The Difference Between CBD and THC Explained

The Difference Between CBD and THC Explained

Until the recent changes in state laws surrounding the legal status of cannabis, most people had never even heard of CBD, the other main chemical found in marijuana besides THC. In 33 states, medical cannabis is now legal, including 11 states where recreational cannabis is legal. Congress passed the Farm Bill in late 2018 that now allows the entire country to grow hemp legally; aside from marijuana, hemp is another source of CBD.

The word on the street is that THC and CBD products can do things like cancer, help you sleep, and get rid of your anxiety. It is no wonder then that the popularity of cannabis products unsurprisingly on the rise because people are getting curious. All of this begs a few questions that are no doubt in many people’s minds. What exactly is CBD? How is it different from THC? Yes, there are some major differences between CBD and THC, particularly in terms of their different effects on the body and their legal status.

CBD Does NOT Get You High

The primary difference between CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)is that THC has psychoactive effects that produce the feeling of being “high,” while CBD does not. Despite this big difference, the CBD molecule and the THC molecule are practically identical. Just one tiny variation separates them, though their chemical formulas are the same: C21H30O2.

Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids, affecting the body’s system. The system receptors throughout the body that partake in many of our physiological processes, including mood regulation, memory, pain, appetite, and sex drive. THC causes the high while CBD does not because THC binds to receptors in the brain more effectively than CBD.

You can find CBD and THC in both marijuana and hemp. Marijuana often contains high quantities of THC, whereas hemp is a variety of cannabis with a maximum of .3 percent THC. Marijuana and hemp contain varying amounts of CBD.

The Alleged Health Benefits of CBD and THC Overlap


More and more people are using CBD because of claims that it can ease ailments like anxiety, stress, chronic pain,arthritis, and sleep disorders, to name a few, without causing intoxication. Unlike using marijuana, people can use CBD productsdaily for theiralleged benefits without feeling mentally impaired.

Theclaims for the health benefits of CBD are more or lessthe same claims for the benefits of THC. Its the side effect of feeling “high” that deters people from using THC products. CBD does not have any known serious side effects. This makes it not only a great alternative to products with THC, but it is also a potential alternative to traditional medications that often produce dangerous side effects like dependence and addiction.

In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first CBD-based drug ever, and it is for treating epilepsy. This is after extensive clinical studies have shown CBD to be highly effective in reducing the quantity and severity of epileptic seizures. So far, there is not enough research to prove CBD’s effectiveness in treating any other condition, nor enough research to prove THC’s medical benefits at all.That being said, studies are ongoing as far as CBD and THC. It seems to be only a matter of time before the FDA approves additional CBD-based products for other conditions. This may eventually be the case for THC as well; as some studies show that, the two chemicals are more effective at treating various conditions when working in conjunction.

The Legal Status of CBD Versus THC

On a national level, while hemp is legal, the US government still considers THC-rich marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, the same classification as cocaine and heroin. Schedule 1 drugs have no known medical uses and a high risk of abuse. That means depending on where you live, be careful about your use of both THC and CBD.

While CBD is legal in all 50 states, in some states, only hemp-derived CBD is legal, not marijuana-derived CBD. If you are in a state, where marijuana is not legal recreationally or medically, only hemp-derived CBD is legal to use. You can then assume that all the CBD products found in health food stores in that state,like CBD oil, balms, and lotions, from hemp.

THC for recreational use is legal in 11 states plus Washington, D.C., and in those states, all CBD use regardless of the source. Aside from that, it is best to check your state’s laws to determine what kind of CBD use they allow. Additional research is necessary to determine the effects and health benefits of both THC and CBD. Unfortunately, the science behind the uses of cannabis remains limited from its legal status on a national level. Without controlling it as a substance, tracking its effects with accuracy becomes difficult. The lack of regulation has also led to products containing unknown ingredients. That means you never really know what else is in your CBD oil besides CBD, and you will not until the FDA can regulate it.That being said, Canada’s recent national legalization of cannabis for recreational use should help the research process move more quickly.

Author: Mathew Rogers

Bio: Sam is a registered medical cannabis expert; health, food, and fitness coach certified through Wellcoaches. His passion for work in the field of cannabis made him start writing on a variety of health supplements like CBD. He lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and two kids.

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