The Differences Between CBD and THC 🕵🏻

Cannabis plants have over 113 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Of these, the two you’ve most likely heard of are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). While it’s easy to want to lump all these compounds together as just being parts of the same plant, the truth is there are a number of important differences between CBD and THC.

From where they’re legal to how they interact with your body, let’s talk about these compounds and what they do.

What Is CBD?

Even though CBD is an essential part of medical marijuana, it’s derived directly from the hemp plant, a sort of cousin to the marijuana plant. Both plants are from the same species, but only CBD products derived from hemp plants are federally legal at the moment and may only contain 0.3% or less of THC.

So what is CBD? CBD, or cannabidiol, was discovered in the 1940s and is the second most prevalent chemical compound found in cannabis. Just like THC, CBD is absorbed by the body through cannabis-friendly receptors called the endocannabinoid system. This system contributes to all kinds of functions from your sleep cycle to your immune system and even reproductive health. Unlike THC, however, CBD is not psychoactive.

The benefits of CBD that you might experience vary from person to person. Since everyone’s body is different, it’s important to recognize that it could take time and adjustment to different products to see what works best for you. There is a wide range of CBD products available ranging from CBD oils to CBD creams to bath bombs that can make your bath rituals extra special.

What Is THC?

CBD sounds great, but then what is THC? THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (we’ll stick to calling it THC, thanks 👏), is the main star of the marijuana world. It’s the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis and has been suggested for potential both recreational and medicinal properties for thousands of years.

The intensity of the effects of THC may be influenced by the entourage effect. The entourage effect is a theory suggesting that different cannabis compounds work together to create unique effects and benefits at various levels.

THC is often ingested by smoking or vaping marijuana but can also be found in products like edibles, capsules, and oils.

What Are the Differences Between CBD and THC?

Okay so now we know what they are, so what are the differences between CBD and THC? It’s the differences between these two compounds that affect how they’re used, where they’re detectable, and how they interact with your body.

Some of the differences between CBD and THC include:

  • How and where CBD and THC are legal
  • If CBD or THC will show up on a drug test
  • The molecular structure of CBD and THC
  • Psychoactive effects of CBD vs THC
  • Common uses for CBD vs THC

How and Where CBD and THC Are Legal

We can’t kick off discussing the differences between CBD and THC without talking about how and where they’re legal. At this time, CBD products are federally legal when they’re derived directly from the hemp plant and contain 0.3% or less of THC. Laws vary by state, however, so be sure to check with local state laws before purchasing or traveling with CBD.

Legal THC is most closely tied to marijuana legalization. While laws continue to change and evolve around it, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult use of marijuana for recreational purposes while 37 states, 3 territories and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of cannabis products.

As you explore CBD products, you will see both broad spectrum and full spectrum products available. Broad spectrum CBD vs full spectrum CBD simply refers to CBD with THC vs without. Broad spectrum products are completely THC-free, while full spectrum may contain up to the federal maximum 0.3% THC.

Note: The laws for CBD products can vary by type of product, as well. While many states allow both broad and full spectrum CBD products, others are more restrictive on CBD with THC vs without. 

CBD vs THC: Will They Show Up on a Drug Test?

Next on our list of the differences between CBD and THC is if they may show up on a drug test. If you’re using THC products (marijuana products), drug tests can detect THC in urine, blood, and hair for many days after use. But what about CBD?

Broad spectrum CBD alone will not show up on a drug test since most are designed to detect THC breakdowns. Broad spectrum products entirely remove THC during the extraction process. With that in mind, it’s important to note that some CBD products, like our full spectrum CBD tincture, may contain trace amounts of THC (>0.3%) as permitted by law.

We recommend using full spectrum CBD products at your own risk if you take drug tests regularly. While it may not typically show up, this will depend on how frequently you use it and the dosage being consumed.

Molecular Structure Differences Between CBD and THC

Beyond where they’re legal and how they might show up on drug tests, CBD and THC also have molecular differences that affect how they interact with your body. While both have chemical structures that are similar to the body's natural endocannabinoids, they differ in how they bind to different receptors to stimulate the release of neurotransmitters.

In fact, some studies suggest that CBD may actually lessen the effects of THC on the brain.

Common Uses for CBD and THC

Last (but definitely not least!) when it comes to the differences between CBD and THC is what they’re commonly used for. While research is ongoing to determine the potential benefits of CBD and THC, there are a variety of different reasons people use each of them.

Some of the most common health issues people look to the potential benefits of CBD for include:

  • Helping to manage stress and anxiety
  • Supporting pain relief
  • Potentially treating neurological disorders
  • Helping to reduce depression symptoms
  • Helping with acne and other inflammatory skin issues
  • Potential of slowing or preventing cognitive decline from diseases like Alzheimer’s

While there are some instances of overlap in how people use CBD and THC, the latter is also sometimes considered for possible treatment of health conditions like:

  • Pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and poor appetite caused by cancer treatment
  • Tremors

Before choosing either, consider the differences between CBD and THC and what effects you’re hoping to achieve. Depending on your location and local laws, CBD is most often easier to integrate into your daily rituals and popular due to its lack of psychoactive properties. This leaves you mentally clear and ready to take on the day!

We hope this guide to the differences between CBD and THC has been informative and given you things to consider. When it comes to CBD products vs THC, each person will react differently, so taking the time to try different products, dosages, and ingestion methods to determine what works best for you (and follows your local laws) is best to support your lifestyle.

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