Cannabis, a genus of flowering plants, can be both hemp and marijuana. The No. 1 difference between a marijuana plant and a hemp plant is 0.3% of THC.

CBD, or cannabidiol, can come from both plants. A hemp plant will have much higher concentration of CBD, while the marijuana plant will have a higher concentration of THC.

In South Carolina, we have hemp pilot programs, which means each farmer awarded a license to grow hemp must partner with a research group such as Clemson University or the Medical University of South Carolina. This is to ensure the hemp grown here falls within the guidelines of 0.3% or less of THC and is available for various testing and studies.

With testing of any cannabis or CBD product there should be a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This test will confirm the cannabinoid profile for the batch tested.

With the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill in December, there has come a lot more attention to cannabis and the health benefits of CBD. Nowadays it seems everyone is jumping into the green space, and CBD products are popping up everywhere.

There are several things people should know before purchasing these products. The first is that, yes, you can have side effects, and yes, you can have drug-to-drug interactions.

Think of it as taking a statin and eating grapefruit every day – a fruit that interacts with medication.

Why would we be fooled into thinking CBD wouldn’t have some interactions? It’s important to know what these interactions are. However, the chances of a store clerk knowing the answer is unlikely.

And, buying CBD blindly over the internet can also lead to purchasing a product that could cost you your job with trace amount of THC. Any full spectrum CBD product will have some THC in it, which can lead to a positive drug test.

CBD is not a “one-size-fits-all” product. It is best advised to take CBD with the mindset of “Start low, go slow.” Bigger is not always better.

CBD is not a pharmaceutical and should not be thought of in the same manner. Although there are people who have gotten relief in just a couple of doses or applications, most people need to take CBD for three to four weeks to see benefits.

It’s important to understand that each one of us has our own endocannabinoid system that we are trying to bring into balance. Do your research and understand CBD before starting any kind of the product.

Cynthia Groff, CCMA is the owner of Sativa Health Products on Hilton Head Island.