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  • by Nicola Boulton August 31, 2022 5 min read

    What’s the Difference between CBD and THC?

    CBD and THC are found in the cannabis hemp plant but differ in their psychoactive effects. CBD does not have psychoactive effects, but THC does, so it can get you 'high.' This article will look closely at the differences between CBD and THC.

    CBD has grown more popular in recent years. Furthermore, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana, which led to the large-scale production of CBD products such as gummies, capsules, tinctures, and topicals like creams and lotions. Additionally, CBD has anti-bacterial benefits that remove bacteria from the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce muscle and skin inflammation.

    CBD has various formulations, such as full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate CBD. on the flip side, THC is a cannabinoid also found in cannabis. Although it has various medicinal properties and intoxicating effects, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug. This article will focus on the difference between CBD and THC and the benefits of these cannabinoids.

    What is CBD?                                                             

    CBD is a chemical compound found in the cannabis hemp plant. It is one of the major natural compounds found in the Sativa plant. According to Pamplona et al. 2018, it does not cause any 'high' sensations. Furthermore, CBD is popular for its potential health benefits, such as alleviating cancer-related diseases, anxiety, pain, depression, epilepsy, and other conditions.

    How Do I Know CBD products is Safe?

    When purchasing CBD products, several factors indicate the product's safety levels. Many CBD products are available in the market; unfortunately, there are also various low-quality CBD products. Therefore, purchasing CBD products from a trustworthy company that tests their products is very important.

    The third-party lab tests are conducted to ascertain the authenticity of the products. Additionally, they are conducted to ensure the manufacturers' transparency by checking the available compounds in the products. Some brands may claim to offer pure products, but the products contain other harmful compounds such as heavy metals, pesticides, and solvents.

    Additionally, you should also consider the hemp source. Kentucky and Colorado are popular for producing high-quality hemp plants used in CBD processing. Therefore, a trustworthy company indicates their hemp source and the extraction method.

    Also, the best CBD products should not contain more than 0.3% of the THC compound. This is because 0.3% content of THC is not enough to get the user' high'. 

    What is THC?

    THC is a common cannabinoid found in the cannabis hemp plant. It has psychoactive effects, and therefore, it causes a "high" sensation.  Furthermore, it interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors by activating them, influencing a person's perception, thinking, coordination, and concentration.

    Comparing CBD vs. THC

    Chemical Structure

    CBD and THC have the same molecular structure but differ in how the atoms are arranged. They comprise 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. Furthermore, they have a similar chemical structure to your body’s endocannabinoids, allowing them to bind with endocannabinoid receptors. Learn more about how is cbd made?

    Psychoactive Components

    Although CBD and THC have similar chemical structures, they differ in their psychoactive effects. Unlike CBD, THC is psychoactive and thus causes a 'high' feeling in a person's body. CBD binds weakly with CB2 receptors and may require a THC boost to bind with the CB1 receptors. This reduces the psychoactive effects that THC may cause. Additionally, THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain, producing a euphoric feeling, which may lead to higher anxiety levels. Learn more about how to use cbd tincture?

    CBD vs. THC: Legality

    The legality of CBD and THC depends on the state's law. Some states have legalized CBD for medical use, while others have only legalized it for recreational use. Therefore, these states only allow the use of CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC. Before you buy any cannabis products, properly research the state's law regarding the usage of cannabis products.

    Medical Benefits

    CBD and THC have various medical benefits, although CBD does not cause any euphoric effects. Most people consider using CBD over THC (Englund et al., 2013). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved using CBD medication called Epidiolex to treat infrequent epileptic conditions.

    According to Atalay et al. (2020), CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce muscle and skin inflammation.

    Taylor et al. (2018) suggested that CBD has antiemetic properties that improve stomach and gastrointestinal health.

    According to Dawidowicz et al. (2021), CBD has antioxidant properties that improve skin health by preventing oxidative stress.

    CBD vs. THC: Side Effects

    Although both CBD and THC have some medical benefits, CBD is commonly used by most people because it does not cause a euphoric effect like the THC compound. CBD is manageable in the body, and any side effects associated with CBD may be a result of interacting with other medications. These side effects include migraines, drowsiness, vomiting, and nausea.

    THC's psychoactive effects may cause short term side effects such as memory loss, red eyes, coordination problems, and higher anxiety levels.

    CBD vs. THC: Drug Testing

    Pure CBD does not test positive in a drug test since the test looks for traces of THC. Therefore, if CBD products have traces of THC, it may show in a drug test. For example, full spectrum CBD products have small traces of THC, below 0.3%, to prevent any psychoactive effects. However, CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD have zero traces of THC. A drug test may also test positive three weeks after using THC if the cannabinoid is frequently used.

    CBD and THC have similar consumption methods. For example, they can be consumed as gummies, oil, and tinctures. They can also be inhaled using vape pens or smoking the dried cannabis flower.  It is worth noting that these consumption methods vary in bioavailability. For example, CBD tinctures are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream since the gut doesn't process them. However, CBD gummies and capsules take longer to be absorbed into the bloodstream since the gut must process them.

    Which One Should I Choose between CBD and THC?

    Choosing the right product depends on your desires and the health conditions you wish to alleviate. CBD can efficiently reduce stress and improve sleep without THC's psychoactive effects. Conversely, THC efficiently deals with chronic stress, tremors, poor appetite, and extreme epileptic symptoms.

    Further research shows that taking CBD and THC together improves their therapeutic benefits due to the entourage effect. Additionally, CBD is believed to reduce some of the psychoactive effects caused by THC.


    CBD and THC can be extracted from hemp, but they vary in several ways. The main difference between CBD and THC is that CBD does not have any psychoactive effects which cause a "high" sensation. On the other hand, THC has psychoactive effects, and it can cause a body "high."

    Pure CBD cannot show in a drug test. CBD compound is known for its health benefits, such as treating anxiety, pain, depression, and other medical conditions.

    CBD is legal in various states for recreational and medicinal use. This can be attributed to the Farm Bill passed in 2018 that removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana. Therefore, while purchasing CBD or THC products, confirm whether they are legalized in your local state.


    Pamplona, F. A., da Silva, L. R., & Coan, A. C. (2018). Potential Clinical Benefits of CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts over Purified CBD in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: Observational Data Meta-analysis. Frontiers in Neurology, 9.

    Dawidowicz, A. L., Olszowy-Tomczyk, M., & Typek, R. (2021). CBG, CBD, Δ9-THC, CBN, CBGA, CBDA, and Δ9-THCA as antioxidant agents and their intervention abilities in antioxidant action. Fitoterapia, 152, 104915.

    Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2020). Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol. Antioxidants, 9(1), 21.

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


    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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