How Is CBD Different from THC?

How Is CBD Different from THC?

To say that CBD and THC are popular is an understatement. The fame of the two compounds literally exploded in the last decade – particularly when it comes to CBD. People have started to learn more about the different types of cannabis, debunk myths about it and become more familiar with the cannabinoids present in the plant. As such, they feel safer using CBD or THC.

Shops feature products with both CBD or THC, either together or separately. Before trying any of these, you may want to educate yourself about what each compound is able to do, and which one is more suitable for your needs.

Despite coming from the same plant, CBD is a bit different from THC and can have different effects, benefits, and side effects. Unless you want a bad experience, it’s critical to know what makes them unique.

Let’s explore CBD and THC in more detail and learn how CBD is different from THC so you can start using the right cannabinoid.

The Origin of CBD and THC

CBD and THC are cannabinoids. They come from the cannabis plant and are present in multiple types of cannabis. That being said, they can be extracted from both hemp and marijuana.

Now, CBD and THC may come from different parts of cannabis depending on the case. THC is extracted from the flowering part and the leaves. On the other hand, CBD is sourced from the leaves, flowers, and stalk of the plant. However, it can also be derived from hemp with low amounts of THC.

The purest form of THC, respectively Delta-9, is naturally sourced. But when it comes to CBD, it can be either natural or synthetic.

Legality Issues Surrounding CBD and THC

Back when the 2018 Farm Bill was released, it focused on CBD and THC and their legal status.

Under the bill, CBD became legal – at least as long as it’s sourced from hemp and not marijuana. This allowed the CBD industry to bloom. Not only was it easier to transport CBD oil from one place to another, but it also allowed more people to join the industry. Besides, the price of CBD dropped thanks to this. This made CBD products more accessible to the population. [1]

If CBD comes from hemp that has less than 0.3% THC per dry weight, it is perfectly legal and can be used in most states. Making CBD federally legal allowed each state to decide for itself whether products with this compound get the green light or not. While CBD is fully legal in some states, other states have it as conditionally legal – meaning the CBD product must meet some conditions so that it doesn’t break the law. [2]

But as we shift to THC, things are a bit different. Not only is THC known to be intoxicating compared to CBD, but it also has a bad reputation – mostly among those who are not familiar with this industry.

And while CBD is legal pretty much everywhere, the same cannot be said about THC. Each state has its own laws regarding THC, with some deciding to completely ban it. When it’s legal, THC must meet certain conditions – such as being extracted from hemp with no more than 0.3% THC. Legality also varies based on the type of THC. For instance, laws might be different for Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 THC.

Anyone who wants to stay legal while enjoying hemp-derived products should either settle for CBD or make sure they live in a state where THC is legal. For the most part, CBD is a safer alternative.

The Chemical Structure of CBD and THC

CBD and THC share a very similar chemical structure to the natural endocannabinoids of our bodies. Also, they have the same molecular structure. To be more specific, they have 30 hydrogen atoms, 2 oxygen atoms, as well as 21 carbon atoms. [3]

The way the atoms are placed in their structure is what makes CBD and THC unique. CBD has 2 6-membered rings, whereas THC has an extra 6-membered ring created through an attachment between an oxygen atom and a carbon.

The difference is small, but it is responsible for the effects on the consumer.

Types of THC and CBD

CBD and THC are pretty complex. Each cannabinoid has different types that any consumer should be aware of. Knowing them and their unique qualities is what can help you choose the right product to use.

Here are the different types of THC and CBD:

·      THC

  • Delta-9 THC –

    Delta-9 THC is the main cannabinoid of the cannabis plant, and it is the one responsible for the intoxicating effects marijuana is renowned for. It is also present in hemp, and while it’s psychoactive, it can lead to many pleasant effects.

  • Delta-8 THC –

    Delta-8 occurs naturally in cannabis, just like Delta-9, but in very small amounts. The limitations make manufacturers create Delta-8 synthetically using CBD. It’s also less psychoactive than Delta-9, which is why it’s known as the friendlier chemical cousin of Delta-9 THC.[4]

  • Delta-10 THC –

    Similar to Delta-8, Delta-10 is also produced naturally by cannabis plants, but in limited amounts. As a result, it has to be made synthetically using a process called isomerization. [5]

  • THC-a –

    THC-a is the most common THC form present in cannabis. Unlike the others, it doesn’t have psychoactive effects on the user.

  • THCV –

    Tetrahydrocannabivarin is a form of THC present in cannabis, but it cannot properly bind to receptors. This makes it less intoxicating in smaller doses. In high amounts, it can be psychoactive.

  • THCP –

    Tetrahydrocannabiphorol is also found in the cannabis plant, and it is very strong. Actually, it is believed that its potency is 33% higher than that of Delta-9 THC.


·      CBD

  • Pure CBD (isolate) –

    This type of CBD is free of THC. It is just CBD alone, without other cannabinoids. [6]

  • Broad Spectrum CBD –

    Broad spectrum CBD is also free of THC. However, it does come with other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes in its composition.

  • Full Spectrum CBD –

    With this type of CBD, people can have CBD with a little bit of THC in it.

  • Whole Plant CBD –

    Whole plant CBD is the one that has every compound present in hemp. Usually, its thickness makes it very hard to use, and it also contains lots of oils and waxes.


Different Ways to Take CBD and THC

As they are both parts of the cannabis plant, CBD and THC can be extracted and added to a variety of products. This offers people multiple options to use the compounds and experience the desired effects. Anyone can pick the best way to consume CBD or THC, depending on their lifestyle.

With the different ways to consume each cannabinoid, it’s easy to choose something that fits into your routine.

When it comes to CBD, you can find it in the form of:






As for THC, you can find it in the form of:

Edibles, like gummies, brownies, and others





Are CBD and THC Approved by the FDA?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis for the treatment of any medical condition. At the same time, some drugs contain either THC or CBD and were approved by the FDA. [7]

Cesamet is an FDA-approved drug that is used to treat appetite issues and weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS or chemotherapy. The synthetic substance in its composition is very similar to THC.

Syndros and Marinol are two FDA-approved drugs that contain a synthetic type of THC. This substance is known as dronabinol. Both medications can treat chemotherapy nausea and vomiting.

Epidiolex is perhaps one of the most popular products that contain CBD and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It can treat seizures related to epilepsy, specifically those caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Do CBD and THC Show Up on Drug Tests?

It’s important to know how CBD and THC will do on a drug test – especially if your workplace performs frequent drug testing procedures.

Now, you might think that using the little THC or CBD amount present in the products you buy will not be detectable, but that is not true. Even small quantities can be detected – especially if we’re talking about THC.

THC is more easily detectable on tests. This is because they are made to detect it in your system. Therefore, your employer can easily find out if you’re a fan of this cannabinoid. Compared to THC, CBD is not as easy to detect on drug tests.

You should not rely on this, though. There are a few tests that were made to spot CBD.

If you want to make your CBD consumption less problematic, you should consider something like CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD. The reason is that these options do not involve THC.

On the other hand, if you use any CBD product with THC, you should expect it to be detected, even if the THC amount does not exceed the legal limit of 0.3%.

What Benefits Can CBD Bring Compared to THC?

CBD and THC are used for one reason: they have many benefits to bring to the table. Although they have not been approved by the FDA as medical treatments, studies indicate that both cannabinoids can lead to various positive effects that can improve the life of the user.

The two can have different benefits, all influenced by the chemical structure of the compound, the amount used, and the person’s body.

·      THC

  • Nausea

Studies have shown that THC can be effective in treating nausea associated with cancer treatments. So, it can help when experiencing nausea and vomiting.

  • Appetite Increase

When dealing with poor appetite, people have claimed that THC helped boost it significantly. THC can especially help with appetite issues caused by the treatment for cancer.

  • Glaucoma

Cannabinoids like THC have been found to be effective in treating the symptoms of glaucoma. They do so by reducing intraocular pressure.

·      CBD

  • Anxiety Relief

One of the most known benefits of CBD is the fact that it helps with anxiety. Various studies and trials have shown how effective it can be in treating generalized anxiety.

A small trial from 2011 gave participants who were suffering from generalized anxiety disorder some CBD, while others got a placebo. The study revealed that those who used CBD experienced a reduction in their symptoms. [8]

More studies revealed anxiety reduction as well.

  • Depression

Several studies have also shown that CBD has some antidepressant properties. As such, it can be used to help with depression.

While CBD can be useful when dealing with depression, the studies we have so far are animal studies. That being said, we need more info to confirm how effective CBD is for depression. [9]

  • Inflammation

CBD may have anti-inflammatory effects, being useful in treating inflammation. [10]

  • Seizures

Sometimes, CBD is used to treat seizures. More specifically, we’re talking about seizures caused by tuberous sclerosis complex, as well as two specific epilepsy forms.

What Are the Side Effects of CBD Compared to THC?

CBD and THC can also have a few side effects, such as:

·      THC

Memory loss

Red eyes

Dry mouth

Coordination issues

High feeling

Slower response times

Higher heart rate

·      CBD





Weight loss

Changes in appetite

Although CBD can have a few side effects, it is generally considered safer than THC. Even in larger doses, the compound is better tolerated.

According to research, most of the time, CBD side effects appear due to their interactions with other medications or cannabinoids.


CBD and THC are popular, and they can bring different effects to those who use them. But between the two, CBD is the safer alternative. You can enjoy it without worrying about getting high if you opt for pure CBD products. At the same time, there are fewer risks of experiencing side effects.

Both cannabinoids can help with different medical conditions, but the chances of tolerating CBD are higher compared to THC.