The Difference Between THC And CBD

As the legal use of marijuana and other cannabis products grows, consumers are increasingly becoming aware of their options. This includes THC and CBD the two natural compounds found in plants of the Cannabis species.

CBD can be extracted from the hemp or from marijuana. Hemp plants are cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana plants are cannabis plants that contain higher concentrations of THC. Since the Farm Bill was passed, CBD has been selling in the forms of gels, gummies, oils, supplements, extracts, and more.

The main psychoactive compound present in marijuana is THC, which gives the user a ‘high’. This can be achieved through smoking marijuana or ingesting/applying oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and so on. The consumption of CBD does not give you these effects. Both compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but they have very different effects.

We’ve discussed some more details about both these compounds, as well as their differences below.

What’s the difference between THC and CBD?

Chemical Structure

Both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. A slight difference in how the atoms are arranged accounts for the differing effects on all our bodies. Both of these compounds are chemically similar to your body’s own endocannabinoids which allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors.

The interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals responsible for relaying messages between cells and have roles in pain, immune function, stress and sleep, to name a few.

Chemical Structure

Psychoactive components

When it comes to THC and CBD, even though they share a similar chemical structure, they don’t have the same psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound which means it doesn’t produce the ‘high’ typically associated with THC.

THC binds with the cannabinoid 1(CB1) receptors in the brain, which produces a high or sense of euphoria.  On the other hand, CBD binds very weakly, if at all, to CB1 receptors and can interfere with the binding of THC thereby dampening its psychoactive effects as well.


In the U.S., cannabis-related laws are constantly evolving. Marijuana and THC are on the list of controlled substances, so they’re prohibited under federal law. However, multiple states including Washington D.C. have passed cannabis related laws, making medical marijuana with higher levels of THC legal. But you may need a prescription for it by a licensed physician.

Additionally, many states have made recreational use of marijuana and THC legal. In states where marijuana is legal for recreational or medical purposes, you should be able to buy CBD. But before you try to buy products with CBD or THC, make sure you get all your information about your state’s laws. If you possess cannabis-related products in a state where they’re illegal, or you don’t have a medical prescription in states where the products are legal for medical treatment, you could face legal penalties.

Medical benefits

CBD and THC have many of the same medical benefits. They can provide you relief from several of the same conditions. However, CBD doesn’t cause the euphoric effects that occur with THC. Some people may prefer to use CBD because of the lack of this side effect.

In June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, which is the first prescription medication to contain CBD. The drug is used to treat rare, difficult-to-control forms of epilepsy in children.

CBD is used to help with various conditions, such as:

While THC is used to help with conditions like:

  • low appetite
  • nausea
  • muscle spasticity
  • glaucoma
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • pain

Side effects

CBD is well-tolerated, even in large doses. Research even suggests any side-effects that occur with CBD use are likely the result of drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and other medications you may be taking.

THC causes temporary side effects like increased heart rate, dry mouth, slower reaction times, red eyes, coordination issues and memory loss. These side effects are part of the compound’s psychoactive properties. But neither THC nor CBD is fatal and there have been no reports of overdose.

However, high THC use may be connected to long-term negative psychiatric effects. This is especially true for adolescents who consume large amounts of THC. The effect on the brain is more profound for teens as using the compound increases the risk for some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Drug testing

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are stored in the body’s fat. They can show up on drug tests for several days or weeks after you’ve used them. Not every drug test will be able to detect CBD, but CBD-sensitive tests are available. Most standard drug tests will look for chemicals related to THC, so THC or marijuana use might show up on a screening. Likewise, hemp can produce some THC, in addition to CBD, so a test could be positive for THC even if you haven’t used it.

THC and CBD are two of the most prominent cannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant. The average marijuana strain today contains about 12% THC. CBD oil may contain small amounts of THC too, because it is present in the hemp plant. CBD can have no more than 0.3% THC to be legal at the federal level.

If you’re looking for high-quality CBD, you must browse through our range of Hemp Extract Lotion at Nass Valley Gardens. All our formulas not only have CBD infused in them, they’re fortified with proven ingredients to attack problems associated with sleeplessness, aching muscles and much more.

Both CBD and THC have medical benefits. They’re also both considered safe, but you must have a chat about its use and dosage with your local health practitioner first.

Want to learn more about CBD? Click here for our detailed resources.

Recommended Read: CBD Extraction Methods: How Is CBD Oil Made?

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