What's the difference between CBD and THC?

What's the difference between CBD and THC?

Before you ever heard about CBD, you probably knew about THC, one of the most popular and most notable cannabinoids, with THC being most commonly associated with “weed” and producing a high. What you may not have known is that CBD and THC are two of over 400 different compounds within the cannabis plant, including numerous minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

With the legalization of industrial hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill, which makes it legal to buy and sell hemp derived products in all 50 states, you probably noticed the growing popularity of CBD and other cannabinoids, like CBN, CBG, delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC. 

With all of these different products and formulations, it can be hard to know where to start, so we wanted to break it down for you. If you are already using CBD or THC in your wellness routine or just curious to learn more, this article will explain the differences between CBD and THC and what you need to know to use the hemp plant to its fullest! 

CBD vs THC - The Basics 

To start, it’s important to know that both CBD and THC interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). As a refresher, the ECS is a network of receptors that sends messages throughout the body with one mission in mind: to maintain homeostasis (the feeling of feeling well). 

When consuming cannabinoids like THC and CBD, the cannabinoids influence the ECS depending on how their unique molecular structures fit into, bind to, or affect the individual receptors. Let’s use CBD and THC as an example and start showing how the two cannabinoids can differ in effects. 

Both CBD and THC have the same molecular structure of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, the two cannabinoids differ in how their atoms are arranged. That means each individual arrangement fits into, binds to, or interacts with the ECS’ receptors differently. 

The biggest difference is in the cannabinoid’s individual psychoactive effects. As we mentioned, the most abundant THC is delta-9, the THC that’s associated with producing a high or psychoactive effects. CBD, however, is non-psychoactive in effect, meaning you won’t feel a high or buzz, even though your mood could be uplifted. 

With that basic information covered, the next question is “What’s the difference between CBD and THC” when it comes to effects?


CBD vs THC Effects to Know 

Beyond the main difference of psychoactive vs. non-psychoactive cannabinoids, CBD and THC do have other differences in effects, while also sharing some similarities. 

Evidence suggests THC may be beneficial for mood, stress, and sleep. While much more research is needed to definitively conclude each cannabinoid's effects and optimal dosage, the research we do have shows promising results for a wide range of common conditions.

There are also many studies proving the efficacy of consuming CBD and THC together, especially in a 1:1 ratio. Studies show that the 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC can be effective at reducing discomfort. In fact, the only FDA- and pharmaceutical-approved form of cannabis, Sativex, has a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD. In clinical trials, Sativex has been effective at reducing severe pain and muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Taking CBD and THC together enables an "entourage effect," which means that the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes are stronger when taken together than when taken separately. Even more, studies are backing up what some consumers have experienced for years - that CBD lessens the psychoactive effects of THC. That means if there’s ever a time when you think you’ve consumed too much THC and are feeling intense psychoactive effects, consuming CBD can help. 

 Source: Goldleaf, full size image

Delta 8 vs Delta 9 THC 

By now, you may have also heard of delta-8 THC, even if it's just from the cannabinoid’s negative press in the news. But it’s crucial to understand that like CBD and THC, delta-8 and delta-9 THC differ in molecule structure and effects, too. Both delta-8 and delta-9 THC are psychoactive in nature, but differ in terms of intensity and strength of effects. 

THC’s psychoactive nature comes from its double bond on the 9th atom. In delta-8 THC, the double bond is on the 8th atom. Unlike delta-9 THC, research is minimal on delta-8 THC, but from what we know so far, this double bond placement affects the strength of the psychoactive effects. With many calling delta-8 “marijuana lite” or “diet weed”, since delta-8 is said to produce less of an intense psychoactive buzz.

Keep one thing in mind when deciding whether to consume Delta-9 THC or Delta-8 THC. Delta-9 THC from cannabis and hemp plants has been medicinally used for centuries, dating back to ancient civilizations. Delta-8 THC is a recent discovery from the CBD extraction process, is often made synthetically, and given the lack of regulatory oversight, has some chemists are concerned over its safety and use

So far, there has been very little research conducted on delta-8, while delta-9 THC has been heavily researched over the last century and is even approved for medical use in the majority of US states. 

Adding THC to Your Wellness Routines

Clearly, there’s a reason why THC use is on the rise, as it not only can produce beneficial effects on its own but also amplify CBD’s effects, too. If you’re interested in adding THC to your wellness routines, there are two ways you can easily do so, no matter legalization in your state. 

  • Use full-spectrum CBD - Because hemp plants naturally produce THC, full-spectrum CBD oils, edibles, and other consumables can also contain up to 0.3% THC. That means, you can get trace amounts of THC via CBD, and get both of the cannabinoids effects in one. 
  • Seek out legal THC - Even if you’re not in a legalized state, the 2018 Farm Bill allows for the sale of cannabinoids extracted from hemp plants - THC included. That’s why you’re seeing more and more delta 8 and delta 9 THC products on the shelves across the US and available online. 

Both CBD and THC cannabinoid effects are readily available in products like - 

No matter what, you should always do your research and make sure you're buying from a reputable, high-quality store. It helps to seek out where the hemp is grown, how the process is handled, and also verify the brand offers third party testing reports with every product. Especially when purchasing THC products, in light of the rise of delta-8 and unsafe retailers trying to make a quick buck on the trend. 

All Natural Wellness with CBD & THC 

Now that you know how THC can be just as therapeutically beneficial as CBD, you might be wondering, "How can I add these cannabinoid effects to my wellness routines?” You’re in the right place... Peaceful Lane not only sells high quality CBD products, but we recently launched our new CBD + THC lime and mint gummies!

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