CBD vs THC: What are the main differences?

We've come leaps and bounds in terms of education...

Skip back just a couple of years and whenever anyone mentioned the three magic letters “C B D” everyone in the room would immediately jump to the conclusion of marijuana usage and “getting high”. 

We’ve come on leaps and bounds in the education of the substance and although there’s less of a stigma attached, there’s still one that lurks by the CBD-infused products and oils. 

I’m not saying it’s a negative thing, it’s good that the general public is wary of any new apparent healthcare “wonder substance”, but both the research and education surrounding CBD still has a long way to go. 

One of the biggest misconceptions or “sticking-points” surrounding CBD is exactly how it differs from THC, the active compound found in marijuana. So, in the interest of education, let’s ask - what exactly are the main differences between CBD and THC? 

What actually is CBD 

First off, I think it’s important to start with a couple of definitions to make sure that we’re all on the same page, and what better place to begin with defining CBD. 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 400 compounds found in marijuana and is responsible for counteracting the effects of THC. Although the molecule is almost identical, CBD will not give you the “high” associated with marijuana. 

What actually is THC 

It’s hardly a fair comparison if we’re not defining both compounds, which begs the question, what actually is THC?

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound of marijuana, responsible for that “high” feeling felt following marijuana ingestion. 

Medical uses of CBD vs THC

Although it’s often reported that it’s only CBD that can be used to treat health conditions, THC comes with a variety of its own medical uses. 

According to Digital Authority, CBD is famed for its health benefits and uses including treatment for anxiety, arthritis, ADHD, stress, epilepsy, and depression, among many others. You’d be forgiven for thinking that THC does not have any associated health benefits, but this couldn’t be further from the truth with a whole host of benefits associated with the compound. 

Those that use THC can find benefits with the treatment of glaucoma, anxiety, insomnia, appetite issues, and nausea symptoms. It’s the wide range of benefits that originally led to the legalization of medical marijuana in the US. 

The table below highlights just some of the medical uses that can be seen with CBD usage compared to some benefits of THC usage. 

 

Medical uses of CBD

Medical uses of THC 

Anti-seizure

Anti-nauseant

Anti-inflammatory 

Appetite stimulant 

Analgesic

Analgesic

Anti-tumor effects 

Reduces glaucoma symptoms

Antipsychotic

Sleep aid 

Inflammatory bowel disease 

Anti-anxiety

Depression

Muscular spasticity 

Table: Just some of the medical uses of CBD vs the medical uses of THC

It’s clear that the pair of compounds are suited to different areas of healthcare. 

Differences in feeling between CBD and THC

One of the main differences between CBD and THC is how an individual will feel following consumption. 

As a general rule, following the ingestion of CBD, there are no noteworthy feelings or sensations, showing that CBD is very well tolerated. Similarly, one 2011 review stated that humans tolerate incredibly high doses of CBD (up to 1500mg) particularly well, showing minimal side-effects.

When it comes to THC consumption, the majority of users report feeling “high” thanks to the intoxicating properties of the compound. Similar to CBD, humans respond very well to high doses of marijuana, showing minimal long-lasting side-effects. 

Although THC is likely to lead to strange feelings and CBD unlikely to lead to the same, neither of the two compounds is expected to leave any long term damage or health issues. 

Legality differences between CBD and THC

The legality surrounding any cannabinoid product within the US is entirely dependent on the THC concentration of the product. 

As of current, both marijuana and THC are specifically listed and found in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, making the pair strictly prohibited under federal law. However, 33 U.S. states and Washington D.C. have since passed their own policies surrounding cannabis permission in medical marijuana with high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol. 

For 11 of those states, they have taken the policies one step further, permitting the recreational use of both marijuana and THC, good news for those wishing to use THC for health benefits.

CBD, on the other hand, is legal in all 50 states in the US as the compound is not recognized as a controlled substance. According to DailyCBDmag, providing that the source is derived from high-CBD, low-THC hemp, the compound is totally legal unless extracted from marijuana. 

If the CBD has been derived from marijuana, it is noted that unless in a state that permits recreational use, or has a state-regulated program for medical usage, the compound is found to be illegal. 

To cut a long story short

When talking about the differences between CBD and THC, we could go for hours, investigating the nitty-gritty between the two, all the way down to the fundamental chemical structures, but there’s not a whole lot of sense in that. 

To cut a long story short, there are just a handful of noteworthy differences between CBD and THC that you should know about. 

  1. When looking at the medical uses, there are a number of associated benefits to both CBD and THC. Each of the two compounds is suited to separate health conditions/benefits, neither of the two can be classed as better or worse. 

  2. Following the consumption of CBD, there are no noteworthy associated feelings or sensations that are reported by users. The opposite is true for THC and users report intoxicating properties known as the “high” feeling. 

  3. Providing that the CBD products chosen are hemp-derived, there will be no issues in legality in all 50 states in the US. If the CBD products are cannabis-derived, the products will share the same legality as THC in the states e.g. only legal in one of the 11 states in which recreational usage is allowed or one of the remaining 22 in which medical usage is permitted.


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