What Are The Differences Between CBD And THC

Recently, there has been a massive amount of information flying around about CBD, THC, cannabinoids, hemp, and cannabis. In just the last year, the interest specifically in CBD has surged. For anybody who is attempting to get some real information on why there has been this huge all-around push from legislation to the business world, it can get very confusing and overwhelming rather quickly. However, it is very important to understand what each of these terms mean and how they play a role in the new way that is poised to hit the mainstream. Numerous new businesses have sprung and there are even more being formed still, that are based around the major differences between THC and CBD. The following is a breakdown of the differences between THC and CBD and some of the important information about them.


It is very important to have a good understanding of what cannabinoids are. Cannabinoids are a diverse class of chemical compounds. They interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptor cells and alter the release inside the brain of the neurotransmitter. A variety of cannabinoids are produced by the cannabis plant. It has been stated that it is more than 100. However, it is not known what the exact number in cannabis actually is. Around 85 have been identified to date. The most discussed and well known are THC and CBD out of all of the cannabinoids. They are found inside the cannabis plant and extracted from it. CBD stands for cannabidiol. This chemical compound is derived from the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a cannabinoid as well. The major difference between them is THC is psychoactive – which means it can make you high – which CBD does not do.

Legal Differences

Due to the ability of THC to induce a mind-altering high effect on people, it is classified by the U.S. DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) as a Schedule 1 drug despite the fact that marijuana has been legalized by some states for recreational, medical, or personal use. It is considered that the potential for abuse is high, and lacks accepted safety to use with medical supervision and in the U.S. does not have any medically accepted treatment purpose.

On the other hand, CBD is legal at the federal level when derived from hemp since as of the 2018 US Farm Bill, it is not on the controlled substances list any longer. It is considered to be an agricultural commodity which includes its derivatives, cannabinoids, and extracts. The DEA does not have any claim any longer to interfere with hemp products and interstate commerce as long as it has a THC level at or less than 0.3%. This clarity should provide federally regulated entities, like companies, advertising platforms, distributors, e-commerce sites, pharmacies, merchant services, banks, and more – to have the confidence to conduct their business as long as the specifications are adhered to. However, it is a federal law which doesn’t legalize CBD derived from marijuana or overrule state law. The U.S. States still have their own regulations and restrictions pertaining to CBD – as long they don’t interfere with it being transported across state lines.

Although the legality of cannabis products continues to be fragmented and patchy, in government there is a serious push towards full legalization at some point. That is why the industry that surrounds CBD has been projected to be at $22 billion as soon as 2020.

Common Uses

THC and CBD each have their own roles. However, the difference is which illnesses and ailment each of them may be used as treatments for. CBD may be used to alleviate numerous conditions including migraines, nausea, depression, anxiety, inflammatory bowel disease, mental disorders, psychosis, chronic pain, inflammation, and epilepsy. THC may be used for treating chronic pain, glaucoma, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, a low appetite, and muscle spasms. They are similar to a Venn diagram where some parts do not touch and others overlap. Side effects are another difference. THC has them and CBD does not, along with the high feeling that many users get with THC. Also, THC can cause certain temporary side effects, including increased heart rate, problems with coordination, red eyes, slower reaction times, memory loss, and dry mouth. The side effects are one of the other reasons why many individuals choose CBD oils or CBD isolates and another thing that separates THC and CBD.

THC and CBD: Beyond The Differences

Now that we have cleared up the fundamental differences between the two, it is also very important to have a good understanding of the way that THC and CBD work together as well as complement one another. It isn’t cut and dry to just say that when it comes to cannabinoids that THC is “bad” and CBD is “good”, or that one is purely recreational and the other one is medicinal. Although THC is psychoactive, it has many therapeutic properties as well. Scripps Research Center scientists have conducted studies that have reported the ability of THC to inhibit an enzyme that has been implicated in beta-amyloid plaque formation – which is one of the main players in Alzheimer’s related dementia. It has also been found that THC and CBD work best together. This conclusion has been pointed to by scientific research that these two compounds work in synergy together and help to enhance the therapeutic effects of one another. It has been shown that they tackle health problems in tandem, display anti-tumoral and anti-inflammatory effects, and work better together than each one does separately.

Another perspective to consider is re-examining cultural attitudes regarding the psychoactive effects of THC. The average American has been told that anything with mind-alerting effects is essentially bad. Although for many people marijuana may not be preferred, there are patients still undergoing chemotherapy who now have more freedom in some states when it comes to marijuana, and have reported experiencing pain relief due to using the entire plant with all of the cannabinoids working together. Everything comes down to what an individual’s specific needs are, and what will work the best for them and their specific situation.

One other important thing to note is that both THC and CBD are stored in the fat of the body and may show up in drug tests for many weeks or days after it has been used. Although a majority of standard drug tests tend to be more sensitive towards THC, there are other tests that can detect CBD still. Even when a product such as CBD oil has 0.3 % or just under of THC, it may still cause a positive drug test result if the person takes one after using it. Therefore the person may need to take precautions, depending on the situation. Most medical drug tests and those required by employers test for the presence of THC only. If you are concerned about the possibilty of drug screening, we recommend our CBD Isolate Oil, which has no THC detected according to our third party lab’s testing procedures.


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