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CBD Vs. THC: Comparing And Contrasting Cannabinoids


With the growing popularity of CBD and more and more states legalizing medical marijuana, it is only natural that consumers will have new questions. CBD is found primarily in extractions from the hemp plant, while THC is found primarily in medical marijuana. In this article, we discuss the differences between the cannabinoids CBD and THC, the differences between hemp and marijuana, psychoactivity and how to avoid getting “high”, therapeutic uses, and legality.

CBD Vs. THC: Comparing And Contrasting Cannabinoids

Scientist With Microscope, Credit: Stock Photography
Scientist With Microscope

With the growing popularity of CBD and more and more states legalizing medical marijuana, it is only natural that consumers will have new questions.

As the legal use of marijuana and other cannabis products grows, consumers are becoming more curious about their options. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two natural compounds found in plants of the Cannabis genus.

CBD is found primarily in extractions from the hemp plant. It’s sold in gels, gummies, oils, supplements, extracts, and more.

THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. It can be consumed by smoking marijuana. It’s also available in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more.

Both compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system but they have very different effects.

CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

Scientist Evaluating Hemp Plant, Credit: Stock Photography
Scientist Evaluating Hemp Plant

The Cannabis Plant: Hemp Vs. Marijuana

As stated above, both CBD and THC come from the same place, the cannabis plant.

CBD and THC are two of the most prominent cannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant. Both marijuana and hemp produce CBD and THC. However, marijuana has a higher concentration of THC. Hemp has a higher concentration of CBD. Because hemp contains more CBD than THC, it’s the ideal source for CBD oil.

The average marijuana strain today contains about 12 percent THC. CBD can have no more than 0.3 percent THC. CBD oil may contain small amounts of THC because it’s present in the hemp plant.

CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

Still unclear on hemp vs. marijuana? Let’s break down the differences. According to Jacqueline Jacques, a Naturopathic Doctor with almost 20 years expertise in medical nutrition, the differences are:

Hemp – A plant primarily cultivated outside the United States (although a few U.S. states allow it to be grown for research purposes) for use in clothing, paper, biofuels, bioplastics, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and foods. Hemp is cultivated outdoors as a large crop with both male and female plants being present to foster pollination and increase seed production.

Legally imported industrial hemp contains less than 0.3% of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In fact, legally imported hemp will usually specifically eliminate any extracts from the plant’s dried flowering tops.

Marijuana (Marihuana) – Cannabis sativa specifically cultivated to enhance its THC content to be used for medicinal or recreational purposes. Marijuana plants are typically grown indoors, under controlled conditions, and growers remove all the male plants from the crop to prevent fertilization since fertilization lowers the plant’s THC level.

Hemp vs. Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

While some CBD products can contain trace levels of THC, there are THC free, CBD products available. TheraJoy CBD topicals are a perfect example because TheraJoy uses CBD isolate, their product contains 99% pure CBD and 0% THC.

Woman Smoking A Joint, Credit: Stock Photography
Woman Smoking a Joint


THC is psychoactive, that’s fairly well known. It’s this psychoactive quality that makes a THC user feel “high”. However, CBD is not psychoactive like THC, so CBD won’t.

Because CBD oil is extracted from cannabis plants, a common misconception is that it will elicit a euphoric effect. But the truth is, CBD oil is completely non-psychoactive, so it will not adversely affect sensory awareness, consciousness, perception, or behavior.

Does CBD Oil Get You High?

Why not? While similar in chemical structure, CBD and THC work very differently.

Despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC don’t have the same psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound. That means it doesn’t produce the “high” associated with THC.

THC binds with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. It produces a high or sense of euphoria.

CBD binds very weakly, if at all, to CB1 receptors. In fact, it can interfere with the binding of THC and dampen the psychoactive effects.

CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

If you have concerns about accidental THC consumption or getting “high”, consider trying THC free, CBD topicals; pure CBD will never get you “high”.

Therapeutic Uses

Both CBD and THC can be used therapeutically.

Therapeutic Uses Of CBD

CBD can be used to treat:

Therapeutic Uses Of THC

THC, in the form of medical marijuana, can be used to treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Glaucoma
  • Insomnia
  • Low Appetite
  • Muscle Spasticity
  • Nausea
  • Pain

Please note these lists are far from comprehensive, and as new studies are completed, new uses are being discovered.

Gavel With Law Books, Credit: Stock Photography
Gavel with Law Books


The legality of CBD can be a little confusing, let’s try to clear things up:

The legality of cannabinoid products in the United States is dependent on their concentration and source.

Marijuana and THC are both specifically listed in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and therefore prohibited under federal law. Twenty-nine U.S. states and Washington D.C. have passed their own cannabis policies permitting the use of medical marijuana with high levels of THC, provided it’s recommended by a licensed physician. Eight of those states and Washington D.C. have gone a step further and legalized the recreational use of marijuana and THC.

CBD is legally available in the United States, but it must be derived from imported high-CBD, low-THC hemp. CBD itself it not listed under the Controlled Substances Act, so it’s legal in all 50 states provided it’s not extracted from marijuana.

What are the differences between CBD and THC?

Always check the latest rules and regulations for your area before purchasing because there have been some fluctuations.

If the legality of CBD can be confusing, the legality of THC doesn’t get much better. Federally speaking, THC is an illicit and illegal substance, yet:

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making the Golden State the first in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 30 more states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted similar laws. As of Jan. 22, 2018, the Vermont legislature passed adult-use legalization legislation and the governor signed the bill. The measure does NOT set up a regulatory for system for sales or production.

A total of 31 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs

State Medical Marijuana Laws

While both cannabinoids, CBD and THC, offer many therapeutic benefits, only CBD does so without the associated “high”. If you’d like to use CBD therapeutically and are looking for a THC free option, consider TheraJoy.

At TheraJoy, we have been making CBD products in the US for three years, and are proudly a market leader in topical CBDTheraJoy is always made with 99% pure CBD derived from medical grade, non-GMO hemp, sourced directly from Switzerland. We offer purity you can trust, guaranteed. Our product is all-natural, organic, vegan, gluten-free and kosher.

Remember, always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This blog post is not intended to be medical advice, but it is information you can use as a conversation-starter with your doctor at your next appointment.

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