What Are High CBD Weed Strains and Why Is Smoking Them So Different?

Can a chemical compound in marijuana eliminate epileptic seizures or, at least, calm down this anxious author?

When I reached out to Jake Browne, staffer and pot critic at The Cannabist, I had one question for him: What is the most innovative pot strain on the market today? “Arguably, it’s Charlotte’s Web,” Browne tells me. “Low THC, high CBD is pretty innovative, at least considering the goals of the industry for so long.” Those goals include proving marijuana’s ability to counteract a slew of health issues and, boy, are high CBD strains accomplishing that.

Let’s take a step back: CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, one of the active cannabinoids in cannabis. (The one you’re most familiar with, probably, is THC — tetrahydrocannabinol — because that’s the psychoactive compound that gets you high AF.) But, while THC has been shown to help with some ailments, CBD is straight up off-the-charts with benefits. From the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology:

CBD acts in some experimental models as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-oxidant, anti-emetic, anxiolytic and antipsychotic agent, and is therefore a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and schizophrenia, respectively.

In Colorado, Charlotte’s Web was developed by the Stanley brothers (Joel, Jesse, Jon, Jordan, Jared, and Josh…and you wonder why we spark a J). Their company, Realm of Caring, named the strain after Charlotte Figi. Charlotte, who suffered from 300 epileptic seizures a week, started taking CBD-enhanced extract when she was five and went down to one seizure a week.

Charlotte’s Web is the standard-bearer in the industry, with hundreds of Colorado children using the product — with thousands more on a waiting list. Other states besides Colorado have allowed access to it, but a federal bill for nationwide medical legalization died in committee. It’s now on sale in the UK.

The Web clocks in with between 17 percent to 20 percent CBD and an ultra-low 0.3 percent THC. By comparison, your average strain has less than 4 percent CBD and 19 to 30 percent THC. Curious about the effects a high CBD strain might have, I went in search of one.

Because I’m not a thorough dick trying to take medicine away from epileptic children, Charlotte’s Web was out of the question. (Oh, and also the fact that they’re focusing on kids with serious issues and not 32-year-olds who sometimes get bummed out about having to wake up early.) But, at stellar Denver shop Good Chemistry, I found a strain they market as high CBD, name of H2. H2, a sativa species, has 6.05 percent THC and 12.06 percent CBD. That’s a pretty healthy amount of CBD with a bit more THC than seriously sick patients, especially children, might need.

I’m an anxious fellow: I see a therapist regularly and am on two medications to curb my Irish-Catholic stress. So, that being a symptom that CBD is supposed to help curb, I figured I could attempt to discern some benefits. I turned on Lawrence of Arabia on Netflix and sparked up.

H2 has a sharp, piney smell but, once lit, isn’t very aromatic. I took a hit and not much happened, so I took three more. Now, I want to make it clear that I wasn’t doing some important scientific research, just anecdotally reporting on how it affects someone like me. The kids who are able to live their lives more fully because of CDB are what really matter, not some dude taking in Freddie Young’s Super Panavision 70 shots of the desert while prematurely breaking into Halloween candy packages.

About that: There weren’t any munchies. There really wasn’t, well, much. I started to get a minor buzz, which mostly was felt in the way my eyes were behaving. They got pretty dried out, too. I had no discernible anxiety or paranoia, although I wasn’t really on edge before my little experiment. I’d imagine, for us anxious types, you might need to use it often to see it improve your Larry David-ness. In fact, the buzz was chill enough that I’d imagine you could light up and actually get some things done during the day.

I also found that H2, in particular, could be a good option for people who don’t like to get too high. Your mom and dad were smoking dope with THC quantities in this range, so they could feasibly have a few puffs and not — as might be the case with some of modern-day heavy hitters — instantly think they were on Willy Wonka’s boat cruise. Plus, you might as well be smoking something that has a myriad of health benefits associated with it.

One additional note: I slept like shit last night. I couldn’t fall asleep, was experiencing hypnic jerks and — when I finally benzoed myself to unconsciousness — had some pretty whack dreams. Now, I’m not saying it’s the work of the CBD: I don’t sleep all that great often enough. But, I’m also not not saying it was. But, it’s cool. One sleepless night for me is nothing compared with the kind of life-changing benefits that others could experience in a society with accessible high CBD treatments. I’ll probably just give my old pal, THC, a call.

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