The cannabis family tree has many branches and it can be hard to keep them all straight. What is the difference between marijuana and hemp plants? And what about CBD and THC, are they the same thing?
It is easy to get confused about the details. But don’t worry, because we can help clear up the confusion.
Keep reading to learn the difference between CBD vs THC.
What Is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the most prevalent chemical compound in cannabis. It binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and causes intoxicating, psychoactive effects. It is present in large concentrations in marijuana.
THC is a controversial chemical compound. It has shown potential for helping people with a variety of different conditions. But it also comes with the risk of some substantial unwanted side effects.
Some of the beneficial therapeutic effects people commonly report taking THC for include: Pain, Muscle spasticity, Glaucoma, Insomnia, Low appetite, Nausea, and Anxiety.
Some of the most well-known negative side effects that can result from THC consumption include: Increased heart rate, Coordination problems, Dry mouth, Red eyes, Slow reaction times, Memory loss, and Anxiety.
What Is CBD?
Cannabinol or CBD is the second most prevalent compound in cannabis. This compound is far more concentrated in hemp than it is in marijuana.
CBD has no intoxicating side effects. This is one of the most important differences between THC and CBD.
It may be considered a type of psychoactive as studies have shown that it can help with anxiety, depression, and seizures. But it is not comparable to THC as it will not cause any impairment.
It has been studied extensively in recent years, and studies continue to uncover new information about this compound. It is well-tolerated and has few side effects.
There are a number of reported therapeutic benefits of CBD. It offers support for almost all of the same things THC may be able to help with. Yet it comes with no intoxicating side effects.
This helps make CBD a promising option for people dealing with moderate to severe symptoms they want help with. A retrospective observational study in Canada found that CBD had a positive impact on pain, anxiety, and depression symptoms as well as overall wellbeing for study participants with moderate to severe symptoms.
Other studies have also shown that taking CBD may help with reducing anxiety and depression. As well as help people fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. And many studies have shown that CBD may help reduce inflammation in the body triggering a number of positive outcomes.
After CBD products became legal throughout the U.S. witht the 2018 Farm Bill, interest in CBD products skyrocketed. And it continues to rise as more of the potential benefits of CBD are uncovered.
But it is important to note that the CBD industry is still largely unregulated. Over-the-counter CBD products may contain different amounts of CBD or THC than what is stated on the label. In fact, many CBD products contain more THC than they state. For all our Yummy CBD products, we post purity and potency reports from third-party lab tests to ensure our customers that our products contained what they list on their label.
Only one CBD drug has been approved by the FDA. In 2018 it was approved for the treatment of rare epilepsy conditions. But there are many anecdotal reports of CBD helping with a variety of conditions.
CBD is thought to help with the following situations: Seizures, Inflammation, Pain, Psychosis, IBS, Nausea, Migraine, Depression, and Anxiety.
CBD is well tolerated and has few side effects. But that doesn’t mean they can’t happen. The side effects that are most often experienced with CBD are: Appetite changes, Fatigue, Weight loss, Dizziness, and Diarrhea
If you experience any of these types of symptoms after taking CBD, you may want to speak with your doctor. Everyone handles CBD differently, and they may be able to help you find a product or dosage that works best for you, without the side effects.
Chemical Composition of THC and CBD
Both CBD and THC have the same molecular structure, but they are arranged in their own way.
They both contain: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.
They also have almost the exact same atomic mass. But the two compounds are structured differently enough to end up having completely different pharmacological properties.
Both of these compounds have low solubility in water. But they have good solubility in lipids and alcohols.
One thing THC is known for that CBD is not is its ability to bind to glass and plastic. THC products are commonly stored in silicate glassware to try to avoid loss. This is not a concern with CBD products.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the system in the body that maintains homeostasis. It is comprised of receptors in your brain and body that send messages back and forth to each other.
To maintain homeostasis, it is responsible for maintaining some of the most important bodily functions like sleep, appetite, mood, pain perception, body temperature, and more.
When outside stressors affect the body, the ECS responds to make you feel balanced again. For example, if you have used up too much energy, your ECS might respond by making you feel tired. This way you will go to sleep and get the rest you need.
Cannabinoids are made naturally by the body to work inside this system. Phytocannabinoids (which are made by plants) can also interact within this system. That is why THC and CBD have the effects that they have on the human body.
THC binds directly to the CB1 receptors. This is why its effects can be intense.
CBD does not bind directly to the receptors though. Instead, it interacts with them in different ways. And, it can block other phytocannabinoids from binding to them. This is why CBD is thought to counteract the effects of THC. And it can lessen the chance of paranoia or anxiety when consuming THC.
CBD vs THC and the Law
At the time of writing, cannabis is still federally illegal, although cannabis laws are rapidly changing. This means marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug and illegal throughout the country.
However, the Farm Bill reclassified hemp in 2018. Now it is legal to cultivate and process as long as it is grown with less than .3% of THC.
33 states and Washington DC have launched a medical marijuana program making access to cannabis products an option for qualifying patients who live in these states. A handful of these states allow recreational marijuana use for adults as well.
This means their residents can enjoy some level of protection when it comes to cannabis use. Small amounts of cannabis are legal for personal consumption. Even cannabis products with THC.
But if you live outside of one of these states, then the only legal option you have is CBD. There are still states that have heavy criminal penalties and fines for trying products with more than .3% THC in them.
Will CBD and THC Show Up on a Drug Test?
Cannabinoids get stored in the fatty tissues of the body, so they stick around for some time. They can show up in a drug test for weeks after you last consumed them.
Most standard drug tests only look for detectable levels of THC metabolites. This is how they indicate cannabis use. But they can’t provide any insight into how much THC was consumed or what the intoxication level was.
CBD is not a substance that typical drug tests screen for. There are tests that may be sensitive to CBD, but this is not common.
Keep in mind that if you take a CBD product that contains full spectrum extract then it will contain trace amounts of THC. If you take enough of the CBD, you could consume enough THC as well to reach detectable levels in your bloodstream.
This can cause a drug screening to test positive for cannabis. There are no distinctions between a person who tests positive due to CBD consumption compared to someone who tests positive due to cannabis use.
Do All CBD Products Have THC?
No, not all CBD products contain THC.
Some CBD products are made from CBD isolate. This is pure CBD with no other cannabinoids or impurities. Everything gets filtered out including the THC. CBD isolate is great for mixing into edibles or creating your own oils or capsules at home. It is easy to dose as it is a direct measurement with no other cannabinoids to account for.
Broad spectrum CBD oil allows the other cannabinoids and terpenes to stay in the extract but has all of the THC removed. Leaving all of the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant materials allows the CBD extract to have more therapeutic potential.
This is explained by the entourage effect, which suggests that whole plant remedies may be more effective due to the synergistic effects of all of the cannabinoids working together. These two types of the extract are the best option for those who do not want to consume any amount of THC.
Full spectrum CBD extract allows a natural blend of all the compounds in hemp to be present in the final product. This allows for the strongest possible entourage effect. Many people prefer full spectrum products as they report more powerful effects. Although this is strictly anecdotal. Studies are still researching the entourage effect and if it works like expected.
Main Differences Between THC and CBD
There are many similarities between THC and CBD, but there are some striking differences. They are what makes the two compounds have such dramatically different effects.
To start, THC is psychoactive and it most definitely causes intoxication. CBD is not considered to be psychoactive and it will not get you high. Instead, CBD helps to calm the mind and body.
CBD and THC are also arranged in different ways.
THC binds directly to the CB1 receptors in the brain and causes strong effects. Too much THC can overstimulate these receptors and cause anxiety and paranoia.
Whereas CBD does not bind to these receptors and it prevents them from binding so easily with THC. In this way, it is able to help soothe overstimulation and reduce anxiety and paranoia related to THC consumption.
Both are considered to be generally well-tolerated, but THC has the potential for more negative side effects. In addition to most of the side effects associated with CBD, THC also is known to cause things like memory loss, anxiety, and increased heart rate.
There are usually no concerns with taking CBD unless you suffer from macular degeneration or are taking certain medications like blood thinners. Although it is always the safest idea to get clear from your doctor before trying any new supplements.
As this writing, THC is still illegal at the federal level in the United States. Although some states have set their own cannabis laws and allow recreational adult marijuana use, currently it is against federal law to buy and sell cannabis. But CBD is derived from hemp. As long as the manufacturing processes respect the regulations, CBD products are legal in all 50 states.
How to Find CBD or THC Products
To find products that contain CBD or THC, you can start by looking at the label. Most products provide the amount of CBD or THC in a product right on the packaging.
If you can’t find the information on the label of the product, try to find a certificate of analysis (CoA). This is a lab test report that covers the cannabinoid content and the purity of the product sample.
Lots of companies just pay to have a potency test completed. This is the test that verifies the cannabinoid content. There is a one-page report that will list the amount of CBD detected, THC detected, and if there were any other compounds detected.
Some companies provide lab test results for potency and purity. This means they also have their products tested for contaminants like heavy metals, residual solvents, molds, and mildews. This helps ensure that products are safe for consumers to take.
Reading the CoA is the safest way to find the best CBD or THC products. You can also read some customer reviews and check out our CBD buyers guide to learn more tips about finding the absolute best product for you.