THC vs CBD - What's the Difference?

The one question both cannabis users and novices alike seem to have in common is: What is the difference between CBD and THC? Many people seem to understand that there is one plant that flowers and you can smoke it and it will make you high... whats the big deal?

As it turns out, they have a few points. Where there are many differences between THC and CBD, there are also many similarities. CBD and THC, formally known as cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol respectively, are both chemical compounds called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Although there are over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis genus, these are the two most common.

Both cannabinoids interact with the body through a vital signaling system called the endocannabinoid system. This naturally occurring system is responsible for regulating a wide array of functions including:

    • Pain
    • Cycles of Cellular Life and Death
    • Memory
    • Mood
    • Immune Response
    • Sleep
    • Appetite

Okay, now that that's established, let's go over their differences.

THC is to Marijuana as CBD is to Hemp

THC and CBD are found in widely different proportions of the seeds, stalks, and flowers of the cannabis plant. The cannabis genus encompasses both hemp and marijuana. The cannabis plant has a finite amount of resources that can be distributed to its cannabinoids. Meaning, if one plant was dominated by THC, it would have fewer resources available to other cannabinoids such as CBD. 

industrial hemp vs medical marijuana

In marijuana, THC dominates the plant's composition. In fact, the plant has been bred for generations to produce a higher and higher THC content and thus a greater phycological effect. Marijuana strains can have as low as 3 percent THC, but most plants today average 12 percent THC. 

Hemp's composition is mostly dominated by CBD. In addition, hemp traditionally contains less around 0.3 percent THC, less than 10 times that of the least potent strain of marijuana making hemp a great cannabis option for naturally occurring high CBD levels. 

The Psychological High

The most apparent difference between the two cannabinoids revolves around the psychological high that is frequently associated with cannabis.

THC has famously been associated with marijuana because it produces the psychoactive "high" effect. THC directly influences the endocannabinoid system by activating the CB1 receptor in the brain which is was produces the psychoactive effect.  

CBD, on the other hand, does not activate the CB1 receptor and thus does not cause you to get high. In fact, CBD actually can block the CB1 receptor, suppressing the CB1-activating qualities of compounds like THC.