CBD vs THC; What’s the Difference?

CBD vs THC; What’s the Difference?

As we uncover more research about the potential benefits of hemp, more and more people become interested in what it may have to offer them. At first it can be confusing, especially when you consider that there are hundreds of active compounds in the cannabis plant.

Two of the most talked about compounds in the industry are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC). They are both cannabinoids, but their use and function in the body varies greatly.

Here we will explain a very simple version of what these compounds are and how they affect the human body. This can help sort out any confusion around the compounds.


Much of the confusion surrounding these two compounds may come from how similar they actually are in structure. Both compounds have the exact same chemical makeup with only sight variations. However, these slight variations make all the difference in how they interact with the body.

The human body has what is called an endocannabinoid system, which helps maintain various vital functions in the body. Both THC and CBD act on this system in one way or another. This is what produces the notable effects in each compound.

Psychoactive compounds

One of the most notable differences in THC and CBD appears in how the person feels when they use them. THC is the main intoxicating compound in cannabis. It is responsible for the feeling of euphoria, or “high” that people feel when ingesting it.

CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive, so it does not produce this high. In many cases CBD may actually suppress the high experienced from THC, as it blocks the compound from reaching the right receptors in the brain.

Side effects

Ingesting THC may also cause some side effects, depending on the dose and frequency, as well as a person’s personal sensitivity levels. Common side effects include things like anxiety or paranoia, and the side effects usually go away as the effect of the compound wears off.

CBD generally does not produce side effects when used at regular doses. Some sensitive people may have side effects when using CBD oils, including things like diarrhea and fatigue. Again, these side effects tend to go away as the compound wears off.

Both these compounds may also interact with certain medications or affect how the body uses these medications.

Are they legal?

The federal government of the United States lists all forms of cannabis as illegal substances. However, the 2014 US Farm Bill and subsequent Omnibus legislation legalized hemp-derived CBD grown under State Department of Agriculture (SDOA) oversight.

The fact that specific states legalize cannabis for either medical or recreational use, creates confusion and a grey area regarding CBD.  Though technically products containing only hemp derived CBD produced as part of SDOA programs are legal.

The main difference

The main difference between CBD and THC is how they interact in the body. THC is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, and is what makes a person feel “high”.

CBD on the other hand does not affect the brain in the same way. There is no altered state of mind from ingesting CBD, thought it may still help relieve mild anxiety and inflammation from exercise.

While THC also offers some potential for medical benefits for the body, most of these same medical benefits are also found in CBD – without the high and other possible side effects.