What’s the Difference between CBD and THC

What’s the Difference between CBD and THC

With the debate on whether legalization of cannabis is the way to go (or not) raging on, cannabis has received a lot of attention and more so it constituent cannabinoids �” tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). While cannabis has numerous cannabinoids, the vast majority of the attention has centered on these two compounds, partly due to their abundance in cannabis plants and partly due to the effects that they yield when consumed.

In fact, the vast majority of the scientific studies into the medical uses of cannabis have focused on these two cannabinoids. Thus from a consumer or potential consumers standpoint, it is important that you are fully acquainted with what these cannabinoids have to offer. Importantly, it is important that you fully grasp the differences between the two and, therefore, make a decision to consume the cannabinoids that will suit your needs. In this regard, herein we will explore the differences between CBD and THC, covering a wide range of aspects.

Differences In Psychoactivity

The most noticeable difference between CBD and THC is how the two cannabinoids interact with the body when ingested. For the most part, people now understand that it is the THC that causes the euphoric “high” feeling that is characteristic of marijuana ingestion. In the same light, people now understand that CBD is not psychoactive cannabinoid. What people may not know is why these two cannabinoids cause very different reactions.

The differences in psychoactivity are down to how these cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, especially the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors. On one hand, THC binds very well with the CB1 receptors while CBD has a very low affinity to these receptors. Even more important to the question of differences is the effects that THC has after binding together with the CB1 receptors.

With regards to THC, it activates and stimulates the receptors as it is a CB1 agonist. This is because THC mimics the neurotransmitter anandamide, colloquially known as “the bliss molecule”. This neurotransmitter is known to cause a blissful effect, known as the runner’s high. Additionally, it is known to increase appetite, enhance the pleasure derived from food, affect pain perception, as well affect memory. THC produces the same effects after it activates the CB1 receptors.

On the other hand, since CBD as a low affinity towards the CB1 receptors, it does not activate the receptors. In fact, it works to counteract the effects of THC, opposing the influence of THC and, thereby, negating the psychoactivity of THC. Thus consuming cannabis with a higher amount of CBD will help reduce the extent of some of the psychoactive effects.

Differences In Molecular Structure

CBD and THC are structural isomers; they share the same chemical composition and the only difference is the atomic arrangement. In fact, they share the same molecular weight (314.4g/mol.) as well as molecular formula (C21H30O2).

Only the atomic arrangement induce some differences, where despite being cyclic compounds, CBD has an open ring with an alkene group and a hydroxyl while THC has a closed ring with an ester group. The differences in the atomic arrangement yield the marked difference between the two cannabinoids.

Differences In Side-Effects

With the apparent differences in the interactions with the endocannabinoid system, CBD and THC yield different effects. For instance, THC’s side effects include red eyes, increased paranoia, coordination problems, lowered reaction times, euphoria, and short-term memory impairment. Nonetheless, the National Cancer Institute reckons that it is not possible to have a fatal overdose of THC. However, evidence suggests that the consuming high concentrations of THC during adolescence can increase psychiatric disorders.

On the other hand, CBD’s side effects are simply the opposite of what THC produces. As mentioned above, it counteracts THC and thus decreases anxiety and short-term memory impairment of the THC. However, it does cause dry mouth and drowsiness in some people. Nevertheless, research has shown CBD to be safe for human consumption, with its consumption showing no adverse psychiatric or clinical neurological.

CBD Concentration In Hemp And THC Concentration In Marijuana

There are also differences in concentration between hemp and marijuana. Even though these two plants belong to the same cannabis family, the concentration of the two cannabinoids in either plant varies. For hemp, the concentration of THC is generally very low, no more than 0.3 percent. On balance, the concentration of THC is CBD is very high. This makes hemp the ideal source for CBD.

On the other hand, marijuana, which is mostly renowned for the high it induces when ingested, contains a high concentration of THC. In fact, the least potent strain of marijuana has over 3% concentration of THC, which is far more than the concentration found in hemp. However, since marijuana strains have been manipulated and cloned to contain a higher level of THC, the average THC concentration is 12%. In effect, there are differences in ideal sources.

Legal Status Of THC And CBD

The legal status of CBD and THC varies considerably depending on the country and state you are in. In the United States, the legality of the cannabinoid product is highly dependent on their concentration as well as their sources.

Under federal law, THC and marijuana are specifically prohibited and listed in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Nonetheless, the 29 states, as well as Washington D.C, have passed and implemented their own policies that allow the usage of both THC for medical reasons. Furthermore, there are 8 states that passed policies to allow using THC or legalized THC consumption for recreational use.

As for CBD, its legality lies in the grey area as it is not listed in the Controlled Substances Act. As such, as long as it is extracted from high-CBD hemp and not from marijuana, it is totally legal. DEA has in the past taken steps to crack-down on this product. However, some their actions have been legally challenged.

As such, if you are interested in consuming any of these two cannabinoids, it is important to check the local laws and determine whether you will be breaking the law or not.