March 4, 2024

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A Comparison of CBD and THC

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Cannabidiol, or CBD, and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are two of many different cannabinoids present in marijuana. When in the body, CBD and THC interact with cannabinoid receptors to help treat or limit the effects of various conditions.

There are hundreds of cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body that cause specific physiological effects. Potential uses of these cannabinoids include treating the following:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Cancer
  • Appetite loss and eating disorders
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms

The most notable difference between CBD and THC is the lack of psychoactive effects for CBD, which does not typically cause the characteristic marijuana high of THC.

In this article, we explain more about the differences between CBD and THC.

The Differences

Though CBD and THC are both found in marijuana and interact with the endocannabinoid system, there are some important differences a person should be aware of.

Getting High

Despite both being cannabinoids, CBD and THC interact with slightly different receptors in a person’s brain.

As a result, CBD is unlikely to get an individual high. On the other hand, THC produces the high people associate with using marijuana recreationally.

[The following statement should be read with caution because of ambiguity:] Medical marijuana that is CBD dominant has minimal THC. As a result, a person will not feel high when taking the medication.

Medical marijuana that contains THC will cause the person to experience a high when taking the medicine.

Where Do They Come From?

Both CBD and THC are present in marijuana.

However, when a person takes a CBD dominant version of medical marijuana, they are using CBD from hemp, which is closely related to marijuana.

THC originates in the marijuana plant, and people extract it from that source.


CBD and THC have similar effects for treating medical conditions. However, there is some variation in the uses of each substance.

People typically use CBD to help treat the following:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Psychosis or mental disorders
  • Migraines

THC has potential uses in treating some of the following:

  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Low appetite
  • Insomnia

People may use either to help treat:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea


Many states in North America have approved of people having at least limited use of medical marijuana.

Each state varies slightly on how they define and regulate the legal use, prescription, or sale of marijuana.

There is no federal law allowing the legal use of medical marijuana. As a result, it is illegal to use or prescribe medical marijuana in any state that does not have a law allowing people to do so.

Several states have approved the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. As with medical marijuana, recreational usage is not legal federally.

A person should look into the laws in their state before acquiring medical marijuana. If the state does not explicitly allow its use, a person could face legal issues for obtaining or using marijuana for medical or any other purpose.

Laws surrounding the use of medical and recreational marijuana are changing rapidly. A person who is considering using CBD or THC should check their local laws regularly as they may change or be changing.

Side Effects

There are very few side effects with either CBD or THC.

In fact, CBD does not have known side effects. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source, CBD is safe in large quantities, and the only potential side effects are likely the result of interactions with other medications a person may be taking.

A person consuming THC may experience some temporary side effects. These can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Slower than average response times
  • A general feeling of being high
  • Memory loss
  • Issues with coordination
  • Increased heart rate

Teenagers, in particular, may experience adverse psychiatric effects from getting high. This may be because a teenager’s brain is still developing.

According to some research, regular or large doses of THC can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia in some people with a predisposition for the condition.

Neither CBD nor THC has any apparent side effects that are serious. Neither can be fatal when taken correctly. Also, people who use THC recreationally appear to have little risk of developing an addiction to it.

Ways To Take Each

Many people choose to smoke or vape marijuana or CBD, but this may not be possible for people with certain conditions.

CBD is available in a variety of forms. These include:

  • Gels
  • Supplements
  • Gummies
  • Oils

THC can also come in different forms, including:

  • Smokable products
  • Oils
  • Tinctures
  • Edibles, such as brownies
  • Capsules


CBD and THC are both cannabinoids found in marijuana.

Though similar in what they may help treat, the most important difference is that THC will cause a person to experience a high while CBD will not.

It is essential that people familiarize themselves with local laws before acquiring and using CBD or THC.

Both CBD and THC are still federally illegal substances and only approved for medication or recreational use in certain states.

Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.

[Originally reported by Medical News Today.]

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