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What’s the Difference Between THC & CBD?


What’s the Difference Between THC & CBD?

The best part about cannabis is, of course, the cannabinoids! So what’s the difference between THC and CBD? Keep reading to find out how these natural compounds work together and what sets them apart.

The marijuana plant is full of cannabinoids, but the two most sought after are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both THC and CBD are highly coveted for their unique effects and array of medical benefits.

Image result for cannabis plant

(Jonathan Hayward – The Canadian Press)

While most people know that these cannabinoids are both derived from cannabis, not many know what really sets these two chemicals apart.  THC is psychoactive (meaning it gets you high) while CBD is non-psychoactive — but that’s just one of the many differences between these two incredible compounds. 

Chemical Structure

Genetically, THC and CBD are both composed of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. These atoms are arranged in different patterns, and that is why the otherwise identical compounds interact differently with the brain.


THC and CBD enter our bodies through our endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS is a network of cannabinoid receptors throughout our body; the two cannabinoid receptors are named CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain, while CB2 receptors are typically found throughout the immune system. This means that CB1 receptors interact with your memory, emotions, motor skills, and cognition while CB2 receptors affect things like appetite and inflammation. When THC and CBD interact with these two receptors in the body, users can experience the full effects.

Functions & Effects

THC and CBD interact with the brain’s CB1 receptors in completely different ways. THC binds directly to the CB1 receptors and gives your brain and body a euphoric feeling. CBD, however, does the opposite. Rather than binding directly with the CB1 receptor, CBD instead indirectly activates the TRPV1 receptors. As a result, instead of feeling high, CBD can actually negate the psychoactive effects of THC in your system.

Image result for weed brain

(Seeker – Youtube)

(Quick Tip: If you’re ever feeling too high to function, CBD oil could bring you back down to Earth)

Since CBD is a bit of a buzz killer, High-CBD marijuana strains generally leave you feeling clear-headed and functional. If you need to medicate throughout the day due to a medical condition and don’t want the heavy sensations and impairment of THC, then CBD would work best for you. 

Health Benefits

Medical marijuana is extremely valuable to a wide range of individuals living with chronic illnesses and serious health conditions. While THC and CBD function differently, they actually both provide similar health benefits.

Image result for medical marijuana

Both THC and CBD can be used to treat:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

And that’s not all! Medical marijuana research has been restricted by laws in the past, but with legalization sweeping the globe, more studies are taking place. Undoubtedly, there are more health benefits from cannabis to discover.


Marijuana and THC are still federally illegal in the United States. However, it is becoming increasingly legal both medically and recreationally at the state level with every election.

The NYC Cannabis Parade and Rally on May 5, 2015.

(Getty Images)

Even though CBD is non-psychoactive, its legal status is also in flux and controlled by the state government. The only exception to this is CBD oil produced from hemp plants rather than marijuana plants. Since hemp plants produce almost no THC, the products extracted from them are guaranteed to be THC-free. CBD oil derived from hemp plants is often referred to as hemp oil and is legal in all 50 states. That being said, it is a lot less potent than CBD extracted from marijuana plants.

THC or CBD: Who Wins?

You do! THC and CBD have both helped countless medical patients throughout the world get the relief that they need. What’s the difference between THC and CBD? THC is typically used for the express purpose of getting high; CBD is generally used for medical purposes only. Both cannabinoids function differently inside the brain, but they both they can still heal the mind and body in similar ways. These two compounds are invaluable to the health, wellness, and happiness of people everywhere, and should be celebrated.


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