CBD vs. THC: The Differences

The chemical differences between CBD and THC and how to choose which one is best for your medical needs.

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Two of the most common words in any discussion, in which anxiety and depression or any condition managed using medical marijuana is concerned, are THC and CBD. Many potential marijuana users are always looking for the best CBD oil or THC concentrate, among others.

THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, while CBD stands for cannabidiol. These two are the best-known cannabinoids found in marijuana. In this article, we shall look at the two cannabinoids in detail so that you will understand them the next time you see them.

CBD vs. THC: Chemical structure

Both CBD and THC have the same basic chemical structure. They are both comprised of 21 atoms of carbon, 30 atoms of hydrogen and two atoms of oxygen. The difference between CBD and THC is how the atoms are arranged.

This difference in the arrangement of the atoms is minimal, but it informs how CBD and THC connect with the endocannabinoid system and, thus, how they affect your body. Below is a diagram of the arrangement of CBD and THC atoms.

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CBD vs. THC: What Can Get You high?

THC gets you high. As earlier observed, the two cannabinoids have different effects on the body. THC is the one with mind-altering effects on the user. The effects of CBD are different. It doesn’t cause euphoria, but it may cause the user’s body to relax.

Some people refer to the relaxation caused by CBD as a ‘body high’ as opposed to the ‘mind high’ caused by THC. So between the two cannabinoids, it is THC that can make you high in the conventional sense of the word. But how much THC can get you high? The answer to this question depends on the individual.

THC vs. CBD: Medical Benefits

Currently, CBD is categorized as a nutritional supplement because it’s not approved as a drug by the FDA.

The FDA has, however, approved a CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, for the treatment of seizures in children with drug-resistant strains of epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome.

At the moment, many research projects are going on to establish the extent of CBD and THC’s medical benefits to users.

As a supplement, people use CBD for numerous reasons, such as reduction of anxiety and management of depression, insomnia, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and autism, among others.

THC, on the other hand, is often used as an antiemetic, which reduces nausea and vomiting.

It is also used as a bronchodilator to help dilate the airways of people with asthma and helps with tremors, like those caused by Parkinson’s disease, along with the management of chronic pain.

CBD vs. THC: Side Effects

Most people have a high tolerance for CBD. Instances of intolerance are usually few and far between, and they are typically caused by its interaction with certain drugs.

It is, therefore, vital for you to consult with your doctor to see how CBD would interact with your prescription medicine.

THC, side effects are the ones that are most commonly associated with marijuana. The side effects include bloodshot eyes, memory loss, poor coordination, nausea and many others.

The above mentioned side effects are short term in adults. When used by teenagers, however, THC may cause long term damage to the brain. It is for this reason that teenagers shouldn’t use marijuana.

THC vs. CBD: What Is legal?

Both THC and CBD are legal in some places because different jurisdictions have different laws.

At the federal level, it is legal to grow industrial hemp if it has less than 0.3% THC. This means that even products extracted from such hemp are legal.

High THC strains of hemp, on the other hand, are not yet legal at the federal level. In some states, recreational marijuana, which usually refers to marijuana with high THC content, is permitted. Where medical marijuana is legal, high THC products may be part of what is allowed.

Notwithstanding all the other details, CBD, for being non-psychoactive, is more widely accepted in more jurisdictions than THC.

Does CBD Oil Have THC?

CBD oil usually contains a certain measure of THC. Most CBD oils are typically full-spectrum hemp extracts, and even the industrial hemp that is legal in the United States is allowed to contain up to 0.3% THC. The oil that comes from such a plant will have a certain amount of THC.

If the CBD oil is extracted from marijuana, the level of THC will be much higher, probably up to 12%.

With this information, you should be aware that even if you are using CBD oil that has been extracted from low-THC industrial hemp, your product will have trace amounts of THC.

If you, therefore, take large amounts of CBD within a short time, you could return a false positive if you undergo a drug test soon after.


Both CBD and THC have health benefits for users, but they can only be used as supplements. You should be careful to find out how the cannabinoid you seek interacts with any of the drugs you may be using. This is why the decision to use medical marijuana should be made alongside your doctor.

The doctor should also monitor your progress until you have found which dosage works for you.

The other important takeaway is that teenagers should avoid the use of THC, and children should not use it. This is because THC appears to have permanent adverse effects on growing brains.

CBD vs. THC: The Differences