CDB vs THC: The Key Differences

a marijuana leaf grows in the sun

CBD and THC are two distinct cannabinoids that can be found in the cannabis plant. They are both capable of interacting with the endocannabinoid system but they have two distinctly different natural effects on it.

There are many more different kinds of cannabinoids that can be found in the plant. However, CBD and THC are easily the most researched cannabinoids.

Below, we will briefly go over what each is.

What is CBD?

healeaf drops

CBD or Cannabidiol (learn more at is actually one of the very first cannabinoids that were discovered. Because of this, it is currently one of the most well researched and well-documented compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant.

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. Therefore, it is not going to produce the same type of ‘high’ effect that you might get from other compounds found in the cannabis plant. This is the biggest thing to note about CBD because it often gets lumped into the same category as THC when it doesn’t produce the same effects on the brain.

There has been a lot of research that indicates CBD oil has a lot of health benefits that extend beyond that of THC. Some of the health benefits that have been noted are stress and anxiety reduction, reduction in nausea, and more.

What is THC?

THC is the most well-known compound that can be found in the cannabis plant. It is the compound that generates the ‘high’ feeling that you get when you smoke marijuana. It creates a euphoric type of sensation that can be enhanced or lowered depending on the concentration found in the marijuana.

With that being said, there are still some therapeutic and medicinal benefits that can be derived from THC along with CBD. THC has been known to help with a variety of things including some that are similar to CBD like altering mood states, thought, and even a variety of medicinal properties.

Now that we have gone over some introduction information that you will be able to use to better understand the two compounds we will be going over some of the most significant differences between the two.

Main Differences Between CBD and THC:

1. Non-Psychoactive Versus Psychoactive

a cannabis plant and leaves

One of the most significant differences between the two is the fact that one (CBD) is a non-psychoactive component and the other is a psychoactive component. This is the primary difference between the two because one creates a ‘high effect’ whereas the other does not create the same effect when used.

THC is generally the cannabinoid that is the most well known. It also happens to be the primary cannabinoid that people think about when they think about marijuana. The reason why THC is able to create a ‘high’ feeling or sensation is that of the way that it interacts with and binds with CB1 receptors in the brain. Because it activates these receptors by binding to them, it creates a ‘high’ sensation that you don’t experience with CBD.

This is primarily because CBD doesn’t interact the same way. CBD is not capable of binding to the CB1 receptors. Because of this, it doesn’t create the same feeling. In fact, CBD is actually rejected by the CB1 receptors which means that they don’t look to bind to one another at all.

This ultimately means that CBD can never have the same psychoactive component or element that you would find with THC because it is unable to activate the same receptors that are a requirement to experience the ‘high’ feeling.

2. Hemp and Marijuana.

When it comes to CBD and THC, you will generally find them throughout the seeds, flowers, and even stalks of both hemp and marijuana. However, you will find more of each in marijuana and hemp plants.

When it comes to marijuana plants, you are generally going to find that THC is much more abundant. THC tends to dominate the chemical makeup of marijuana plants. Whereas, when you take a look at hemp plants, you are generally going to find that it is dominated by CBD.

Throughout the years a lot of marijuana growers have altered the amount of concentration of THC in plants to enhance the high the brand of marijuana is capable of producing. A normal THC concentration level sits anywhere from 1 to 3 percent of the plant. However, there are marijuana strains on the marketplace nowadays that have percentages that go all the way up to 12 percent to produce an even more pronounced ‘high’ effect on the user.

Hemp has a very different makeup. Instead of featuring a lot of THC, it contains a majority CBD. In fact, hemp typically doesn’t contain enough THC to produce any sort of ‘high’ effect at all. Hemp is typically the preferred source of CBD due to the high concentrations it contains.

3. Health Benefits

a woman jumps for joy after taking cbd

Another area where each differs is with the health benefits that each provides. One of the biggest things that cause the difference in health benefits with the two distinct compounds is the effect that they have on the body.

Because CBD primarily binds to receptors that are distributed equally throughout the entire body, it is going to have a much more significant impact throughout your entire body.

Whereas, THC primarily binds to receptors that can be found in your brain which means it is mainly going to deal with mood and brain effects.

Because CBD oil is capable of being distributed throughout your entire body, it is going to be good for producing a strong anti-inflammatory effect throughout your body. This alone makes it good for treating a variety of inflammatory conditions and diseases.

A lot of the diseases and conditions that exist are primarily caused by and/or worsened with inflammation. Because of this, the successful reduction of inflammation can have a positive impact on treating the disease or condition.

Along with being an anti-inflammatory that can be used throughout your entire body, it takes its effects even further. It is capable of providing a layer of protection for your cells. Because of this, it is used in a variety of instances including among those that suffer from seizures, arthritis, and even MS.

While more research is needed, it has even shown promise in its ability to inhibit and reduce the spread of cancer cells throughout the body.

4. Potential and Known Side Effects

THC is the compound that is going to have many more side effects because it happens to be a psychoactive compound. These properties can lead to a variety of different temporary side effects including dry mouth, red eyes, increased heart rate, significantly lower reaction time, and more.

While THC can come with some negative side effects that can cause short-term issues, it is not possible to have an overdose resulting in fatality with it.

When it comes to CBD, even large doses of it have been shown to be safe.¬†While some of the side effects that you might experience with THC are there, it typically doesn’t have any sort of side effects that are deemed serious.

5. The Legality of THC and CBD

Another major difference comes with the legality of the two distinct compounds. While a lot of states have their own legal issues to consider, marijuana and THC are both listed under the Controlled Substances Act which prohibits them by law. Therefore, they are technically illegal in the eyes of the Federal Government despite states having their own state laws. Some states have even legalized the recreational use of marijuana whereas many more have legalized the medical use of marijuana.

CBD is legal when it is not extracted from marijuana. When derived from the marijuana plant instead of the hemp plant, it must be bought from a state that has legalized the medical use of marijuana or one that legalized the recreational use of it.

Therefore, if you are looking to obtain CBD oil or CBD products, you are going to need to be sure that you are buying it legally and that the CBD products you are buying are not derived from marijuana plants. Otherwise, you would be obtaining it illegally.

There is a big grey area when it comes to CBD. Therefore, you want to be sure that you are informing yourself enough when you are dealing with it because it will help to ensure that you are not breaking any laws.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are a lot of differences between CBD and THC. While they are both cannabinoids, each have their own distinct differences which make them have their own distinct effects on the body and mind.

The biggest difference is the fact that THC is psychoactive whereas CBD is not. Because of this, CBD is not going to produce the same ‘high’ feeling that you would get when you take THC.

Even though CBD doesn’t produce the same ‘high’ effect, it is still deemed illegal in a lot of places throughout the world. The differences between the two are real and they make a big difference in the usage of each.