5 Differences Between CBD and THC

5 Differences Between CBD and THC

Cannabis is a well-known plant that can either be a sight for sore eyes or may even leave a bad taste in your mouth. Whatever the cause it may have, Cannabis is steadily growing in popularity.

Although, many people may perceive Cannabis as the hallucinogenic drug that it has been known before. However, a lot of scientific breakthroughs have changed the line of marijuana in the industry.

The continuous research that this plant undergoes is insurmountable in terms of its benefits. Medical marijuana is providing relief to different illnesses and even a provoking solution for brain altering symptoms.

So how did Cannabis come forth as becoming one of the most sought after drugs in today’s modern era? 

What is CBD?

Before knowing the reason on how Cannabis become a medicinal breakthrough, let’s first take a look at the compounds in Cannabis.

Marijuana, Hemp, or Cannabis, this plant contains certain compounds that are beneficial to your body. One of which is CBD or cannabidiol, which can be termed to be the leading player in medical marijuana.

This compound is the constituent that makes Cannabis well-known in the medical field — providing brain-stimulating effects that induce rest and recovery.

However, not all Cannabis plants inhibit CBD; others can cause hallucinogenic effects in the brain and can cause more harm than good in the user.

What is THC?

difference between cbd and thc
THC Formula

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound responsible for making the user experience the “high.” Also, THC rich cannabis is mostly used as a recreational drug rather than for medication.

Although having the same benefits of anti-inflammatory properties and pain-relieving effects, THC is more volatile and may cause the user to undergo severe conditions if taken without supervision. 

Difference Between THC and CBD

If you are to compare CBD and THC, then the similarities that you’ll get are the pain negating effects and the compounds that aid in reducing inflammation in the muscles.

However, the difference between these two compounds is seen abruptly from the start. Cannabis plants are divided into two strains – Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica.

CBD rich cannabis is harvested from the Cannabis Sativa Strain. This strain is mostly used for its medicinal purposes. Also, the Sativa strains contain a high concentration of CBD.

On the other hand, the Indica strain has a higher concentration of THC or psychoactive ingredient found in Cannabis. For this reason, Cannabis Indica strains are more seen as a recreational drug.

Chemical structure

Due to the similar origin of plant species, both CBD and THC have little to no difference at all in their chemical structure.

Both strains inhibit the same compounds, which are composed of 2 oxygen atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 21 carbon atoms. The sole difference is the composition or the layout of how these atoms are arranged. This distinction in the chemical formula makes CBD and THC have different effects on the body.

Although both compounds target the neurological part of the brain, they help in coping with sleep, rest, and mood.

Psychoactive Components

difference between cbd and thc

The psychoactive component of marijuana is well-versed throughout the planet. Hallucinations and even attaining the so-called “high” factor always stick with marijuana.

The only difference is the compound that emits it. THC is the prominent compound that induces the psychoactive effect on the brain.

A CBD vs. THC product comparison shows that CBD has minuscule to no sign of psychoactive components in the formulation.

The reason why THC has mind-altering effects while CBD doesn’t is because they connect with different cannabinoid receptors. There are two different types of cannabinoid receptors; CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors are found in the Central Nervous System, while the CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system.

Because CB1 receptors are found in the Central Nervous System, including the brain and anything that affects them also affects the brain. It is because of binding with them that THC causes psychoactivity. The endocannabinoid system comprises of enzymes whose primary responsibility is to break down cannabinoids after they have achieved their purpose in the body. These enzymes work much less efficiently on THC than they do on CBD and endocannabinoids. This means that THC remains connected to the ECS for much longer than other cannabinoids, and this contributes to prolonged periods of psychoactivity.

Legality of Cannabis​

The legalization of medical marijuana has opened new doors of opportunity for patients or even regular people to get the health benefits of CBD. Although several laws and regulations are encompassing the legality of marijuana. However, due to its legalization on 50 states in the United States, CBD and THC are now creating new jobs. Plus, the laws under the legality provide users a better understanding of how to use and when to use marijuana. Although most states have legalized medical marijuana, the majority of them have legalized CBD for both therapeutic and recreational use. Some have legalized both CBD and THC for medical use, whereby the user must have a medical marijuana card to purchase.  There are eleven states and jurisdictions in the US that have legalized THC dominant marijuana for recreational use. These include:
  • Alaska 
  • California 
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia 
  • Illinois 
  • Maine 
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada 
  • Oregon 
  • Vermont and 
  • Washington 
In all these states, a person has to be at least 21 years of age to be able to buy and use marijuana. The trend where governments are reluctant to legalize THC is replicated in many other jurisdictions in the world. CBD is more readily accepted by governments that THC.

Medical Benefits of Cannabinoids

difference between cbd and thc

There are several benefits that you can get from CBD and THC products. Although the strain that is more well-known with the most medicinal benefits is Sativa containing CBD. One advantage of high-quality CBD is the anti-inflammatory properties of both strains.

This all-natural anti-inflammatory compound can help you in reducing muscle soreness and even lifting the inflamed areas of the skin.

With that said, you can also find CBD products in the market that focuses on beautification. Due to the uplifting effects of CBD and THC, several companies have formulated products that have essential oils and creams. 

Furthermore, you can also find high-quality CBD products on the market that are used in sports. Topical creams and oils that are manufactured with CBD provide pain relief for people suffering from acute muscular pain and even aching joints. 

Moreover, you’ll also find THC derived products in the market with high potency levels. This type of cannabis product is used for severe cases like solutions for anxiety, glaucoma, insomnia, and nausea.

Severely ill patients that are diagnosed with these types of symptoms can suffer conditions like uncontrolled seizures, loss of appetite, schizophrenia, or worse suicide. However, THC products are known for stimulating the brain, which can prevent seizures. 

Also, the ways on how you ingest this marijuana and hemp-derived products can vary. Edibles are made for easy consumption like honey sticks, gummies, brownies, and even juices and shakes.

What’s more, you can find topical creams, tinctures, and oils that have CBD and THC compounds in them. Also, several companies have made disposable CBD pens and vape juice for vaping.

Side Effects of Cannabis

Although both compounds have health benefits that cannot be found in conventional medicine, they still carry some side effects.

CBD products can be tolerable even in high dosages, but THC may carry a more substantial side effect. However, these side effects do not carry fatal conditions that can harm the patient or user.

Such side effects are drying of the mouth, increased heart rate, slower sensory-motor skills, lower perception, and even memory loss. In general, a copious amount of THC product can lead the user to severe psychiatric stress and may develop disorders such as schizophrenia. THC may also cause the user to have bloodshot eyes and an increased heart rate. High THC quantities when used for a long time, may cause the user to experience severe bouts of nausea and, in some cases, vomiting. This side effect is interesting because THC is an antiemetic for people who don’t use it regularly.

The side effects of THC on adults are usually reversible when the user stops using it. It is, however, a different case with teenagers. When teenagers take THC, it may have adverse effects on the development of their brains. These effects include reduced IQ, schizophrenia, and psychosis. It is, therefore, highly recommended that teenagers be discouraged from using THC unless otherwise advised by a doctor. 

One issue that could be a significant cause for concern is the interaction between cannabis and prescription drugs. Both THC and CBD are typically used as supplements by people with certain diseases. As a result, they are used alongside pharmaceutical drugs and how they interact, therefore determines whether there will be adverse side effects. It is noteworthy that CBD causes the liver to slow down in its synthesis of medicine. The slowed synthesis might make it necessary to adjust dosages or change medication in some instances. A doctor would be best placed to decide on the question of dosage.  

Drug Testing for Cannabinoids

difference between cbd and thc

Drug tests can be issued to know whether you are intoxicated with too much THC or CBD in your system. Although you may think that you are safe since your last CBD session was a week ago, you are wrong. Cannabinoids are stored in your body fats, which can show up in the tests even if several days have already passed. 

Although standard drug tests may not be able to detect CBD, some tests use CBD-sensitive procedures. However, most drug tests are more inclined to look for chemicals that are present in THC because it is the psychoactive compound between the two. If you are in a situation where a positive result for the THC drug test would be a problem, you also need to be careful with CBD. Legal full-spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC. If you take large quantities, in the region of 1500-2000mg per day, your drug test results might return a false positive. 

Why Do People Talk About THC Content in CBD Oil if THC and CBD are two different compounds?

Cannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant are separated into two popular forms, THC and CBD. THC, the psychoactive component is derived from marijuana or Cannabis Indica strain.

Meanwhile, CBD is from the Cannabis Sativa strain or Hemp. In reality, both strains may sometimes contain both components. The only difference is concentration. High-quality CBD oils may hold minuscule amounts of THC since some Industrial hemp.

However, CBD oils are only permitted to contain no more than 0.3 percent of THC for it to be legal. 

How CBD and THC Work Together

After observing the effects of CBD and THC on the user, some researchers have gone ahead to blend the two cannabinoids in the same product, bridge the CBD, THC divide, and provide additional benefits to the user. Research shows that a combination of the two cannabinoids reduces the mind-altering abilities of THC. Thus when a person takes a dose of CBD before they take THC, they experience less cognitive impairment than if they had used THC alone.


CBD and THC are the two main cannabinoids in marijuana. Their chemical structures of the two compounds are very similar. They connect with the body in very similar ways but to very different effects. The psychoactive effects of marijuana make authorities in many jurisdictions cagey about legalizing it, and it, therefore, attracts many more controls than CBD. Marijuana breeding has progressed substantially so that it is now possible to grow a marijuana strain that is dominated by either THC or CBD. 

Besides being psychoactive, THC has other health benefits such as being a bronchodilator and, therefore, helpful for people with asthma. It is ideal for people who have lost their appetite. A good example of such people is cancer patients going through chemotherapy or people with AIDS. One of the main things THC is to keep teenagers and children from abusing it due to the adverse, irreversible effects it may have on them. 

Dwight K. Blake Written by: Dwight K. Blake

Dwight was a Mental Health counselor at Long Island Psychotherapy & Counseling in Westbury, New York for more than 15 years. He believes that CBD is the prime solution to this mental illness and more-- with proper research, medical acknowledgment, and application.
Through his work at AmericanMarijuana, together with the rest of the team, he wishes to provide everyone with genuine results and high-quality product reviews for everyone to enjoy for free.

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