cannabis leaf in black color
  • February 2, 2023

    We are sure that some part of the general public is still in the dark regarding understanding the complete spectrum properties of the cannabis plant. Even though there are numerous questions yet to be answered, there has been enough scientific research to understand the plant’s chemical compounds and the influence of the plant on the human organism. Today, we will discuss the difference between the two most popular cannabis compounds: THC and CBD.


    The punchline of today’s blog refers to the difference between THC and CBD in terms of their properties, legality, and benefits.

    Let’s start by explaining THC and CBD separately before diving into the core of their similarities and differences. We’ll tackle these two in the simplest possible manner for everyone to understand.


    What is THC?

    Our favorite compound, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is the primary psychoactive compound found in the cannabis flower. THC is responsible for getting you high. There are a couple of ways for you to get THC in your organism and get high :

    -by smoking the flower in a joint or bong,

    -making edibles, aka cooking the THC into a meal, most often cookies, -and ingesting cannabis-infused products that can be bought and ordered in certain U.S. states.

    -THC is available in tinctures, oils, capsules, and more


    What is CBD?

    Moving on to the next best thing regarding the cannabis flower, CBD(cannabidiol).

    CBD can be extracted from both cannabis and hemp and greatly differs from THC. CBD does not possess psychoactive features, and therefore you won’t get high by consuming it. On the other hand, it has other benefits that we’ll gladly cover later.


    1. Chemistry

    So, first things first, let’s cover the basics and the million questions that relate to the scientific background of the cannabis plant and how things work.

    Although surprising, THC and CBD both have the same chemical structure  -30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. How is that possible if one compound will get you high while the other is not even near psychoactive? The answer is a difference in how these atoms are arranged. You can see in this example that even a small difference in how the atoms are arranged can make a big impact on the overall features of certain compounds.

    Moving on, did you know that both THC and CBD produce a similar effect to the compounds already contained in your organism? THC and CBD are similar to your body’s cannabinoids which allows them to interact with cannabinoids contained in your body.

    This interaction influences the release of neurotransmitters in your body, or, to be more exact, your brain. Neurotransmitters are responsible for sending and relaying messages between cells which has an important role in immune function, pain, sleep, stress, and more.


    2. Because I Got High

    All jokes aside, psychoactive properties are a deal breaker when differentiating the main features of THC and CBD. As we learned earlier, the arrangement of their atoms allows both THC and CBD to differ in that sense.

    Even though CBD is somewhat psychoactive (Inception moment here, we know), it’s not the type of psychoactivity that would produce a high. Let’s be clear: CBD will not get you high. THC binds to CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors, thus allowing you to get high. Note that the intensity of the high seems to be greater when inhaled than ingested.

    So, from the point of a stoner’s view, if you want to get high, you’re looking for THC flowers or products.

    On the other hand, CBD will not get you high but has other beneficial features.


    3. Medical Benefits of THC and CBD

    We’ll jump to the most important medical benefits of THC and CBD right away.

    Medical Benefits of THC

    With an emphasis on medical (since our goal is only to talk about science-backed-up data), only two synthetic formulations of THC are, for now, approved by the FDA:

    -Cesamet (Nabilone) for treating chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea.

    -Marinol (Syndros, Dronabinol) is approved to treat vomiting and nausea also caused by chemotherapy drugs. In addition, this synthetic formulation of THC is approved to treat anorexia and stimulate appetite in people with AIDS.

    Medical Benefits of CBD

    FDA approved Epidiolex in June 2018, which is the first prescription medication containing cannabidiol (CBD). It’s approved for the treatment of heavy epilepsy that cannot be easily controlled.


    4. Talking about Benefits

    Now that we’ve covered the medical benefits of THC and CBD and approved prescription medication containing the two, it’s time to talk about general benefits that are yet to be explored in the future.

    THC Benefits

    -muscle spasticity






    -chronic neuropathic pain


    -obstructive sleep apnea

    CBD Benefits

    -social anxiety





    -sleep disorder

    -chronic pain

    -mood disorders

    -personality disorders


    A quick overview of the benefits, downsides, and the gray area regarding THC and CBD

    a picture showing benefits and downsides of using THC and CBD in green, black and white


    5. Legalization

    Here we are, talking about a very controversial topic that is still not clarified. Being a very complicated issue, legalization was bound to happen at some point. Modern society does not stand for bureaucracy. Legalization has always somewhat been present, but in the recent period, more and more states have jumped on the legalization train. Although cannabis is not legal on the federal level, more than 37 states, including Washington D.C., passed cannabis-related, allowing the presence of a high concentration of THC in cannabis.

    Although hemp has been removed from CSA (Controlled Substance Act), DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) classify CBD as a drug.

    Furthermore, two territories, 21 states, and even the District of Columbia made adult recreational use legal. More states are considering coming forward.


    In our blog, we focused on the laws and research conducted and applied to the US. Stay tuned for more interesting topics as we discover interesting aspects of our favorite plant-cannabis.