, harvested from marijuana plants, which is illegal in the eyes of the federal government.
Hemp and CBD are in today’s marketplace fairly synonymous; you’ll see terms like hemp, hemp flower, and CBD flower used interchangeably. Joints made from hemp contain CBD. Federal law prohibits them from containing more than .3% THC. Smoking CBD tends to prompt a relaxing - possibly therapeutic - buzz without a high. Think of it as a glass of wine, rather than a bottle. Cuz we’re grownups.
Breathing Easy: Smoking CBD is Low Risk
So besides the occasionally ceremonial and sometimes rebellious act of smoking grass…Why smoke CBD?
First, it is necessary to say that smoking any substance comes with a risk,said Clifton S. Otto, MD, a veteran opthamologist and cannabinoid medical specialist based in Hawaii and certified by the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine.
Smoking is not medically recommended because inhaling any burned plant material that can contain carcinogens and tars is harmful to the throat and lungs, he was careful to point out.
That said, Dr. Otto added,a 2006 UCLA study funded by the National Institute of Health comparing the cancer risk of smoking tobacco as opposed to cannabis showed that people who smoke cannabis have less of a cancer risk than those who smoke tobacco. A larger 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association further demonstrated that occasional smokers of cannabis do not develop cancer at the same rate as daily tobacco smokers.
“It’s possible that’s due to the anticancer properties of cannabinoids - and we know that THC and CBD and CBG may have some anti-cancer properties - and perhaps that’s what’s lowering their cancer risk,” said Dr. Otto, a medical doctor who is not financially affiliated with Dad Grass.
Of course, there are many ways to ingest CBD; it has been added to lotions and served in elixirs. Different means of ingesting CBD create different levels of bioavailability, a nifty term to convey the speed and extent to which any substance reaches the site of action within the body.
Know that introducing CBD into the body via inhalation, though, will lead to its benefits being felt more quickly as compared to CBD oils or even gummies. Inhaling cannabinoids creates faster bioavailability because the cannabinoids - CBD for example - are absorbed initially by the lungs, go into the blood and then directly to the brain rather than being absorbed by the intestines and metabolized in the liver before entering the blood in the case of ingested CBD.
What are proven benefits of Smoking CBD?
When Uncle Sam declared war on drugs in the early 1970s with the creation of the Controlled Substances Act, it became impossibly difficult for researchers to study the effects of CBD. So it’s hard to be damn sure about all this. Generally, CBD is considered to have anti-inflammatory effects. Studies in the U.S. and Europe have shown CBD to be useful for reducing arthritis or nerve pain. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety and insomnia, certainly no benefit to sleep on after a stressful day.
A bit of good news: the World Health Organization says CBD isn’t addictive and does not need to be considered a public health risk. With that in mind, CBD joints can be thought of as a bridge to kicking an addictive nicotine cigarette habit, a way to enjoy the ritualistic aspects of smoking sans nicotine.
“There’s a lot of people out there who are smoking tobacco to relieve anxiety,” Dr. Otto said. “It forces you to breathe more deeply. There are some relaxing effects from nicotine. I think a smokable form of CBD could be helpful for getting people to switch from tobacco to hemp with the next step to look at vaporization.”
Dr. Otto said he discusses with patients interested in inhaling cannabis material the use of a vaporizer that heats the organic material to around 400 degrees, at which point it releases a vapor as opposed to a smoke.
“There are none of the carcinogens and it’s much easier on the throat and lungs,” Dr. Otto said. “Inhalation is a very effective method and the onset of relief is very fast and it’s very easy to control because you can regulate how many puffs you take and how deep those puffs are.”
Our Dad Grass Flower, which is dried Smokable hemp flower, can be vaporized in this manner, although most of us roll it into joints or breathe it in from pipes. But it’s up to you; that’s the beauty of this small batch, carefully curated goodness.
Medically, the only FDA-approved CBD product is a medicine called Epidiolex, which is prescribed to patients suffering particularly awful forms of epilepsy. All the rest of it? Unregulated - although smokable hemp brands that have your back, like Dad Grass, are tested by third-party labs with the testing results shared publicly (Just scan that QR code on the packaging!). These testing results shed light on all the organic components of Dad Grass, including its terpenes.
Aroma: The Terpene Fingerprint
That’s right, there’s still a bit more vocabulary to learn here. Terpenes are the components in the essential oils of all plants that produce their scent. Lemons have that fresh citrus scent that brightens your day; the terpenes of lavender plants waft a calming, floral smell.
The terpenes of cannabis plants produce a characteristic scent too - as any teenager smoking pot with her bedroom window open well knows. Beyond scent, though, terpenes can also produce effects like drowsiness or stimulation. Increasingly, scientists are exploring the way terpenes interact with the many trace cannabinoids of the cannabis plant to help produce its overall effect on the body, what Dr. Otto called synergistic effect and some call the entourage effect.
“Each variety of cannabis plant seems to have its own unique terpene fingerprint,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to take much, of these maybe half percent or 1 percent in cannabis material to have an effect. So there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done in this area.”
While additional studies are needed to better understand the way organic versus synthetic cannabinoids interact with the human body, in particular the nervous system, it seems evident that organic material harvested from the whole plant would have the most complete synergistic effect.