CBD vs THC: What’s the Difference?


The cannabis industry is pulling in tons of green and is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, $146 billion by 2025 to be exact!

Though there are lots of gray areas surrounding cannabis, the most substantial topic of concern is CBD vs THC. More so, what are they and how do they differ?

In this article, we are going to clear the smoke and examine what makes these two compounds do vastly different. 

Cannabis Clarified

Cannabis is the name for a group of specific plants. It’s most commonly referred to as marijuana, but is also hemp. Cannabis is divided into three basic types of strains: sativa, indica, and hybrid.

There are over 120 chemical components called cannabinoids found in cannabis, but the two that cause the most controversy are CBD and THC. They are both located in the Sativa strain of cannabis. 

What Is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of the 120 cannabinoids. It’s found in medical marijuana as well as hemp.

One of the main differences between THC and CBD is that CBD does not produce a psychoactive effect. That is, it cannot provide you with that ”high” feeling you’d typically get from smoking marijuana.

Because the evidence for the medicinal properties of CBD is emerging, CBD is sold in tinctures, supplements, gummies, infused in creams or lotions, or used as a vaping oil.

What Is THC?

THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. This compound is the one that’s responsible for the ”high” feeling you get when smoking marijuana. Besides smoking, it can be found in capsules, edibles, tinctures, and so on. 

The Endocannabinoid System

Did you know you had an entire system inside your body that works with cannabinoids from marijuana?

The endocannabinoid system (EC) basic responsibility is to keep everything in balance. Located in the nervous system, it works with receptors to let you know when something is off in your body. 

EC helps regulate these systems in your body:

  • Temperature
  • Memory
  • Pain
  • Moods
  • Controlling inflammation
  • Appetite
  • Immunity

When you ingest cannabinoids, the receptors from the EC attach to the cannabinoids and break them down. One of the reasons you gain a high from THC is because THC cannot be broken down. 

CBD, on the other hand, works to inhibit receptors from breaking it down. This causes an abundance of anandamide, another cannabinoid, to be produced in the body. Anandamide is a molecule that generates feelings of motivation and pleasure.

Similarities and Differences

Both THC and CBD are considered safe. Despite the main difference in the effects of CBD and THC, there are some similarities and differences. 


The chemical make up of both CBD and THC is similar. Each has 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Despite their identical molecular structure, the arrangement of the particles is what causes distinct reactions within your body’s endocannabinoid system.


Even though the research is ongoing and promising on the health benefits of THC, according to the law, it’s still illegal in many states. Under federal law, it’s classified as an illegal substance. 

Despite this, many states have passed laws regarding medical marijuana making it accessible to patients. However, the only caveat is that people need a prescription. Some states have passed laws that allow access to recreational marijuana, in which there is no prescription.

CBD oil, when extracted from the hemp plant, is legal…in all states. CBD from hemp is easier to find and acquire.

A general rule before you decide to buy either marijuana or CBD in any form, examine your state’s laws to make sure you’re abiding by them. 


Another reason how marijuana and hemp vary is because of the amount of THC that is derived from marijuana. In an average strain of marijuana, the THC count is about 12%. Hemp has 0.3% or less, but some THC is to be expected because it’s in the cannabis family. This low amount of THC found in hemp is so low, though, that it does not cause any “high”.

However, if you’re planning on taking a drug test, be aware that even though THC and CBD act differently in the body, they both can show up on a drug test. 

Benefits of CBD

While the health benefits of CBD are still being uncovered, there’s several that are already known:

  • Reduces pain and inflammation
  • Aids in anxiety and depression
  • Reduce seizures, especially in children
  • Calms nausea
  • Promoting focus for those with mental illnesses like ADHD

CBD can help people who suffer from these ailments; however, the results could vary from person to person. Before deciding to purchase CBD oil, ensure it is produced safely.

Benefits of THC

Like CBD, THC also has benefits which cover much of the same ground as CBD:

  • Insomnia
  • Muscle spasms
  • Encouraged appetite
  • Glaucoma
  • Calms nausea 
  • Helps relieve anxiety

THC is still illegal in many areas in the United States, both medicinally and recreationally. Always check your state’s laws before you decide to purchase marijuana.

Side Effects

Even though CBD is considered safe, typically the only side effects reported are possible drowsiness if taking too much, or dry mouth.

THC has some side effects and could even cause long-term damage to the brain and heart, especially in teenagers. 

The psychoactive properties are responsible for the side effects of THC. Short-term side effects can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Red eyes
  • Slow to react 
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth 
  • Paranoia

THC could even worsen some medical disorders like heart disease, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and others. 

CBD vs THC, The Final Verdict

Overall, the facts about CBD and THC are very similar but with striking differences. The debate of CBD vs THC isn’t one that will be cleared up quickly, but continuing research, we can find out more about how these components work and the role they play in our health.

Curious if CBD oil might work for you? Contact us to get all your questions answered!