Thanks to its legal status and ready availability, forecasters predict the $2.8 billion CBD industry will undergo a 21% CAGR until 2028. 

On the other hand, another compound found in the cannabis plant, THC, remains steadfastly illegal. Does this seem strange to you?

Keep reading to find out more about the difference between THC and CBD and why they’re treated so differently in the eyes of the law. 

About CBD and THC

CBD and THC are among the hundreds of cannabinoids found in the plant, Cannabis Sativa. This ancient species also goes by the names marijuana and hemp, and it’s an important component in many industries.

These include:

  • Textiles
  • Construction
  • Agriculture (animal feed)
  • Paint
  • Food
  • Medical

Since it first came to mankind’s attention 12,000 years ago, farmers and botanists have refined this plant via inbreeding to ensure it’s best suited for their needs.

During the 1960s, a new use for the cannabis plant came to the fore, namely recreational. At this time, enthusiasts discovered the mind-altering effects of smoking parts of this plant. 

However, this outcome only seemed to occur with certain varieties of cannabis. Nonetheless, the federal government banned the use of marijuana products outright in 1970.

Turns out the difference lies in how much THC vs CBD each strain contains.

How Do Cannabinoids Work?

All cannabinoids interact with the human endocannabinoid system, which comprises a range of enzymes, endocannabinoids, and cannabinoid receptors.

These elements work together to regulate various functions in the body, like:

  • Immune response
  • Energy balance
  • Blood pressure
  • Pain response
  • Nausea
  • Embryonic development
  • Appetite
  • Learning and memory

Our bodies produce endocannabinoids naturally. These work like neurotransmitters to send chemical messages by attaching to strategically-placed cannabinoid receptors.

In this way, the EC keeps all the above elements on an even keel.

Human cannabinoid receptors are also open to communicating with plant-based cannabinoids found in food and medication. Other plants, like black pepper, cloves, broccoli, Echinacea, carrots, and ginseng, also have cannabinoids. 

Different cannabinoids interact with specific cannabinoid receptors to produce various effects on the human body.

Chemical Difference Between THC and CBD

Chemically, both THC and CBD have many similarities with endocannabinoids. That means our cannabinoid receptors bind easily with these two substances.

THC and CBD have an identical molecular structure comprising 2 oxygen atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 21 carbon atoms. Yet, a slight difference in their molecular arrangements impacts how they interact with the EC.

THC forms a strong attachment with the brain’s CB1 receptors, resulting in a sense of euphoria. CBD forms only a weak attachment with these receptors, so it only has a mild sedative effect.

Another form of THC, namely Delta-8 THC, has a slight differentiation in the arrangement of two carbon atoms. Due to this slight deviation, it’s also less psychoactive than the original.

However, it still has many of the purported benefits of THC. 

Medicinal Uses of THC and CBD

From the above, it’s easy to see how both THC and CBD can affect our health and well-being. Cannabis enthusiasts insist that these cannabinoids help with a wide range of ailments and conditions.  

What Is THC Used For?

Despite its psychoactive qualities, THC’s also implicated in providing relief for certain health problems. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Nausea
  • Low appetite

It’s important to note that the FDA does not recommend using THC for any medicinal uses due to its psychoactive nature. 

What is CBD Good For?

CBD has its fans too. With anecdotal evidence supporting this cannabinoid in the treatment of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Migraine
  • Inflammation
  • Seizures
  • Pain
  • Mental disorders and psychosis
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Nausea

There’s ongoing research surrounding the therapeutic benefits of CBD, but it’s only approved for use in one epilepsy medication at present. 

How Do You Take THC and CBD?

Most people consume THC by smoking parts of the marijuana plant using a bong, pipe, or hand-rolled cigarette called a joint. There are other ways to ingest this cannabinoid though. 

You can make cannabutter by mixing decarboxylated cannabis with melted butter. You can use this butter to create marijuana edibles like cookies and other baked goods. Other ways to ingest marijuana, include:

  • Pills, capsules, and tablets
  • Powder
  • Vapes
  • Tinctures
  • Topicals
  • Transdermal patches

You’ll need a prescription for most of these processed forms of THC. You can buy them from licensed marijuana dispensaries in states that allow the use of medical marijuana.

Since CBD supplements have no legal barriers, they’re easier to get hold of. You can enjoy CBD in various forms too:


It’s easy to take CBD oil by dropping it under your tongue or adding a few drops to a glass of water. You also get soluble capsules filled with CBD oil for easy consumption.

For more info, check out this read on CBD oil usage

Gummies and Edibles

Like THC, you can get CBD in a wide range of edibles. Lemon CBD gummy is among the most popular. 

When you take gummies, it’s easy to adjust your dosage by halving the gummy, and you can choose from a wide range of popular flavors, too. 


You take CBD tinctures in much the same way as oils, with a dropper or a glass of water. Tinctures comprise CBD dissolved in an alcoholic base. 

Topical CBD

CBD-infused lotions and balms can help ease pain and relieve skin conditions. You can also rub CBD oil on the affected area if preferred. 

Types of CBD

There are three main types of CBD available. These are:

CBD Isolate

This pure form of CBD comes from specially-bred hemp plants and contains no THC. You can pass a drug test when you take this type of CBD, and there’s no risk of developing any psychoactive reaction.

Broad Spectrum CBD

These CBD products contain almost all the compounds found in the cannabis plant, except THC. You’re safe when taking these products, too.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD is like broad-spectrum CBD, but it contains a small amount of THC. Legally, this must comprise less than 0.3%

When you take cannabinoids, the more, the better. For best effect, it’s a good idea to try to get a mix of cannabinoids. These work together to enhance the benefits of CBD or THC, thanks to the entourage effect. 

This effect means that the compounds complement each other in their actions, creating faster, more potent results. 

Side Effects of THC vs CBD

The most obvious side effect associated with THC is the ‘high’ that users experience when taking it. Afterward, most people experience feelings of sleepiness or intense hunger, too. 

Other side effects associated with THC, include:

  • Coordination problems
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Slower reactions
  • Red eyes
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety

These side effects are temporary and don’t affect everybody who takes THC.

CBD can also cause some mild side effects. These are:

  • Fatigue
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness

These are rare and related to the mild psychoactive properties of CBD.

When you first start taking CBD, it’s important to commence with the lowest dosage and work your way up to a level that brings the relief you need. You can also experiment with different ways to take CBD until you find which one works best for you.

Legal Issues With THC and CBD

Although nine out of ten Americans feel that THC should enjoy the same legal status as CBD, the federal government is steadfast in its stance against this cannabinoid

Some states disagree, and medical marijuana enjoys a legal status in 36 states. It’s approved for recreational use in another 21 states. 

CBD is legal in all fifty states. It shouldn’t show up in a drug test unless you’re taking a full spectrum product. 

The tiny amounts of THC in these medications might cause a positive result. 

If you get caught in possession of marijuana or marijuana products containing THC, you could face a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

Make Sure You Know What You’re Getting

It’s important to ensure you get the exact product you need when shopping for THC and CBD products. You could end up in serious trouble if you inadvertently take a CBD product that’s filled with unlawful amounts of THC. 

Always buy your supplements from a manufacturer that engages in third-party lab testing. That way, you know that a reputable agency has verified what they say on the box.

When in Doubt, Ask

Now that you know the difference between THC and CBD, you’re in a better position to make informed health decisions – and stay out of trouble.

Remember, both THC and CBD can have adverse effects when taken in conjunction with other medications. So, always consult your doctor before trying any of these products.

Bookmark our website and check back regularly for more on the world’s top trends. 



Patricia Ann Cole has been writing stories since she was a child. Most of those stories were of a paranormal nature. In her adult life she earned a BA in mathematics and taught elementary math for many years. She loves to read, particularly romance novels. She can talk for hours about a TV series. She adores her cat, Sonic. She loves spending time with family and friends, especially her nieces and nephew. She is an avid traveler and enjoys the more exotic adventures.
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