CBD vs THC – Important Things You Need to Know

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Cannabis has more than 113 different chemical compounds that are referred to as cannabinoids. CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are just some of the cannabinoids from cannabis. In the past few years, there has been too much interest regarding the potential health benefits and effects of cannabis. Much interest has been directed on these 2 cannabinoids. This interest is believed to grow more as marijuana and cannabis products continue being legalized in more states. There are so many products currently that have been produced from THC and CBD believed to alleviate insomnia, anxiety, and stress. To properly comprehend the products’ potential benefits and side effects, it is good to understand the differences between CBD vs THC. For this and much more, proceed with the post below!

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is the second in terms of the prevalence of the chemical compounds found in cannabis. This compound was first discovered in the 1940s and has become popular recently as an all-natural treatment for varying conditions. The compound can be extracted from hemp or marijuana. CBD derived from hemp will only have traces of THC, while that extracted from marijuana will have more THC.

What is THC?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is famously known as THC, is another chemical compound in cannabis that causes psychoactive feelings. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that THC effects result from the brain’s reward system signaling the release of dopamine (a brain chemical). This is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for mood and pleasure feelings in an individual. When the brain is triggered to produce more than the average amount of dopamine, THC causes euphoria feelings. Smoking marijuana is the standard method of administering THC, even though THC can be found in oils, edibles, and capsules.


Both THC and CBD are cannabinoids that are extracted from the cannabis plant. All the same, they have many differences that might influence your next purchase. A simple way of thinking about THC can be defined by what cannabis will make you feel. On the other hand, CBD effects can hardly be felt. The crucial distinction is that CBD, unlike THC, will never intoxicate you. This addresses the reason why people prefer CBD for pain management.

CBD also can block THC’s intoxicating effects. After they have bound to the cannabinoid receptors, it will block THC from activating these receptors. This will therefore translate to less intense psychoactive effects. In this regard, products with a mix of THC and CBD will be suitable for first-time users. This does not, however, mean that CBD alone will never lead to any effect. To be precise, high CBD doses have always been associated with some profoundly relaxing experiences for the user. In the CBD vs THC chart below, we have a deeper look into the key differences between CBD and THC.

Chemical Structure

Both THC and CBD have a similar chemical structure to the natural endocannabinoids in the body. The Endocannabinoids system is simply neurotransmitters that act in an individual’s brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that are responsible for relaying signals between the nerve cells in your body. These play a vital role in a wide range of bodily functions such as pain, sleep, appetite, mood, and the immune system.

You need to note that both THC and CBD have a similar molecular structure. They have carbon atoms (21), hydrogen atoms (30), and oxygen atoms (2). The only slight difference between these two cannabinoids is how the atoms have been arranged. This is what accounts for the differing effects that these two cannabinoids have on the body. By simply mimicking the body’s endocannabinoids, these two cannabinoids will bind with the receptors and later cause varying effects in your body.


The other difference between CBD and THC lies in the source from which each of them is produced. As we have previously mentioned, CBD can come from both marijuana and hemp plants. All the same, the best source for CBD is hemp. Marijuana has more THC than CBD, while hemp has more CBD than THC. To avoid the addition of large amounts of THC, CBD is sourced from hemp, while THC is derived from marijuana. Getting CBD from marijuana is likely to have CBD with more THC, which might not suit users trying to avoid THC. In this regard, some CBD products sourced from cannabis, for instance, can have more THC than what is indicated on the label.

Psychoactive Component

Despite having the same chemical structure, CBD and THC have different effects on the body, as observed earlier. THC is responsible for the mind-altering effects on the user. On the other hand, CBD effects are very different; CBD doesn’t get you high. It will never cause euphoria, but it is believed to help the body to relax. Some people always refer to this relaxation that CBD causes as a ‘body high’ in contrast with the ‘mind high’ that THC causes. Owing to its relaxation effect, CBD is seen to help with anxiety, seizures, and depression.

THC will bind with the cannabinoid 1, commonly known as CB1, receptors found on the brain. This is what triggers the high or the sense of euphoria. On the other hand, CBD will bind very weakly, if this happens, to the CB1 receptors. It is, however, worth noting that CBD will need THC for it to bind with CB1 receptors. CBD could help reduce some of the unwanted THC’s psychoactive effects like sedation and euphoria.


Medical Benefits

Both THC and CBD have many and similar medical benefits. They claim to offer relief from so many and related conditions. All the same, CBD will not cause euphoric effects that happen with THC. Some people will therefore prefer using CBD owing to its less severe side effects. Back in June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first prescription drug containing CBD. It is used for treating a sporadic and hard-to-control epilepsy form. Other conditions that CBD is believed to help with include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Mental disorders
  • Migraine
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Nausea

THC, on the other hand, is believed to help with:

  • Glaucoma
  • Pain
  • Low appetite
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea

We must, however, state that research on these two cannabinoids is still in the early stages. More research will be required to back the benefits claimed to be brought by these cannabinoids.

Aroma and Appearance

Both marijuana and hemp have the same smells, and for the untrained eye, they look very similar. This will especially be true if you get a side-by-side comparison of the marijuana and hemp flower. Even though hemp and marijuana can look the same, there are some essential differences. For instance, hemp leaves look skinny, while marijuana leaves have a much broader appearance. In addition to that, marijuana plants appear like a short bush while hemp plants look skinny and tall, with most of their leaves growing at their top part. This does not, however, imply that marijuana plants will never get to all heights. It simply means that even the most giant marijuana plants will always have a bushy appearance.

Side Effects

Essentially CBD is well-tolerated even at large doses. Research suggests that any side effect that occurs is likely to be brought about by the drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and medications that you might be taking. THC causes the temporary side effects below:

  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Red eyes
  • Memory loss
  • Slow reaction times
  • Coordination issues

CBD, on the other hand, causes side effects like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

We have to note that neither of these compounds is fatal. High THC use can be associated with long-term psychiatric effects. This happens for adolescents who use high THC amounts. All the same there lacks conclusive evidence that cannabis use can lead to psychiatric effects such as schizophrenia.

Drug Testing

Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC are basically stored in the body fat. This, therefore, means that they can show up during drug tests for several weeks or days after you have used them. All the same, you should note that drug tests won’t be capable of detecting CBD. There are, however, CBD-sensitive tests that are available for the same. Most standard drug tests are constantly screening for THC and its related chemicals. The reason for that is because THC is the compound that leads to psychoactive effects. It, therefore, means that the use of THC and marijuana is likely to show up during a drug screening test.

It is also worth noting that hemp produces little THC in addition to CBD. This might therefore yield a positive test for THC even though you have never used THC. You also need to be aware of the claims that CBD products manufacturers make. They might claim that their products are THC-free which might not always be the case. The best thing to do is making sure that you source your CBD products from reputable brands.


In the U.S, laws related to cannabis are evolving very regularly. CBD is still considered a Schedule 1 drug from a technical approach according to federal law. On the other hand, hemp has been whitelisted from the controlled substances act. All the same, the FDA and the DEA still classify CBD to be a schedule 1 drug. 33 states, among them Washington, D.C., have laid out laws related to cannabis. They have made medical cannabis having high THC levels legal. You might need a prescription from a licensed physician for the same, however. Additionally, several states have made the recreational use of THC and marijuana legal. In a state where cannabis has been legalized for medical or recreational use, you should be in a position to buy CBD easily.

We learn here that both CBD and THC are legal in different places due to the varying jurisdictions with different laws. Everything held constant; since CBD is non-psychoactive, it is widely accepted in several jurisdictions compared to THC. Growing industrial hemp is legal at the federal level, provided that it does not exceed 0.3% THC. This, therefore, implies that even the products extracted from such hemp will be legal. Before you can buy or try products with THC or CBD, makes sure to research the state laws. Possessing cannabis-related products without medical prescriptions or in states where they are illegal could lead to legal penalties.

Why do People Talk about THC content in CBD Oil?

It is common to wonder why people talk about THC content in CBD oil while these are two different compounds. All the same, as we have already learned in this post, THC and CBD are the most prevalent cannabinoids that you will find in cannabis plants. It, therefore, becomes a bit hard to separate the two cannabinoids. Both marijuana and hemp can produce THC, as we have learned. However, marijuana has a higher concentration of THC as compared to CBD. On the other hand, hemp has a higher CBD concentration in comparison with marijuana.

Averagely, a marijuana strain has around 12p.c of THC. The reason why CBD oil can have trace amounts of THC is the fact that this cannabinoid is present in hemp plants at deficient levels. By now, you should have learned that the ideal plant for sourcing CBD is hemp. According to federal law, CBD should not have more than 0.3p.c of THC if it is to be regarded as legal. It is argued that this is a meager THC amount enough to get anyone’ high’.

The Bottom Line

With the debate of whether or not to legalize marijuana still raging on, the differences between CBD vs THC are becoming essential. Both have different effects ranging from recreational to medical uses. You might have heard about CBD oil, but when it comes to medical marijuana, it is always important to note the differences. Despite the varying opinions from the public concerning these 2 compounds (CBD vs THC), they have specific uses in the wellness world. Following the advocacy of CBD from medical experts, the compound has garnered support for further research and legalization too.

To sum up, both THC and CBD have health benefits for their users. All the same, these can only be used as supplements. In this regard, you must be very careful to know how the cannabinoid you are looking for will interact with any drug that you might be using. For this reason, you need to decide to use medical marijuana with the help of your healthcare provider. Your doctor will be in a position to monitor your progress and help you get a dosage that will work for you. Another point that is worth noting is that teenagers and children should refrain from THC use. The reason for that is that THC has permanent adverse effects on the growing brains.

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