CBD or THC?
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two chemical compounds in hemp and marijuana plants.
But how do they differ?
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t give you a psychoactive ‘high’.
Moreover, CBD is legal in the UK and other countries, while THC is illegal.
But there’s more to it than that.
Let’s explore all the CBD vs THC differences in detail…
Also Check Out:
- CBD vs THC: What You Need to Know
- Difference #1: What They Are
- Difference #2: Chemical Structures
- Difference #3: How They Make You Feel
- Difference #4: Medical Benefits
- Difference #5: Potential Side Effects
- Difference #6: Legal Aspects
- Difference #7: Drug Test Results
- 4 Other CBD vs THC FAQs
|CBD||THC (Delta 9 THC)|
|Extracted from||Mostly hemp plants||Marijuana plants|
|Chemistry||CBD and THC have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, they’re arranged differently.
As a result, CBD and THC bind to your cannabinoid receptor system (CB1 and CB2 receptors) differently.
|CBD and THC have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, they’re arranged differently.
As a result, CBD and THC bind to your cannabinoid receptor system (CB1 and CB2 receptors) differently
|How they make you feel||CBD makes you feel calm and balanced.||THC produces a “high” psychoactive effect.|
CBD can help with:
THC can help with:
|Potential side effects (at extremely high doses)||
|Legality||The UK: Yes
The US: Yes
|The UK: No
The US: Supplements with up to 0.3% THC are legal
|Shows up on a drugs test?||
Could show up if:
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the main compounds in Cannabis sativa plants like hemp and marijuana.
(Psst… did you know that hemp and marijuana aren’t the same? Learn how they differ!)
CBD is usually extracted from hemp plants since hemp is high in CBD and low in THC.
First discovered in 1940, CBD is increasingly popular for its therapeutic effects, including stress and pain relief. (More on this later.)
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the other primary cannabinoid in Cannabis sativa.
It’s extracted from marijuana plants since they have high THC and low CBD content.
THC was first discovered in 1964 and is best known for producing the “high” effect.
THC and CBD have the same chemical atoms:
- 21 carbon atoms,
- 30 hydrogen atoms,
- 2 oxygen atoms.
However, the atomic arrangement differs in THC and CBD, giving them different properties.
CBD and THC have a similar chemical structure to your body’s natural endocannabinoids!
They can bind to your endocannabinoid system (ECS) and stimulate your brain’s neurotransmitters. This allows them to influence your mood, sleep, memory, pain, and stress levels.
Side Note: The endocannabinoid system regulates your body’s immune responses, appetite, sleep, pain control, and other vital functions.
According to the World Health Organization, any substance that impacts your mental functions or affects your mood, thoughts, feelings, awareness, or behaviour has a psychoactive effect.
Both CBD and THC have certain psychoactive properties.
A. Effects of THC
Only THC results in the so-called ‘high’ effect.
According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC binds with your brain’s CB1 receptor and CB2 receptor, triggering dopamine release.
You may feel anything from euphoria to paranoia (AKA stoned)!
B. Effects of CBD
CBD doesn’t have any intoxicating effect.
Instead, it improves your well-being, making you feel balanced and grounded.
CBD doesn’t bind to your CB1 receptor and CB2 receptor in the same way as THC. It has much weaker binding properties if taken on its own.
The health benefits of CBD and THC are still undergoing research.
But preliminary evidence shows they help with various symptoms and conditions.
A. Benefits of THC
- Insomnia: According to the US National Institute of Health, THC can help you fall asleep as it naturally induces drowsiness.
- Nerve pain: THC may relieve nerve pain, weakening the brain connections that process sensory signals.
- Nausea: Some animal and human studies show that the Delta 9 THC cannabinoid helps suppress nausea symptoms.
- Muscle spasticity: THC can treat muscle spasms (especially common in people with multiple sclerosis).
- Low appetite: THC products stimulate hunger and can be used to treat low appetite.
- Glaucoma: THC may reduce intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma.
- Anxiety: CBD can relieve anxiety symptoms like increased heart rate and stress.
- Sleep: CBD may improve sleep quality thanks to its anxiety and stress relief abilities.
- Pain relief: CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve inflammation (like joint inflammation) and chronic pain.
- Migraines: CBD could ease the pain depending on the migraine’s nature and symptoms. However, more research is needed to understand the correlation.
CBD (pure CBD extract, broad spectrum, and full spectrum CBD) can also:
- Improve overall wellness and mental health
- Treat epilepsy seizures (Dravet syndrome), PTSD, and depression.
Difference #5: Potential Side Effects
Usually, CBD and THC interact positively with your body.
But you may experience side effects at extremely high doses.
A. Side Effects of THC
THC could cause:
- Memory loss
- Slower reactions
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Increased heart rate
According to the World Health Organization, CBD is generally a safe substance.
However, at very high doses (more than 100mg per day), CBD could cause:
- Weight loss
- Low blood pressure
Important: Consult your doctor before taking CBD or THC, especially if you’re on other medications.
1. In the UK
The UK legalised CBD in 2018.
In contrast, THC is considered illegal in the country.
But doctors could prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients as part of their treatment.
|Read More: Dive into the UK’s CBD law in our detailed guide.|
2. In the US
The US also legalised CBD in 2018.
But the federal law categorizes CBD as a Schedule I Drug (drugs with no currently accepted medical use).
Plus, all CBD products in the US are legally allowed to have up to 0.3% THC content.
However, THC and marijuana are included in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and are considered illegal.
Since THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, most drug tests detect it.
CBD may also be detected if you use:
- CBD-sensitive tests
- A CBD product with trace amounts of THC
Important: Some THC-free CBD products are mislabeled (claiming to be THC-free but containing trace amounts). In this case, you could still test positive.
|Read More: Discover how long CBD stays in your system and what factors affect this.|
Some commonly asked questions are:
1. Can you combine CBD and THC?
THC and CBD occur together in Cannabis sativa plants.
You can combine them if:
- your country/state legalises THC administration.
- a doctor prescribes medical cannabis (medical marijuana).
When combined, the two compounds lead to the entourage effect.
Different cannabinoid compounds (CBD, terpenes, THC, and other cannabinoids) act synergetically in your body.
They bind better with your body’s CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptor systems to produce a greater effect.
2. Is it possible to distinguish CBD from THC?
Yes, but only through a lab analysis (not by smell or looks).
High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Gas Chromatography (GC) are two popular tests for this purpose.
3. What is the difference between CBD oil, cannabis oil, and hemp oil?
Here’s how they differ:
- CBD oil: CBD oil is made from hemp flower buds, stalks, and leaves. Pure CBD (CBD isolate) and broad spectrum CBD oils are legal food supplements in the UK.
We recommend: Love Hemp 1200mg Orange CBD Oil (£49.99)!
Made from top-quality ingredients, it’s a high-strength CBD oil with a pleasant zesty citrus taste. Perfect if you don’t like the bitter hempy taste of most oils!
- Hemp oil: Hemp oil is made from hemp plant seeds and DOESN’T contain THC or CBD. Hemp seed oils are legal in the UK.
- Cannabis oil: Cannabis oil is made from the cannabis flower, leaves, and stems of the plant. These cannabis preparations usually lead to products with high THC levels.
Remember: the use of cannabis oil is illegal in the UK.
“Cannabis” refers to the whole plant family.
Under it, you have different strains like Indica and Sativa, which usually differ based on their CBD and THC ratio.
Hemp generally refers to the cannabis plant with high CBD and low THC content. The hemp plant is also used in manufacturing (for producing paper, clothes, fuel, rope, etc.)
Marijuana refers to all cannabis plants with lower CBD and higher THC ratio.
CBD: A Natural Supplement for Better Health & Wellness!
CBD and THC offer various health benefits when taken according to your doctor’s advice.
THC can give you a psychoactive ‘high’.
It’s also illegal in most countries, including the UK.
At GreenBox, we only offer top-notch, THC-free CBD products. From CBD gummies and capsules to oils and topicals, shop for the best CBD products worry-free!