What’s The Difference Between CBD and THC?

CBD vs THC, What’s the Difference?

The two most renowned cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). They both share the same chemical formula but rearranged. This different arrangement

This is a common question that comes with CBD. As with most of the negative views of CBD, it comes from its association with the marijuana plant.

In this article, we’ll further your understanding of what CBD is, what THC is, and clear up the misconceptions and controversy that surrounds and holds back CBD.

What’s The Difference Between CBD and THC? CBD and THC are separate parts of the cannabis plant. They both share the same chemical formula but rearranged. This different arrangement of THC is what means it can give people the ‘high’ but CBD does not.

Many variables have to be considered with CBD because it depends on the product, the quality of it and how some people metabolize CBD differently, just as with any biohacking supplement.

How CBD and THC are linked

CBD and THC both come from the Cannabis Sativa plant species, hence ‘cannabinoids’.

Typically, CBD oil you find on the market today comes from the Hemp plant. The Hemp plant is a strain of the cannabis Sativa plant species.

However, to be grown and sold (with a license) it is legally required to be grown to have less than 0.3% THC content. This amount is substantially inconsequential and would not give you a ‘high’.

The human body actually produces its own cannabinoids and has two receptors for cannabinoids.

These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are often found in the brain and are linked with bodily functions such as coordination, movement, emotions, mood, appetite, memories and pain.

THC affects these functions as it attaches to the CB1 receptors. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system, they affect pain and inflammation.

CBD itself does not actually attach to these receptors as was once believed, rather, CBD helps the body to use more of its own cannabinoids.

Some of CBD’s health benefits are explained by how it is used/how it works in the body. The cannabinoids, which it helps to use more efficiently, have an anti-inflammatory effect. So, they block pain signals from reaching the CB1 receptors. As these receptors relate to memories, pain, etc, this, in turn, affects mood, memories and also pain.

Explaining some of the ailments which CBD has been shown to help with. The list of health benefits from CBD includes:

  • Reducing symptoms of both anxiety and depression
  • Easing/relieving chronic pain
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammation

Read more on these and many others here. **LINK ARTICLES HERE?**

THC has been illegal, for recreational use, in the UK since 1928. Check its legality across the world here.

Although it does provide a psychoactive response in the ‘high’ that it gives you, THC can also provide some important medical usages which are only just being researched and leading to its legalization, for medical use, in some countries (check the list in the above link to see where). These medical uses include:

  • Vomit inhibiting properties – useful in the treatment of cancer patients who are on chemotherapy
  • Increases in appetite – again useful for cancer patients or for people with eating disorders such as anorexia.

It is non-addictive and there are no withdrawal symptoms.

Studies and experiments on its short term dangers often come up with nothing.

However, some side-effects include drowsiness, reduced concentration and reduced/worsened short term memory, because of this it was made illegal for recreational use in 1928 in the UK.

The link above shows where it is legal and illegal.

THC has been shown to improve the effectiveness of CBD, research is being done on this and the legality of THC is a modern controversy, with many calling for its complete legalization.

CBD is similarly non-addictive with no withdrawal symptoms. Short term dangers are also similarly nonapparent.

Long term dangers or side effects are still being studied as it has only recently come onto the mainstream market as a product, but no serious side effects are yet found.

Some common side effects include fatigue, appetite changes, and diarrhea. CBD is legal in the majority of countries so long as it has less than 0.3% THC content.

Purchasing from reputable, trusted manufacturers or shops will ensure that the product is legal, safe and also provides what it claims to on the packaging.

Failing drug tests due to taking CBD

A fairly large risk associated with CBD is the fact that it can make you fail a drug test.

Drug tests look for both THC and its metabolites, not CBD.

However, trace amounts of THC are still present in the majority if not all CBD products.

As aforementioned, no more than 0.3% but this can still be enough to provide a false positive.

Many variables contribute to the risk of testing positive on a drug test after taking CBD, including:

  • The product itself (trustworthy with its contents? reputable?)
  • The user’s metabolization of CBD

Minimizing this risk is simple. Buy the product from a reputable source and always read the label.

Different types of CBD to consider

There are 3 different types of CBD:

  • Full-spectrum
  • Broad-spectrum
  • CBD isolate


This type contains all of the compounds that are found in the plant they are extracted from.

It contains CBD as well as THC, flavonoids, and terpenes. It is the most commonly found and sold type of CBD and can be in products ranging from edibles to topicals.


This type does NOT contain THC but does contain all the other compounds (CBD, terpenes, and flavonoids).

This type is, therefore, more expensive and less widely available.

As previously mentioned, research shows that THC helps CBD to work better, meaning that this type of CBD may be less effective in treatment.

CBD Isolate

This is only CBD, it does not contain any additional compounds like flavonoids or THC.

Again, less commonly found but can be bought as a block that can be broken up and eaten.

The issue of THC relating to the effectiveness of CBD should again be brought up, so this type may not be as useful in treating ailments.

The absence of THC in broad-spectrum and CBD isolate eliminates the risk of failed drug tests.

If you are worried about failing a drug test from taking CBD, try these types.

The risk is there with full-spectrum due to the presence of THC (however minimal) but purchasing from trustworthy, reputable sources minimizes this risk.


CBD and THC are similar in chemical formulas and do come from the same plant species, but that is where the similarities stop.

CBD is legal, THC is not (in most countries).

CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive properties. THC does. Both do have health benefits, but, due to the legality of one and not the other, only one is commercially available (in most countries anyway, check this list for clarification in your country).

There are different types of CBD, each providing different compounds and minerals.

THC is found in the majority of CBD oils on the market today, but it is legally limited to 0.3% THC content.

This is enough to potentially fail a drug test so be cautious in taking CBD or pick from the different types available to minimize this risk.

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