With the growing demand for cannabis products, there has been a massive debate on CBD vs. THC.

Cannabis compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are becoming popular due to the numerous health benefits they provide. [1]

CBD primarily comes from the Hemp plant, whereas THC is the key psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The latter is known to give you the sensation of high when you smoke marijuana. 

While both of the compounds have a lot in common, they interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system quite differently.

This article explains the key difference between CBD and THC, which may help you determine how to use them.


The Differences Between THC & CBD

1. CBD Vs. THC: Molecular Structure

While THC and CBD are nearly identical twins, there is a slight difference in their molecular structure.  

Both of them have the same chemical makeup — 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. 

However, what makes these substances different is the arrangement of a single atom that determines how CBD and THC interact with your body’s cannabinoid receptors, CB1, and CB2. [2]

The interaction between cannabinoids with these receptors are the catalyst for the health benefits you may get from CBD or THC.

2. CBD Vs. THC: Getting High

While both of them are cannabinoids, CBD, and THC interact with different receptors in a person’s brain.

THC binds with the CB1 receptors with your brain and causes a sense of euphoria or high. [3]

On the other hand, CBD is nonpsychoactive, meaning that it does not bind directly with CB1. It can even reduce the psychoactive effects by interfering with the binding of THC.

3. CBD Vs. THC: Health Benefits

Both THC and CBD have almost similar effects in treating several medical conditions. You may treat several diseases using these substances. However, there are slight variations in the uses of them. [4]

CBD is typically used to manage the following conditions:

  • Seizures.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Mental disorders or psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Migraines
  • Depression

THC is well known for its positive effects on treating glaucoma. A pilot study shows THC was effective in reducing intraocular pressure compared to CBD. [5]

Besides, THC is particularly helpful in treating the following conditions:

  • Insomnia
  • Low appetite
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea

4. THC Vs. CBD: Potential Side Effects

When it comes to side effects, CBD is considered safe, even in large doses. 

However, you are likely to experience some side effects because of the drug-to-drug interaction between CBD and other prescribed medications, according to a report by the World Health Organization. [6]

Due to the presence of psychoactive properties, THC may have the following side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Coordination problem
  • Increased heart rate
  • Red eyes
  • Memory loss
  • Slower reaction time

While none of the components is fatal, you need to be careful about THC. It’s because taking THC in high doses may cause long-term psychiatric effects, such as schizophrenia.


5. CBD Vs. THC: Legality Explained

Due to the mind-altering effects on people, THC is classified as an illegal substance in different countries, including the United States.

CBD is still in a gray area of the law because of its close relationship with THC, but it’s much safer to use from a legal perspective.

Both of the substances’ legal issues in the United States are evolving on a regular basis. All types of cannabis are considered illegal in the states who haven’t legalized it yet.

However, medical marijuana with a high level of THC is legal in Washington and some other states, where you can get them if they are prescribed by a licensed physician.

You can purchase CBD if you live in a state where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational purpose. Get proper information about your state’s law before buying CBD to avoid legal penalty.

The average marijuana contains around 12% of THC. Hemp also contains some THC, meaning that it can be present in the CBD oil. However, to be legally sold in the U.S., CBD must have less than 0.3% of THC.

6. THC Vs. CBD: Do They Appear in Drug Test?

Cannabinoids can show up in drug test days or weeks after you use them. It’s because these compounds are stored in the body’s fat.

Although most standard drug test will look for chemicals related to THC, there are some tests that can detect CBD.

As hemp can also produce some THC along with CBD, it may appear in a drug test.


Both CBD and THC have numerous health benefits, which you may get through smoking, vaping, using oils, or consuming edibles.

Despite their medicinal values, THC and CBD remain illegal federally. Although some of the states have made them legal, you need to be well aware before purchasing them.

If you’re under medication, talk to your doctor before using THC or CBD to avoid possible interactions with prescribed drugs.

Although both of them possess a number of health benefits, CBD is a safer option as it won’t make you high as the THC does.

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