Low THC Cannabis Is Popular In Europe As 'Cannabis Light' - RxLeaf
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Low THC Cannabis Is Popular In Europe As ‘Cannabis Light’

Philip Ghezelbash

Low THC cannabis has gone mainstream for many good reasons including sleep, mood, and relaxation.

With cannabis legalization becoming more common across the globe, cannabis products are naturally gaining recognition and popularity. One cannabis product in particular has created an uproar in Italy: cannabis light. In other words, low THC cannabis.

With fewer psychoactive side effects, low THC cannabis is transforming global perceptions. And with a strong push, cannabis light may encourage universal legalization.

Legal Change in Italy Led to a New Cannabis Consumer

Cannabis is only legal in Italy for medicinal and industrial purposes. Cannabis is technically just decriminalized, so possession results in fines. Furthermore, unlicensed cannabis cultivation is illegal.

In 2016, Italian legislatures, looking to make it easier for farmers to grow natural hemp variations, raised hemp’s legal THC concentration to 0.6 percent. THC is an active cannabinoid found in cannabis that interacts with cannabinoid receptors. Unlike its sister cannabinoid CBD, THC creates a psychoactive effect, which is why it’s so tightly regulated. 

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The parliament building in Rome, Italy.

So, 0.6 percent is technically over the Italian threshold and would re-qualify the hemp as cannabis. However, regulators assumed that the THC concentration was too low to produce a mind-altering effect. They believed consumers wouldn’t want it. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

It seems that the Italian regulators underestimated the interest in a low THC cannabis. Customers flocked to what they called “cannabis light.” Even though 0.6 percent THC is well below the standard 5-35 percent seen in legal weed elsewhere, customers still loved it. Within three years, cannabis light sales created about $170 million worth of annual revenues and 15,000 new jobs. 

But Why Would Anyone Want Cannabis Light?

Cannabis quality and potency is crucial to those involved in cannabis culture. So, the question arises: why is there such an uproar around cannabis light?

Italy’s strict cannabis regulation may cause consumers’ excitement about purchasing cannabis in a store, even if it does somewhat skirt the law. Cannabis light is technically a collector’s item. So, people wouldn’t technically consume it. This enables one to legally sell cannabis light as a cannabis cosmetic or product.  

Some cannabis light purchasers have also described it as creating mild relaxation. 

But, aside from the excitement over a new product, there are other reasons why you might buy cannabis light. While low in THC, cannabis light still contains CBD and other cannabinoids, which can have a range of therapeutic effects. 

Pain Relief

Research indicates that CBD may play a crucial role in managing pain by modulating specific receptor pathways. CBD may improve pain relief by activating the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, leading to a cellular cascade and inhibitory response resulting in reduced pain perception. 

One animal study also showed that CBD may significantly reduce chronic inflammation that causes pain by targeting glycine receptors. CBD increases the expression of 𝛂 GlyR, which “mediate glycinergic cannabinoid-induced suppression of chronic pain”.

Other cannabinoids that would be found in cannabis light may modulate pain through CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids other than THC and CBD activate CB2 receptors, where these then directly modulate dopamine neurons. This provides pain relief through dopamine release.

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Mood Modulation 

People often turn to cannabis for help with anxiety and mood. With CBD present in cannabis light, that may still be possible.  

CBD offers excellent potential to regulate mood. One study even found that CBD induced an antidepressant-like effect comparable to conventional antidepressants. CBD activates the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT1A) receptor, which initiates serotonin production. Serotonin may improve mood and treat depression. 

Sleep Aid

Cannabis light may also be able to provide improved sleep quality. Myrcene is a terpene in cannabis that shows great promise as a sleep aid. It has been found that most strains that are CBD-rich (and ‘cannabis light’) also have high concentrations of myrcene.

THC is typically connected to improved sleep quality, but CBD may induce sedative effects. Studies have shown that CBD shows promise in treating REM sleep behavior disorders as well as helping manage daytime fatigue. CBD’s potential to reduce pain and anxiety may also aid in improving sleep. One study showed that CBD has a calming effect on the central nervous system, decreasing anxiety in nearly 80 percent of patients and improving sleep scores in 66 percent. 

Who Should Take It?

Any patients who enjoy the act of smoking cannabis and are also looking for improvement in pain, sleep, and mood may find that cannabis light is a good fit. Cannabis newbies may also match well with cannabis light. They can take low-THC cannabis to start to build up to higher THC levels as their comfort grows. Cannabis light is also a fantastic option for those who are hypersensitive to the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

These benefits clearly outweigh any cons. Hopefully Italy will set a positive example for those legislators who are still hesitant to legalize (in America, perhaps…).

Philip Ghezelbash

Philip Ghezelbash is an ex-personal trainer with a science background who currently operates New Zealand's only health specialized writing studio. He is passionate about presenting complex science in an easy to digest manner and is a firm believer that cannabis has substantial potential to be used as a medicine for degenerative disease.

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