CBD vs. THC vs. Hemp, What’s the Difference?

Humans have used cannabis for centuries for its recreational and medicinal benefits. While other cannabinoids are also significantly necessary, CBD and THC seem to be responsible for most of the plant’s effects. 

Since CBD products are quickly gracing the web pages of e-commerce stores, it’s vital for buyers to learn about the difference between THC, hemp, and CBD. In this CBD vs. THC comparison, we’ll discuss the similarities and differences between both cannabinoids. 

What Is the Difference Between CBD, Hemp, and THC?

While CBD and THC are cannabinoids, hemp is the plant they’re present in. Industrial hemp has a higher CBD content while cannabis has a higher THC amount. 

CBD and THC are two of the cannabinoids present in hemp. Depending on the strain, their concentration can differ. Even in a low concentration, these cannabinoids are known for their significant effect on the nervous system.

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If we consider their chemical structure, both compounds have the same number of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon atoms – 2, 30, and 21, to be precise. However, the arrangement of these atoms is different, leading to the varying effects of the compounds. 

Another similarity between the cannabinoids is their targets. They both act on the endocannabinoid system, attaching to the receptors to induce a cellular change.

Due to this interaction, the brain releases appropriate neurotransmitters that relay the message to the relevant cell for enhancing immune functions, lowering anxiety, or easing pain. 

CBD vs. THC: Which Is Psychoactive?

Although they’re a part of the same plant, both compounds are different in terms of their intoxicating effects. THC is psychoactive in a way that your body can feel, while CBD’s psychoactiveness is ‘silent.’ 

Therefore, the latter does not make you high as the former does. Plus, CBD binds with the CB1 receptors, but this interaction is very weak. In most cases, it needs THC’s help in binding with the appropriate receptors to stimulate an effect. 

In return, it reduces a few of the undesirable effects of THC, like sedation. 

On the other hand, THC binds strongly with the CB1 receptors in the brain, causing a high or euphoria. 

CBD vs. THC: Are They Legal?

Speaking of CBD legality in the US, the Farm Bill brought a major revolution in the field. It made CBD products legal in the country as long as they don’t have over 0.3% THC. 

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In more than 33 states, the local legislators have made cannabis products with high THC content legal for medicinal purposes. However, the product must be prescribed by a medical professional. 

Moreover, some states have also made it legal for people to use cannabis recreationally. 

It’s important to be familiar with your state laws before buying products with a high THC content. If you’re found possessing or carrying a high-THC content in states where it’s illegal, you’ll face legal repercussions. 

Even at the moment, the DEA considers CBD as a Schedule I controlled drug. However, the authority confirmed that trace amounts of CBD in seeds and hemp stalks are legal. 

As scientific research is revealing more about the benefits of cannabis, the laws are changing. So, if you’re using CBD or hemp extract for medicinal purposes, it’s best to keep up with the CBD-related news. 

As for the international laws around CBD and THC’s legality, they differ from one country to another. Cannabis is legal in some countries for recreational use, while in others, you can’t even use it for medicinal reasons. 

CBD vs. THC: What Are The Benefits?

Since the past decade, the list of CBD benefits has expanded notably. Previously, the cannabinoid was only known for its anti-seizure effect. In fact, the FDA has also approved a CBD-infused anti-seizure medication, called Epidiolex. 

However, the FDA does not regulate any other CBD products available online. 

Recent research has shown that CBD could be useful against the following health concerns: 

  • Pain and inflammation
  • Aftereffects of cancer therapy, like nausea and lack of appetite
  • Epilepsy
  • Insomnia 
  • PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder 
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases 
  • Opioid withdrawals 

Although CBD has therapeutic potential, users must understand that it’s not a replacement for therapy or medicinal treatment. Instead, you can use it as a complementary treatment after consulting with your doctor. 

Like CBD, THC also has multiple benefits, including pain relief. It also helps patients suffering from glaucoma or insomnia. However, the most important benefit of THC is the stimulatory effect it has on CBD. 

Simply put, it improves the functioning of CBD, allowing the cannabinoid to perform its job efficiently. 

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Side Effects of CBD and THC

We couldn’t finish this CBD vs. THC comparison without talking about the side effects of both cannabinoids. At the time, there’s not much concerning evidence against these compounds’ risk. 

However, that’s not proof of their absolute safety. 

In fact, there isn’t enough research on these compounds altogether to determine their complete mechanism, benefits, and side effects. Till now, research has found the following risks to be associated with THC: 

  • Increased heart rate 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety 
  • Red eyes
  • Lack of coordination 
  • Slowed down reaction time 

Meanwhile, CBD could have the following side effects: 

  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Change in appetite 

At present, research shows neither THC nor CBD to be fatal. Plus, high CBD doses, even 1500mg, have been tolerated well by study subjects. 

On the other hand, using high THC doses for too long may cause psychiatric effects, although no scientific study has proved it so far. 


Whether you’re using THC or CBD, keep in mind that they’ll show up on drug tests. Even CBD products with less than 0.3% THC content might be seen in a screening. That’s because the cannabinoids are fat-soluble and stay in the body for many days or even weeks. 

Secondly, make sure to talk to a doctor before using CBD for a chronic illness since the cannabinoid interacts with drugs. Hopefully, this CBD vs. THC comparison helped you learn enough about the compounds to differentiate between the two.

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