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Difference Between CBD and THC

If you’re wondering what’s the difference between THC and CBD you’ve come to the right place. Both THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) come from the cannabis plant, but they’re different in their effects. After all, THC is the stuff that will get you high, and CBD won’t. Though while THC has received much of the attention over most of human history, CBD is having its moment in the sun as a helpful substance that can provide some of the effects of THC without the associated feeling of being high.

Both substances are natural compounds found in the cannabis plant, though the differences between CBD and THC are powerful enough for hemp-derived CBD products to be legal nationally while THC-based products are in this grey area of growing state legality while federally it remains a controlled substance. Available as flower or various edibles, supplements and extracts, both CBD and THC interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, albeit with different effects.

CBD vs THC: Molecular Structure

Interestingly enough, both CBD and THC have mostly the same chemical structure. With 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms and 2 oxygen atoms, both chemicals are almost indistinguishable scientifically. The only difference between CBD and THC is in how the atoms are arranged — one leading to the high (THC) and another (CBD) with complicated effects that we’re only just now starting to understand.

But the key is that both unlock cannabinoid receptors in the body, allowing them to interact with and alter cognition and other aspects of your experience. Without getting too far into the science, it’s the neurotransmitters in your brain that are ultimately effected, and the chemicals that are released can alter your sleep, stress levels and your tolerance to pain, among other effects.

THC vs CBD: The High

Everyone knows that THC causes the high and CBD doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean that CBD has no psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD is psychoactive, just not to the same degree and manner as THC. You won’t get high by consuming CBD like you will with THC, but CBD has been shown to be effective in lifting the mood and reducing anxiety and stress.

On the other hand, THC binds directly with the CBD1 receptors in the brain, producing the high that many are familiar with. While CBD can bind with the CBD1 receptors in the brain, it’s not able to do so effectively without THC present, though when combined together CBD can help mitigate some of the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC. In a pinch, CBD can be used to bring you down from a too-intense high, making it a great antidote to those times when you may have consumed too much THC.

CBD vs THC: Medically

For all the differences between CBD and THC, they’re actually medically more similar than not. In fact, both THC and CBD can provide the same types of relief from certain medical conditions, and cannabis products are also regularly sold with both CBD and THC within. But because CBD doesn’t come with the same euphoric effects of THC, some may prefer to consume CBD as an alternative to THC.

The FDA is also on board with CBD, approving the CBD-based drug Epidiolex in June of 2018. It’s the first prescription drug that includes CBD, and it’s being used to treat rare forms of epilepsy. CBD is also used widely to help manage the symptoms and pain associated with various diseases, such as inflammation, pain, mental disorders, nausea, migraines, depression and anxiety, among others.

Medically, THC is often used to help manage pain, glaucoma, insomnia, low appetite, anxiety and nausea.

THC vs CBD: Effects

While THC is well known for being a substance that has no overdosing risk, CBD is also well tolerated in extreme dosages. It’s not unheard of for some CBD medications to contain thousands of mg of CBD per dose, and most side effects with CBD are actually the result of interactions with other drugs that the patient may be taking, not CBD itself.

But that doesn’t mean that CBD carries no side effects at all. Some report appetite changes, fatigue, weight loss, dizziness and diarrhea after consuming CBD. THC, on the other hand, can cause tachycardia, dry mouth, red eyes, impaired coordination and reaction times, memory loss and anxiety, though the degree of which depends on how much is consumed and the person’s individual tolerance.

But neither compound is fatal in even extreme quantities, making it overwhelmingly safe for those that seek out the healing properties of both CBD and THC.

CBD vs THC: Legality

As we mentioned earlier, CBD products are legal in any state as long as it doesn’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC by volume. While THC is not legal federally, it is legal in 33 states and counting, with many states either adopting a medical marijuana law or opting for outright recreational legalization.


To learn more about the difference between CBD and THC, as well as where you can purchase both, discover California’s best cannabis today!