What is The Difference Between CBD and THC?


The cannabis plant has been at the centre of worldwide controversy in recent years, as restrictive cannabis policies are starting to shift toward more compassionate medical and recreational use laws.

This patchwork of change, however, has created a confusing and often contradicting set of cannabis policies, making it difficult to know exactly where you stand when trying to access cannabis where you live.

Here, we answer the question: What's the difference between CBD and THC?

CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) are the two most well-known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Both are present in marijuana and hemp, but in varying concentrations.

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Key Points

  1. Chemical Structure: Both CBD and THC have the same molecular structure but different arrangements, leading to different effects.
  2. Psychoactive Effects: THC is psychoactive, while CBD is not.
  3. Legal Status: CBD is generally legal in more places than THC.
  4. Medical Benefits: Both compounds offer various health benefits but are used for different conditions.
Attribute CBD THC 
Chemical Properties Non-psychoactive Psychoactive
Common Forms Oils, tinctures, edibles Smoked in bud form, oils, edibles
Medical Uses Used in medical cannabis products against inflammatory bowel disease, seizures, depression, inflammation, psychosis, migraine etc. Pain relief, nausea, glaucoma
Addictive No Can be
Receptor Binding Does not bind with CB1 receptors in the brain Binds with CB1 receptors in the brain

What is THC?

List of differences between CBD and THC

Chemical Structure

CBD and THC have the same molecular formula, C21H30O2, but their atoms are arranged differently. This difference in arrangement is what leads to their varying effects on the human body.

The structural formulas of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) including the location of the cyclic ring in THC and the hydroxyl group in CBD.

Psychoactive Effects

One of the most significant differences between CBD and THC is that THC is psychoactive, meaning it produces a "high" or sense of euphoria.

CBD, on the other hand, does not produce this effect and is often used for its potential therapeutic benefits without the high.

Does CBD have an intoxicating effect?

Medical Benefits

CBD is used in medical cannabis products for conditions like anxiety, depression, and certain types of epilepsy.

THC is often used for conditions like chronic pain, glaucoma, and insomnia.

How They Work

Both CBD and THC interact with the body's endocannabinoid system but have very different effects. THC binds with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain to produce a high, while CBD has little affinity for CB1 receptors, meaning it won't make you high

Side Effects

While both compounds are generally considered safe, THC's psychoactive properties can lead to side effects like impaired memory and coordination, increased heart rate, and dry mouth.

CBD is known for its fewer side effects, which may include dry mouth, diarrhea, and changes in appetite or weight.

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While CBD and THC both come from the cannabis plant and share many similarities, they are distinct compounds with different effects, legal statuses, and benefits. Understanding these differences can help consumers make informed decisions about which compound is more suitable for their needs.

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