Difference Between CBD & THC

Difference Between CBD & THC

The debate on whether on not cannabis should be legalized still rages on and cannabis has received a lot of attention due to this. However, the focus is more on its constituent cannabinoids, i.e., Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabis has many cannabinoids, but most of the attention has been centered on the two compounds, i.e., THC and CBD partly because they are abundant in cannabis plants and partly because of the effects they produce when you consume them.

The vast majority of scientific studies into the medical applications of cannabis have centered around the two cannabinoids. From the perspective of a prospective or existing consumer, it is thus important to be fully knowledgeable of what the cannabinoids have to offer. It is essential to fully understand the differences that exist between the two and thus makes a decision to consume the cannabinoids that will best suit your needs. The following few paragraphs will explore the differences that exist between THC and CBD and cover a wide variety of aspects.

Psychoactivity Differences

The most apparent difference between THC and CBD is how they interact with the body once ingested. People now understand that THC is responsible for the euphoric “high” feeling, which is characteristic of ingesting marijuana. People also assume that CBD is not a psychoactive cannabinoid. One thing that people might not necessarily know is that the two cannabinoids are responsible for very different reactions.

The psychoactivity differences come down to how they interact with the endocannabinoid system and the cannabinoid (CB1) receptors in particular. THC binds incredibly well with CB1 receptors while CBD has an incredibly low affinity to the receptors. A more important aspect of the issue of differences is the effects of THC once it binds together with CB1 receptors.

THC activates and stimulates the receptors because it is a CB1 agonist. It is due to the THC mimicking the neurotransmitter anandamide, which is colloquially referred to as “the bliss molecule.” The neurotransmitter has been found to cause a blissful effect related to as the runner’s high. It has also been known to affect pain perception, enhance the pleasure derived from food, increase appetite, and even modify memory. THC can produce the same effect once it has activated the CB1 receptors.

Conversely, because CBD has a low affinity towards CB1 receptors, it doesn’t activate the receptors. It works to counteract THC’s effects and opposes THC’ influence and thus negative THC’s psychoactivity. This means that consuming cannabis that contains a higher CBD content can help reduce the extent of some of the psychoactive effects.

Molecular Structure Differences

THC and CBD are structural isomers that share the same chemical composition with the only difference being the atomic arrangement. The two share the same molecular formula (C21H30O2) and molecular weight (314.4g/mol.).

Just the atomic arrangement induces some differences, where in spite of being cyclic compounds, THC has a closed ring and an ester group while CBD has an open ring with an alkene group as well as a hydroxyl. The atomic arrangement differences account for the marked differences between the two.

Side Effect Differences

THC and CBD yield different effects even with the apparent differences in the interactions with the endocannabinoid system. For example, the side effects of THC include increased paranoia, red eyes, lowered reaction times, coordination problems, short-term memory impairment, and euphoria. The National Cancer Institute reckons that it is impossible to have a fatal THC overdose. However, according to the evidence, the consumption of THC in high concentrations during adolescence can help increase psychiatric disorders.

The side effects of CBD, on the other hand, are just the opposite of those of THC. As previously mentioned, it helps counteract THC thus reducing anxiety as well as short-term memory impairment of THC. However, it sometimes causes drowsiness and dry mouth in some people. Nonetheless, research has shown that CBD is safe for human consumption and it does not show any adverse clinical neurological or psychiatric effects.

THC Concentration in Marijuana and CBD Concentration in Hemp

Differences in concentration exist between marijuana and hemp. While the two plants are members of the same cannabis family, the strength of the cannabinoids varies in either plant. The concentration of THC in hemp is quite low at less than 0.3 percent. However, the concentration of CBD is incredibly high, which is why it is the ideal source for CBD.

Marijuana, which is mostly known for the high it induces once ingested contains THC in high concentrations. The least potent marijuana strain has over 3 percent THC concentration, which is far greater than that found in hemp. However, because marijuana strains have been cloned and manipulated to contain THC in higher levels, the average concentration of THC is 12 percent. In effect, ideal sources have real differences.

The Legal Status of CBD and THC

The legal status of both THC and CBD will vary considerably depending on the state and country that you are in. When it comes to the United States, the legal status of the cannabinoid product will depend on the concentration as well as the source. CBD from Industrial hemp, from a registered State farm under the 2014 Farm bill is legal in every state. States like Idaho and Indiana have state laws stating “Zero THC”.

Under federal law, marijuana and THC are specifically prohibited and listed in the United States Controlled Substances Act. Nevertheless, 29 states along with Washington D.C. have passed and implemented their policies permitting the usage of both for medical purposes. Also, a further eight states have passed their policies allowing THC or legalized consumption of THC for recreational purposes.

The legal status of CBD lies in the gray area since it is not listed in the Controlled Substances Act. Means that as long as it is not extracted from marijuana but high-CBD hemp, it is completely legal. In the past, the DEA has attempted to crack down on this product, but some of its actions have been challenged legally.

As such, if you would like to consume either of the two cannabinoids, it is important for you to make sure that you check your local laws and determine whether or not you will be breaking the law.