THC and CBD are two compounds that are found naturally abundant in the hemp plant or the marijuana plant.

Marijuana, on average, contains 12% THC while the hemp plant contains only 0.3%. Interestingly, if the THC content in hemp is more than the average 0.3% it is considered illegal according to federal law.

Both of these compounds are discussed a lot, especially when the legalization of these compounds has turned to the side of the supporters.

However, people that are new to the whole debate might end up confusing the two. They even have the same chemical formula. However, their atoms are structured differently in both these compounds, which creates all the difference.

Does It Produce A “High”?

The main difference between Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) lies in the fact that the former produces a “high” while the other doesn’t. That is why you would find THC in recreational compounds such as weed, while the CBD is mainly used for medical purposes such as pain relief, anxiety, etc.

The reason lies in our brains. All of us have cannabinoid receptors throughout our body. However, these cannabinoid receptors are further classified as CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system that is engrossed various processes such as mood, pain, appetite, etc.

The CB1 receptors are mainly found in the regions of the brain that regulate emotions, cognition, motion, etc. On the other hand, CB2 receptors are found throughout the immune system and the central nervous system.

THC and CBD interact with these receptors differently, producing different results.

When you ingest a compound containing THC, the THC binds with the cannabinoid 1 receptors (that are present in the brain), making them produce a sense of calm and relaxation we all refer to a “high.”

On the other hand, CBD does not bind to these receptors but interfere with them. CBD is known to interrupt the binding of THC with the cannabinoid 1 receptors, lowering the feeling of “high.”

Medical Benefits

CBD is said to cure a wide range of ailments from arthritis to diabetes. However, there is no scientific evidence that supports these claims. The only evidence we have is anecdotal. Nevertheless, the FDA has approved Epidiolex (CBD-based drug) for use against numerous serious kinds of childhood epilepsy.

On the other hand, multiple sclerosis pain; Parkinson’s disease tremors; glaucoma; nausea; and nerve pain are the main ailments that medical marijuana (containing THC) is known to cure.

Side Effects

CBD is widely popular because there are no serious side-effects to its use. Nevertheless, there have been reports of people feeling nausea, fatigue, upset stomach, tiredness, and irritability. Moreover, if CBD is mixed with other compounds, the side-effects can take a serious turn.

Whereas, THC does have some side-effects, especially if consumed frequently or in higher doses. These symptoms include loss of memory; an increase in heart rate; vomiting; and motory problems (difficulty balancing) to name a few.

These side-effects are the result of the psychoactive nature of the compound. And mostly occur in teens as their brains are still under development and are more prone to long-term psychological and psychiatric problems.


The legality of both CBD and THC based compounds falls under a grey area.
The complexity lies in the difference in opinions of federal law and state laws.

For example. Medical marijuana can be legally used in various states throughout the US even though it is considered illegal according to federal law. Some states have even made possession of recreational marijuana for personal use entirely legal, which clashes with federal law.

The same is the case with compounds containing CBD. However, because of the Farm Bill passed in December of 2018, hemp was legalized.

And even though there are still legal restrictions to its sale and possession, it is much safer to use CBD than THC, speaking strictly in legal terms.

You can freely buy, keep, and use CBD based compounds in some states such as Texas, while in others it is completely illegal.

Drug Tests

Both THC and CBD get stored in body fat; therefore, they can be detected in drug tests even after several days. Nevertheless, most of the drug tests performed in offices and educational institutions target THC.

Even though there are certain drug tests available that do detect the presence of CBD in the body, most of them are just looking for TCH as it has a psychoactive nature.

However, as we know THC is also found in hemp (even if it is just 0.3%) along with CBD, there is a chance that THC shows up in your test results even if you haven’t used it. So, it is better to let your employer or principal know if you are using CBD for medicinal purposes.

Final Words

As we have discussed in detail, there are critical differences between the two cannabinoids i.e. THC and CBD. But we see that CBD has gained more popularity over the years. The reason for this can be traced back to its non-psychoactive nature.

More and more people are starting to enjoy the medical benefits of CBD without getting stoned i.e. feeling psychoactive effects.

Moreover, in the long run, CBD is considered much safer as compared to THC because of its psychiatric problems occurring as a result of long term use.