CBD vs THC – The Similarities & Differences Explained



A common assumption people tend to make when they first hear about CBD is that it must have some recreational qualities. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Unlike THC – which is the psychoactive component that gets one ‘high’, CBD simply doesn’t carry those effects.

It can be difficult for those totally outside of the cannabis/extracts scene to comprehend how two compounds derived from the same family of plants can have such contrasting characteristics. But they do – and science says so!

Before exploring the differences we ought to make something quite clear.

There’s plenty of debate about the potential health benefits that CBD (or the whole cannabis plant) may hold. None of this is scientifically or medically proven, so we will not mention any of these here.

Instead, our focus will be on why CBD ought to be treated as distinctive from THC.

What Makes For A Quality CBD Oil?

In order for CBD extracts to be legal in the UK, they must not contain more than 0.2% THC.

For this purpose, manufacturers strive to process their hemp plants as thoroughly as possible in order to filter out the THC.

There’s almost inevitably going to be a tiny trace left over in all products, but you’re not going to get remotely high.

Remember that the body actually has an endocannabinoid system – so trace elements are going to be present even in people who have never been within thousand miles of a joint!

Chemical Structures

The chemical structures of both CBD and THC.

Why Is Hemp Used?

This is a crucial difference and one of the reasons why you should never trust a product labelling itself as a ‘marijuana extract’ or such.

While both CBD and THC are indeed found in the cannabis plant, when it comes to hemp the there’s only a tiny amount of THC compared to CBD.

This is why quality hemp is used in the creation of most quality extracts.

There’s also the advantage that hemp has a wide variety of industrial uses, while the cannabis plant remains highly regulated in most countries.

How They Differ In The Body

CBD stimulates the receptors dotted around the body and can help to ‘stock up’ levels where there are not enough cannabinoids already present in the system. This is why there are indications that it may help people with all kinds of health issues.

On the other hand, THC is a psychoactive component and without question aims to directly affect the brain. This is by releasing dopamine alongside various other less significant hormones – which all combined causes the high.

While CBD can travel to receptors within the brain – or more accurately, the cannabinoids it contains can do so – it has zero such mind-altering properties.

No matter how much CBD isolate you ingest, you will never get remotely high.

Differences Between CBD and THC

Whilst CBD and THC ultimately derive from the same plant, they have opposite effects to each other.

What Are The Side Effects?

People react in different ways to both compounds.

Almost everyone will feel THC and it may in some cases lead to psychological problems. Combined with it often being smoked with tobacco and of course, there are other associated health risks. These are well-documented facts that have been supported by medical science for decades.

Yet CBD is entirely passive. It’s impossible to actually overdose on it because there’s no toxicity. This is one of the reasons why there are little or no side effects of consuming CBD oil.

Even people who unknowingly consume far more than their endocannabinoid system may need should experience no issues at all.

Excess intake simply becomes absorbed or expelled by the body much as excessive vitamins do.

Some people even give it to their pets. Doing this is a violation of Regulation 8 of the VMR and you could be prosecuted in the UK  – so it’s not something we recommend.

Final Thoughts

They may come from the same family but by no means are CBD and THC ‘peas in the pod’.

While they do share some basic botanical similarities when it comes to human use, they have near opposite applications and effect.

When it comes to CBD oils used as a health supplement, there is such effort to remove as much THC as possible from the end product that it really tells its own story.