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November 15, 2020

CBD vs. THC: What's the Difference?

A simple guide to help you understand the difference between the two cannabinoids.

Cannabis contains numerous chemical compounds, such as terpenes and cannabinoids, that are responsible for its flavor, benefits and effects. Currently, there are over 140 cannabinoids that have been isolated from the plant. 

Difference Between THC and CBD in Marijuana

The most “famous” and commonly used cannabinoids are THC and CBD. They are chemically similar to the body’s endocannabinoids and thus easily interact with the cannabinoid receptors.

THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive element of marijuana that provides the consumer with psychoactive effects, i.e. the high or buzz, as well as helping with various diseases.

CBD or cannabidiol is one of the most popular phytocannabinoids due to its potentially vast health benefits and lack of psychoactive effects.

Both cannabinoids are found in flower, edibles, and other marijuana infused products, though the ratio often differs.

Most marijuana strains contain around 20% THC and 1% or less of CBD, with the exception of high CBD strain like Incredible Power And industrial hemp, which is a variety of cannabis that is low in THC (less than 0.3%) and is often high in CBD. You can read more on the difference between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD here

Topicals usually offer a 1:1 ratio of both cannabinoids, while edibles range from pure THC to 20:1 CBD:THC. Concentrates are mostly THC only.

CBD vs. THC: Properties, Benefits, and Side Effects

CBD and THC, as well other less studied cannabinoids have showed benefits and potential in treating or easing symptoms of various ailments.


The main areas where CBD was reported or has shown to have treatment potential are:

- anxiety
- sleep disorders
- chemo therapy side effects
- muscle spasms and soreness
- skin diseases
- epilepsy

Most people tolerate even large quantities of CBD well, with no side effects, but some report side effects such as drowsiness, diarrhea, and dry mouth. 


Main reported benefits of THC include help with the following:
- inflammation
- pain 
- sleep disorders
- appetite loss, anorexia, digestion disorders
- chronic stress
- bipolar disorder
- depression
- migraines

Potential side effects of THC are dry eyes and mouth, inhibited coordination and reaction time (that is why driving under the influence is a violation of the law), increased heart rate, and anxiety.

It is also important to remember that combining THC and CBD provides not only the benefits of both but also has an entourage effect, enhancing them, while CBD counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC, which is great for those focused more on the medical effects.

Always remember to keep in mind, that CBD and/or THC are not wonder drugs, and while they may help with a great number of various diseases and alleviate their symptoms, you should not refrain from approved treatment protocols, as well as consulting your doctor on the use of cannabis, especially on combining it with the drugs you may have been prescribed. 

CBD vs. THC: Legal Status

THC and marijuana derived CBD are still illegal on the federal level since marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug.

Hemp and thus derived CBD, however, has been recently taken off the list and can now be transported across state line, shipped and delivered.

At the state level, the legality of THC and marijuana CBD depends on the cannabis laws adopted by it - whether it is allowed for purchase by medical patients with a doctor’s recommendation (medical marijuana card) or if it is also allowed for adult / recreational use, i.e. you just need to be 21+ to purchase it, or if it’s prohibited completely. You can see the details and the map detailing the legal status of cannabis by state here.  


THC and CBD have shown great potential and more studies are under way as you read this. Remember to beware of the side effects, consult your physician if needed, consume responsibly, and purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries and trusted manufacturers to ensure that it has been tested, is of high quality and offers precise dosage.

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