Major Differences Between CBD and THC

The focus lately is on whether to legalize cannabis or not. This debate carries on and, as a result, it has brought awareness to more people about cannabis. The arguments often are over concern of the plant’s cannabinoids like Cannabidiol or CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol also known as THC. There are many cannabinoids in the plant but these are the two most prevalent in the plant and they are the ones producing the effects that people often take cannabis for.

There have been lots of studies done to confirm the medical worthiness that both of these cannabinoids have. Both current consumers, as well as potential ones, should be aware of the two. They each have distinct differences and effects, as well as benefits. Knowing the differences makes it easier to choose which of these to use for your own needs. This article will explain the major differences between the two cannabinoids and go over more about how they work and the effects that they elicit from users.

Psychoactive Differences

The most basic difference between THC and CBD is the way in which they act upon the brain and the body after being ingested or smoked. Most people readily understand that THC is what causes the high that is associated with using cannabis. More people are learning that CBD acts on the brain and body but not in a psychoactive manner. Each cannabinoid is responsible for different effects which are described in more detail below.

The way these substances act comes down to how they interact with the human endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid CB1 receptors. THC binds with the CB1 receptors but CBD does not act in the same way. The difference in these two bonds is what causes them to act on the body and brain in distinct ways.

THC is a CB1 agonist so it activates the receptors. It does this by acting like the neurotransmitter anandamide also commonly called the bliss molecule. This neurotransmitter is the one responsible for causing something called runner’s high. Anandamide has also been shown to change a person’s perception of pain, their pleasure from food, and affect their memory. It also increases appetite. THC does the exact same thing upon its attachment to and activation of the CB1 receptors.

CBD works differently. It does not have an affinity for CB1 receptors, so it does not activate them like THC does. It counteracts the effects THC has and even negates THCs psychoactive properties. What this means for anyone consuming marijuana is that if it has a high CBD content it will balance out the THC’s psychoactive effects.

Molecular Structural Differences

THC and CBD are structural isomers. This means they have the same chemical composition but have different atomic arrangements. For those who can appreciate molecular formulas, they are both C21H30O2 with molecular weights of 314.4g/mol.

It is the atomic arrangement that makes up more of their differences even though they are cyclic compounds. THC has a closed ester group ring and CBD has an open one that connects with the alkene group and a hydroxyl. The difference in the atomic arrangement makes for the difference the two have.

Side Effects

Each cannabinoid has different ways of interacting on the endocannabinoid system. THC produces side effects like paranoia, slower reaction times, difficulty coordinating, red eyes, and short-term memory loss. It also produces euphoria. According to the National Cancer Institute, it is impossible to have a deadly THC overdose but the consumption of the substance in teenagers in high amounts can produce psychiatric problems.

On the other hand, side effects of CBD are quite opposite of THC. The substance reduces anxiety, it reduces short-term memory problems and it balances out the THC side effects. It can produce drowsiness and in some people, dry mouth. Still, research has shown that CBD is safe for consumption and does not have any outward psychiatric or neurological side effects that would be of any concern.

THC and CBD Concentrations

THC concentrations are mostly found in marijuana, but CBD concentrations are more plentiful in hemp. Both marijuana and hemp are members of the cannabis plant family, but the concentrations of THC and CBD are different. The amount of THC in hemp is usually very low and comprises about 03 percent of the plant. The CBD concentration is very high which makes hemp the choice plant for cultivating CBD products from.

Most people recognize marijuana as being the plant that produces the THC side effects because of it being in larger concentrations in it. This is true because the least potent marijuana plants have more than 3 percent of THC in them. This is greater than the concentration in hemp. Because the plant strains have been cloned and forced to contain higher THC amounts, today’s average is about 12 percent.

Legal Status Differences Between CBD and THC

Both THC and CBD have various legal standings in many different countries and states. In the United States, the legal cannabinoid products vary based on how strong they are and where they are sourced from.

Legally, the federal law dictates that THC and marijuana are prohibited as controlled substances under the US Controlled Substances Act. Despite the federal standings, 29 states and Washington D.C. have passed legal policies and acts that permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Additionally, eight other states have passed laws about the legal use of marijuana and THC for recreational reasons.

CBD has a legal status that lies in limbo. It is not a listed substance under the US Controlled Substances Act. What this means is that as long as it does not get extracted from marijuana plants but from hemp plants, it is legal. There have been attempts in the past from the DEA to crack down on the production and sales of CBD items, but these actions have been met with legal snafus.

You need to decide for yourself before taking any THC or CBD what is preferable to you. You also need to make sure that you check your local laws to make sure your consumption of your chosen substance is legal.