But if they asked you to explain why… could you?
To start, both are three-letter acronyms revolving around cannabis. But what are they each used for? How do they each interact with your body? And are they both legal in your state?
The cannabis industry has grown and expanded into a dizzying number of products over the last few years. Many people aren’t clear about what, exactly, is the difference. Although CBD and THC have some things that overlap, they actually interact with your body in completely distinct ways, which has led to varying levels of regulation.
If you are interested in using CBD or THC products, you should be clear on what each is. Here, we’ll go over what they have in common, how they interact with the body, their separate legal status, and more.
What Do THC and CBD Have in Common?
There is a lot of overlap in terminology in the cannabis industry, and it can be difficult to parse out the exact information you need to know. It may be counterintuitive, but to understand the differences between THC and CBD, it’s helpful to first start with the similarities.
The cannabis plant is a genus of flowering plant within the Cannabaceae family. Both marijuana and hemp plants are types of cannabis plants. If you ever see the plants in person, the two strains look similar and can grow in the same conditions.
Why do we mention both marijuana and hemp plants? Well, cannabis plants contain over 100 particular natural compounds called “cannabinoids”. Each compound has slightly unique properties, prompting unique interactions with your body.
However, although both hemp and marijuana contain the two compounds, the strains have been cultivated for different purposes—affecting the concentration of the THC vs CBD cannabinoids you’ll find in each plant.
Concentrations of CBD and THC in Cannabis
The THC compound has psychoactive properties when it interacts with your body, inducing an intoxicating, “high” feeling. Marijuana plants generally have a very high concentration of THC, up to around 30%. On the other hand, hemp plants possess less than a 0.3% THC concentration.
On the other hand, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid known for its therapeutic benefits for various health and wellness issues. CBD is found in high concentrations in the hemp plant, and it is also found in marijuana plants.
If you are consuming a hemp-derived product, there will be a nearly-untraceable amount of THC, and a high level of CBD. Without a large THC concentration, hemp-derived CBD products don’t get you high and are instead used for their other effects.
What Are CBD Products Made From?
Unless specified otherwise, the vast majority of CBD products in the United States are made with hemp-derived CBD (not marijuana). This is for two reasons: the distinct characteristics of each plant, plus the different legal status of each.
First, it’s important to keep in mind that these two strains of the cannabis plants have been bred to bring out certain characteristics for specific purposes.
In general, marijuana plants have been bred to focus on THC concentration, rather than CBD. Although there are some marijuana varieties that contain high percentages of CBD, the specific cannabinoid and terpene mix is less favorable than what is found in hemp.
Second, the two cannabis plants are different under federal law.
Hemp is a useful plant. Today, we use them as durable fiber to make things like rope, housing material, clothing, and paper. However, until recently, consuming or using hemp was illegal along with marijuana under federal law. Both were classified as illegal substances under the Schedule I drug category.
In 2018, new federal legislation in the Farm Bill decriminalized the agricultural production of hemp and any hemp-derived products. This meant that CBD derived from hemp, which has less than 0.3% THC, became legal across the country.
On the national level, marijuana remains treated as a controlled substance and is not federally legal. Some individual states and localities have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use, but it is not yet legal nationally.
CBD vs THC in the Body
There are many potential medical applications for THC under study; however, THC is has a significant psychoactive impact. While everyone has slightly different experiences under a THC-induced high, many search out THC products for the mind-altering effects.
However, as mentioned, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. Its effects come from how it interacts with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex signaling network located in many places throughout the body, made up of hormone producers and receptors. The ECS influences some of our most important functions, playing a role in regulating sleep, pain, mood, and more.
CBD interacts with the ECS, impacting the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, without creating any feelings of intoxication.
Hemp-derived CBD can help generate feelings of calm, without psychoactive effects. For instance, a product like CBD + CBG Morning Capsules For Energy & Focus is popular with those looking to improve energy and start the day with peace of mind.
Another common use for CBD products is to help get ready for sleep at the end of the day. Since the effects of CBD can alleviate feelings of stress or anxiety that may keep you awake, CBD Gummies for Sleep with Melatonin can function as a helpful part of a nighttime routine.
CBD vs THC: Final Thoughts
CBD products are now a part of many people’s health and wellness. These habits encourage better sleep, deep feelings of focus, and contribute to the overall balance.
And with all this knowledge of CBD, all that remains is the fun part: it’s time to start trying products!