It can be easy to confuse CBD and THC, we get it. Both are derived from cannabis, and CBD and THC are commonly the most abundant active compounds found in the plant. In this article we’ll dive into the differences between CBD and THC. Then you can make informed decisions when integrating products into your wellness routine that best suit your lifestyle and needs.
What’s the difference between CBD and THC?
Here’s a simple way to think about it: THC is defined by what cannabis makes you feel, while the effects of CBD aren’t necessarily “felt”, but rather experienced. And while there are overlapping therapeutic benefits of each cannabinoid, there are specific conditions and ailments where it’s important to have specific ratios--CBD-dominant, THC-dominant or 1:1.
THC (aka Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive compound found in the cannabis and hemp plants. THC strongly binds to receptors in the brain, which is why those who consume it are more likely to report feeling euphoria, often described as feeling “high”.
CBD (aka cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis and hemp plants that is not associated with euphoric or “high” feelings. CBD is non-psychoactive but may create a mild feeling of relaxation.
The important distinction is that, unlike THC, CBD does not intoxicate you. It also addresses one of the most common reasons people choose to use CBD—pain management.
This does not mean that CBD, by itself, cannot offer therapeutic benefits. High doses of CBD often produce a profoundly relaxing experience. Like stepping out of a hot tub, your body may feel tingly and relaxed, and your brain may feel clearer.
Legality Differences CBD vs. THC
In the U.S., cannabis-related laws are constantly evolving. Cannabis (marijuana) and THC are on the list of controlled substances, they are still considered federally illegal. However, each state has the ability to construct its own legislature regarding cannabis.
With the passing of the Farm Bill in December 2018, industrial hemp became a legal agricultural commodity in the United States. The FDA is currently researching and evaluating the safety of CBD. In the meantime, its stance is that any product that adds CBD to food (like chocolate) or lists the item specifically as a “dietary supplement” is not available to be sold or transported across state lines.
Therefore, the legality of hemp-derived CBD products varies from state to state. Idaho and Nebraska are the only two states currently where all cannabis-derived products, including hemp-derived CBD products, are illegal. In states like Alaska, Colorado and Michigan, cannabis and related products are fully legalized; this means that as long as you meet minimum age requirements, you are able to easily access and purchase CBD products.
If you are unsure of the legalities in your state, we recommend checking your state’s laws before purchasing hemp-derived CBD products. Leafly provides up-to-date information on the legalities of CBD here: https://www.leafly.com/news/cbd/is-cbd-legal-state.
Not All CBD Oils Are Created Equal
On a molecular level, CBD is the same compound regardless of whether it’s derived from cannabis (marijuana), hemp or created artificially. However, there are many differences in the types of CBD products available on the market today.
CBD products come in many formats, including but not limited to tinctures, salves, serums, capsules and gummies. You’ve likely seen CBD bath bombs or sparkling water – it’s seemingly being added to just about anything and everything. One delivery method isn’t necessarily better than the other, it all depends on personal preferences, what your goals are with CBD and what ailment(s) you are looking to better.
Another distinction between types of CBD products is whether something is created from Full Spectrum CBD, Broad Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate. You can read more on that here.
Talk to your doctor
When it comes to CBD, talking to your doctor will be your best bet. While not all doctors are trained to provide information, depending on your state laws, they may be able to provide insight or recommend a specialist. Speak with your doctor before trying CBD, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or currently taking any medications.
If you had a total tl;dr moment and scrolled to the bottom, we’ll keep our recap short and sweet. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids that come with a number of potential therapeutic benefits. CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it will not invoke euphoria or the feeling of being high—THC is psychoactive. Think of it this way: THC is defined by what cannabis makes you feel, while the effects of CBD aren’t necessarily “felt”, but rather experienced.
The legalities around producing and purchasing hemp-derived CBD products varies by state. We recommend you check your state’s laws before making any moves. Not all CBD products are created equal, so it’s important to do your research before you buy. If you are unsure of how or where to start, your doctor may be a great starting point.
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