As the legal use of cannabis grows across the world, consumers are becoming more and more curious about the different options they have available to them. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, however, they are very different in many ways.
Both THC and CBD interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but that interaction elicits very different effects.
What are Cannabinoids?
The cannabinoid is the name used to describe all of the chemical compounds found within cannabis. Whilst there are over 100 different cannabinoids found in cannabis by scientists so far, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most prominent cannabinoids found in cannabis and also the most extensively studied and therefore, the most understood.
What is CBD?
CBD is commonly used to produce CBD hemp oil products, as it is non-intoxicating and produces no euphoric or psychoactive effects.
However, this does not mean that CBD, by itself cannot offer an effect. Higher doses of CBD can provide a very relaxing experience, making your body feel tingly and relaxed and your brain may feel clearer.
The list of conditions of which CBD can help is ever-expanding. Whilst research is still being carried out to better understand the efficacy and range of CBD’s benefits, but it’s commonly used to manage;
- Epilepsy and seizure disorders
- Pain and inflammation
- PTSD and anxiety
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
What’s more, CBD has become famous for treating a rare and debilitating form of pediatric epilepsy called Dravet’s Syndrome. Dravet’s Syndrome is notoriously resistant to various treatment methods. Those who suffer from it are plagued with seizures, often thousands a day, which then worsen as people age and can even be life-threatening.
CBD also has the ability to block some of the intoxicating effects of THC, as it binds the cannabinoid receptors, keeping the THC from activating those receptors. Therefore, this translates to a less intense psychoactive effect, which is why many opt for products with a mix of CBD and THC.
What is THC?
THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. It activates the signal to release dopamine within the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood and pleasure. By triggering a higher-than-normal release of dopamine, THC causes a euphoric feeling.
In fact, THC has also been shown to have medical benefits for the following;
- Muscle spasticity
- Low appetite
What are the Differences in the Effects of CBD vs. THC?
Since CBD and THC will interact with the body in different ways, each user may have a unique experience.
The Effects of CBD
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, which means that it does not elicit a euphoric effect or alter your perception in any way.
It is important to note that CBD influences the endocannabinoid system and other receptor systems in people’s bodies differently. Some people have reported that CBD makes them feel ‘in the flow’ or a ‘sense of serenity’, whilst others have noted that CBD products make them feel ‘more awake’ or ‘energised’.
All in all, High-CBD strains can deliver very clear-headed, functional effects and they are typically preferred by consumers who are extremely sensitive to THC.
The Effects of THC
THC, on the other hand, has intoxicating properties which create a ‘euphoric’ feeling almost immediately. It can also produce a variety of physical and psychological effects, with the most common being euphoric feelings and heightened senses.
How Do THC and CBD Appear in Drug Testing?
As THC is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, it is detectable on most standard drug tests. CBD may also be detectable, but many drug tests are not designed to look for cannabidiol.
However, many CBD products do also contain very small traces of THC. Whilst these quantities are small, they may still be detectable if you consume a large amount of CBD or the products you are using contain more THC than the packaging label states.
Both THC and CBD will be stored within body fat, which means that they could both potentially be detected on drug tests, even after you’ve stopped using them, which is something to keep in mind.
What’s the Difference in Legality between THC and CBD?
In the US, when the Farm Bill was passed in December 2018, industrial hemp became a legal agricultural commodity in all 50 states. Otherwise, the legality of hemp-derived CBD depends on state laws. Any cannabis strains that have higher levels of THC will only be legal in states that have regulated cannabis markets. States such as Maryland have marijuana programs in which qualifying patients can have access to medical cannabis only with a medical marijuanas card MD.
Across the pond in the UK, however, CBD is perfectly legal as it is classified as a food supplement whereas cannabis itself is an illegal class B drug. All CBD products must contain less than 0.2 per cent THC, which is an illegal substance.
How are THC and CBD Taken?
Both THC and CBD can be consumed in different ways. THC is typically consumed as cannabis by smoking, but many products are also available including;
- Vape products
Like THC, CBD is also consumed in various different forms such as oils for vaping, lotions and salves and also capsules and sprays. Edible CBD products are also popular including gummies and sweets.
A Final Word
Both THC and CBD are derived from the same plant, however, they have distinct properties that separate one from another. THC is known for the euphoric feeling and psychoactive effects and CBD is known for its health benefits. It’s important to keep in mind that CBD levels can vary from plant to plant, so it’s important to check with dispensaries the specifics of the CBD levels in certain strains.
More often than not, it’s a good idea to purchase only lab-tested products that clearly state how much CBD and THC they contain so you know exactly what experience you can expect and whether you will feel comfortable.