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  • by Nicola Boulton December 13, 2023 6 min read

    Difference between CBD and THC Edibles

    Although CBD and THC are obtained from the cannabis plant, many people presume they have similar effects. However, there is more than meets the eye concerning CBD and THC. Read on to learn more about the difference between CBD and THC edibles and how to purchase the right cannabis products.

    The legalization of hemp in 2018 seemed to be a hallmark decision. Many cannabis users are lining up in various retail stores across the country, seeking to buy Cannabidiol (CBD) products. Although THC is still considered a Schedule 1 Drug under federal law, some states have allowed a regulated sale of THC products, including edibles. CBD is more popular due to its non-psychoactive properties. Furthermore, it relieves anxiety, pain, and inflammation. CBD and THC interact with your body differently due to their different chemical structures. You must purchase a high-quality CBD or THC edible while ensuring that either chemical compound is legalized in your state’s jurisdiction.

    What is CBD?

    Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a natural chemical compound obtained from hemp, a plant strain of the cannabis plant. It does not cause any ‘high’ effects since it is non-psychoactive and interacts with the endocannabinoid system indirectly. Cannabidiol is among other chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, including CBG (cannabigerol), CBC (cannabichromene), and THC.

    What is THC?

    Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a psychoactive chemical compound derived from marijuana. It causes the ‘high’ effect experienced after consuming cannabis and is considered illegal in most states.

    What is the Difference between CBD and THC Edibles?

    Cannabis edibles are chewy substances infused with a precise amount of Cannabidiol or tetrahydrocannabinol. They include gummies and capsules, widely available in several online and local stores.

    Cannabis gummies are chewy, delicious substances infused with a precise amount of CBD or THC oil. They are popular because they are customizable and easy to prepare; their flavors disguise the earthy taste of cannabis oil.

    Cannabis capsules are pills infused with a precise amount of CBD or THC oil. They have a gelatin outer casing and do not have a specific taste. However, they disguise the earthy taste of CBD or THC oil, depending on the type of capsule you opt for. 

    CBD vs. THC edibles; Legality

    Congress passed the Farm Bill in 2018. The legislation birthed amendments to the Controlled Substances List, scrapping off hemp as a psychoactive compound. Therefore, hemp extracts such as CBD were considered legal under federal law, although most states have set regulations regarding the use of CBD products. 

    On the other hand, THC is widely considered a Schedule 1 drug under federal law. However, about 37 states have legalized the use of medical cannabis. Furthermore, 19 states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis, and this includes CBD and THC products. 

    Before purchasing CBD or THC edibles, ensure you confirm your state’s jurisdiction to avoid facing legal consequences.

    CBD Vs. THC Edibles: Chemical Structure & Psychoactive Properties

    THC and CBD have similar chemical structures; they both have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, their atoms are arranged differently, which might explain why CBD and THC have varying effects when consumed. For example, they interact with the endocannabinoid system and bind with receptors in varying ways.

    The endocannabinoid system is a complex system comprising enzymes, endocannabinoids, and receptors. It moderates various biological processes like breathing and digestion, ensuring they are in check. The receptors in the ECS include CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are abundant in the central and peripheral nervous systems, respectively.

    The CBD extract in cannabis-infused edibles binds with CB2 receptors indirectly, transmitting electric signals that alleviate muscle aches and inflammation. In addition, it enhances the activity of GABA (Gamma AminoButryic Acid) and 5-HTP (5hydrotrytoxaphin) receptors in the brain, which aid in improving sleep and reducing stress and anxiety.

    On the flip side, THC binds directly with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, causing euphoric effects. CBD is considered a CB1 antagonist since it blocks the activity of CB1 receptors, thus reducing the effects of THC when consumed.

    CBD vs. THC: Medical Benefits

    Jastrząb et al. (2021) stated that CBD edibles have anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate muscle aches and joint pains.

    Khalsa et al. (2019) observed that Cannabidiol in the edibles has anti-anxiety properties that relieve depression, stress, and anxiety.

    Taylor et al. (2018) noted that cannabis-infused edibles have anti-emetic properties that improve gastrointestinal health.

    Crippa et al. (2018) stated that CBD edibles have neuroprotective properties that alleviate symptoms of neurodegenerative ailments like Parkinson’s disease. 

    Van de Donk et al. (2019) stated that THC edibles might alleviate chronic pains due to their analgesic properties.

    Other scientists suggest that THC may alleviate muscle spasticity and reduced appetite, while CBD may relieve sleep disorders and seizures.

    Side Effects of CBD and THC Edibles

    Although CBD and THC edibles are well tolerated, they may cause a few side effects. For example, CBD edibles may result in migraines, dizziness, diarrhea, appetite, and weight changes. On the other hand, THC edibles may cause anxiety, fatigue, dry mouth, and reduced blood pressure in severe cases.

    CBD vs. THC Edibles: Drug Tests

    CBD and THC are fat-soluble compounds. Therefore, they are stored in the body’s fat tissue after absorption into the bloodstream. Drug tests are often conducted to determine the presence of THC in the bloodstream. Therefore, THC edibles would automatically test positive in a drug test. However, CBD edibles may or may not test positive in a drug test, depending on the spectrum of CBD in the edibles. Full-spectrum CBD edibles contain various cannabinoids and chemical compounds, including THC, CBD, CBG, terpenes, and flavonoids. However, THC levels below 0.3% are not significant enough to cause psychoactive effects. Broad-spectrum CBD edibles are similar to full-spectrum CBD edibles. However, they do not contain THC since it is removed during processing. CBD isolate edibles only contain CBD as the primary chemical compound since all other cannabinoids and chemical compounds are completely extracted from it.

     Full-spectrum CBD edibles may test positive in a drug test due to the presence of THC.

    What to Consider While Purchasing CBD and THC Edibles

    It is important to consider the product quality while purchasing CBD and THC edibles. Although they are available in various stores, not all brands sell genuine products. The following are guidelines you should consider while making your purchase:

    • Read the customer reviews to get more insight into the product quality.
    • Ensure the products have undergone intensive independent third-party lab tests. You can also access the Certificate of Analysis (CoA) on their website or request a physical copy. The COA indicates the product’s ingredients, purity, and potency levels.
    • Confirm the extraction method. CO2 extraction is highly preferred since it maintains its purity and potency.
    • Ensure the product is obtained from locally grown hemp since it is strictly subjected to organic farming techniques. 

    The Bottom Line

    CBD and THC edibles have become more popular in recent years. Although marijuana is widely known for its psychoactive properties, studies are ongoing to comprehend the effects of Cannabidiol. However, CBD has proven to be non-psychoactive and has various medical benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate pain and anti-anxiety properties that reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. Although CBD is legal at the Federal level, THC is still considered a Schedule 1 Drug due to its psychoactive properties. However, some states have legalized the recreational use of THC and CBD products, including edibles. While purchasing CBD and THC edibles, confirm the hemp source and whether the product has undergone third-party tests. 


    Crippa, J. A., Guimarães, F. S., Campos, A. C., & Zuardi, A. W. (2018). Translational investigation of the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD): toward a new age. Frontiers in immunology9, 2009.

    Jastrząb, A., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., Markowska, A., Wroński, A., Gęgotek, A., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2021). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect of cannabidiol contributes to the decreased lipid peroxidation of keratinocytes of rat skin exposed to UV radiation. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity2021.

    Khalsa, J. H., Bunt, G., Maggirwar, S. B., & Kottilil, S. (2021). COVID-19 and cannabidiol (CBD). Journal of Addiction Medicine15(5), 355.

    Taylor, B. N., Mueller, M., & Sauls, R. S. (2018). Cannaboinoid antiemetic therapy.

     van de Donk, T., Niesters, M., Kowal, M. A., Olofsen, E., Dahan, A., & van Velzen, M. (2019). An experimental randomized study on the analgesic effects of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis in chronic pain patients with fibromyalgia. Pain160(4), 860.



    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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