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cbd compared to thc

Cbd compared to thc

CBD and THC, the two main chemicals found in the cannabis plant, both have potential health benefits. However, research on both is extremely limited, since hemp (containing CBD) was federally illegal until 2018, and marijuana (containing THC) remains federally illegal.

THC, the abbreviation for the compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive chemical unique to the cannabis plant. When a person ingests THC — which can be done by smoking cannabis or eating products containing THC — THC activates the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

Overall, THC is a safer compound than many other drugs like nicotine or opiates, Piomelli says.

Under federal law, marijuana and thus THC remains a schedule 1 substance with no accepted medical use. However, research indicates that THC also has medical benefits, which has led at least 35 states and Washington D.C. to legalize its medicinal use. Medical benefits include:


“In states that have both recreational and medicinal programs, the difference between the two generally only extends to the amount that can be purchased at one time, and how high the taxes are on the product,” he says. “The cart is very much before the horse right now in terms of the medical marijuana industry.”

The root of the distinction comes down to a simple fact, Piomelli says: “THC is intoxicating and produces the high, stoned feeling associated with marijuana [when consumed in toxic amounts]. CBD is not intoxicating. It’s not psychotropic. It doesn’t have any of the strong mental effects that THC has.”

With CBD no effect has been demonstrated on the neurotransmitter dopamine, however, THC has been shown to impact dopamine levels, which may lend to its psychoactive effects. CBD has no psychoactive effects, Piomelli says.

What is THC?

“The claims of therapeutic applications of both CBD and THC far outpace actual peer-reviewed research,” he says. “CBD is essentially an anti-inflammatory, and while it has shown promise in several areas related to inflammation reduction, most of its purported uses are unvalidated.”

However, there are concerns about the long-term use of THC, particularly during the teen years. For example, frequent THC use can increase mental health issues, especially in people already at risk. Pregnant and nursing moms should also avoid cannabis because the effect on fetuses and babies hasn’t been studied, Piomelli says.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), THC activates the brain's reward system by signaling the release of the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood and pleasure. By triggering a higher-than-normal release of dopamine, THC causes people to experience feelings of euphoria. THC is often administered by smoking marijuana, but it can also be found as an ingredient in capsules, edibles, and oils.

What Is THC?

While CBD can come from either hemp or marijuana, it is often derived from hemp in order to avoid the addition of larger amounts of THC. THC, on the other hand, is derived from marijuana.


Cannabis contains over 113 different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of chemical compounds derived from cannabis. In recent years, interest has grown in the potential health effects and benefits of cannabis. Much of this interest has centered on these two cannabinoids.

Cbd compared to thc

Both CBD and THC have been shown to help manage sleep troubles and physical pain. CBD specifically is often used to alleviate stress and anxiety as well.

Legality can get sticky, however, thanks to varying state laws regarding both cannabis and hemp. As of November 2021:

Therefore, CBD and THC bind differently with the receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps modulate the central nervous system, synaptic plasticity (how neurons communicate with each other) and the body’s response to external stressors.

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Potential Benefits

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CBD can be derived from any type of cannabis sativa plant, but it’s legal throughout the U.S. only when it comes from hemp specifically—an important distinction explained in greater detail below.

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Due to competing state and federal laws and evolving regulations, cannabis products also tend to be mislabeled, leading to further confusion. One study analyzed 84 CBD products and found 69% of them either overstated or understated their concentrations of CBD. Further, 21% of the products contained THC without labeling them as such [1] Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online.. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708–1709. .

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