With the growth of the CBD industry and Marijuana industry, you will be surprised there is a difference between THC and CBD. You just have to know how to spot the difference between the two.

In this post, we will break down the differences between THC and CBD so you can have a better understanding of what makes these two compounds unique in their own right.

the difference between thc and cbd

What Exactly is THC?

THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the known chemical compound in cannabis that is responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. Similar to CBD, THC attaches to the receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, activating them to reveal certain effects such as calmness, relaxation, pain relief, and nausea relief.

THC is one of the compounds located in marijuana resin, which is secreted directly from the marijuana plant. However, THC is not the only compound found in this resin.


What Exactly is CBD?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that also derives from the cannabis plant. Similar to THC, this naturally occurring chemical can also be found in the resin secretion of the marijuana plant. However, unlike THC, CBD is known for having no psychoactive effects.


CBD vs. THC: What About Terpenes?

One important difference to note between these two compounds is the lack of or benefit of terpenes within each. CBD is synonymous with terpenes, although most of the terpenes are lost during the extraction process. THC is not known to have any terpenes but is considered a terpene itself.

Learn more about the importance of terpenes here.


THC vs. CBD: Chemical Structures

Another similarity between THC and CBD is they both share the exact chemical formula:

  • 21 atoms of carbon
  • 30 atoms of hydrogen
  • 2 atoms of Oxygen

So, what is the difference between the two?

The main difference is in how the atoms are rearranged and how both compounds affect the body.



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What is the Difference Between THC and CBD?

1. Psychoactive Effects

Despite the similarity of these two chemical compounds being considered cannabinoids, both compounds react differently in a person’s body. The main difference is the psychoactive effect on the body. THC is known for its psychoactive effects while CBD is known for not being psychoactive. However, it is important to note CBD is known to have a minimal percent of THC within it.

What does this mean?

It means while a person will not necessarily get high off of CBD, they will still be able to experience other effects associated with THC such as pain relief or anxiety relief.

2. Legality

Another key difference between THC and CBD is its legality within the United States. This can be a complicated issue as legality for both varies from state to state. As of writing this post, marijuana is currently fully legal in only 11 states:

  • California
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Nevada
  • Michigan
  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • Maine

What does this mean?

It means that the main psychoactive component of cannabis, THC is legal in these states. In other states, THC may be permitted in the use of CBD oil or for medicinal use only. It is mostly illegal in the remaining states.

On the other hand, CBD, as long as it doesn’t contain THC and is derived from the hemp plant, is considered legal on a national level due to the passing of the 2018 Farm Act, which legalized farming from hemp as long as products deriving from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC.

is cbd legal

3. How it Affects the Body

The endocannabinoid system is made up of different receptors, however, the most common receptors utilized by these compounds are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Another key difference between THC and CBD is how both affect these receptors.

THC is known for binding to the CB1 receptor due to its chemical structure. When THC binds to this receptor, the very reaction creates signals that are directed to the brain, resulting in the psychoactive effects people associate with marijuana use.

On the other hand, CBD does not bind to the CB1 receptor. Instead just existing in the body can negate the effect of THC on the receptor, which can, in turn, neutralize the psychoactive effects.

4. Potential Benefits

While THC and CBD can help treat similar ailments by alleviating symptoms, there are some differences when using either compound.

THC is known for helping to alleviate symptoms associated with:

  • Some cancers
  • Reduced appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle spasms
  • Mild to moderate anxiety
  • Nausea

CBD is known for helping to alleviate symptoms associated with:

  • IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Mild depression
  • Seizures
  • Mild to moderate mental disorders
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Lack of energy
  • Anxiety


5. Their Sources

Another difference between CBD and THC the plant sources they derive from. THC tends to only come from the cannabis plant. However, CBD can come from both the cannabis or the hemp plant. How much THC is found in CBD depends on the source and how much THC is left within the formula.


6. Potential Side Effects

The last difference between these two chemical compounds is their potential side effects, although there are few side effects associated with them.

According to this report by the World Health Organization, CBD doesn’t have any known side effects. In fact, WHO reported CBD to be safe in large quantities. The only side effects the organization was able to find were possible interactions with prescription medications.

THC though, has a few known side effects, albeit most of these are temporary in effect. Some of the most common side effects of THC include:

  • Cotton mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Slower responses
  • Temporary memory loss
  • Lack of coordination
  • Fast heart rate



The Difference Between THC and CBD: The Bottomline

While there may be a difference between THC and CBD, the two are not as different as many people think. Both compounds derive from cannabis and can help treat a variety of ailments. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the differences between the two to better understand how it can affect you on a legal level as well as how either compound can potentially benefit you.


What is Terpenes4health and Why Does it Matter to THC and CBD?

Terpenes4health logo

Terpenes4health is a product consisting of isolated terpenes. Regardless if you use THC or CBD, isolated terpenes can help to enhance the benefits from either compound, to help you feel relief faster than if you took either alone. Terpenes4health is available in three separate formulas: Ultra Relief, Ultra Relax, and Ultra Revive, all made using 100% organic terpenes from organic plant sources free of THC.

To learn more about Terpenes4health and to learn how you can get a discount on one of our formulas, click here!


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Cadena, A. (2019, March 19). CBD vs THC: The Difference Explained. Retrieved October 27, 2019, from https://medium.com/cbd-origin/cbd-vs-thc-the-difference-explained-b3cfc1da52f0.

CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference? (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/cbd-thc-difference#1.

Felton, K., & Felton, K. (2019, February 14). Every Question You Have About CBD-Answered. Retrieved October 27, 2019, from https://www.health.com/pain/what-is-cbd.

Fletcher, J. (2019, July 26). CBD vs. THC: Differences, benefits, and effects. Retrieved October 27, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325871.php#differences.

Holland, K. (2019, August 20). What’s the Difference Between CBD and THC? Retrieved October 27, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-vs-thc.

Martin, L. J. (2019, August 8). CBD vs. THC: Properties, Benefits, Risks, & Legality. Retrieved October 27, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/cbd-thc-difference#1.

Sung, M. (2019, March 24). Here’s the difference between CBD and THC. Retrieved October 27, 2019, from https://mashable.com/article/difference-between-cbd-thc-marijuana-weed/.

World Health Organization. (2017). Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report. (Report Number: 5.2)

Retrieved from https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf

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