THC vs. CBD: The Differences Explained

THC vs. CBD: The Differences Explained


As the use of natural medications rises, so does the interest in cannabis products. Cannabis and cannabis-derived products have become popular for their wide range of medicinal uses including pain relief, nausea relief, and anxiety relief. 

The two chemicals that have gained the most attention are CBD and THC. Many wonder what the difference is between CBD and THC. In truth, although they are both derived from cannabis, they both have very different effects on the human body. 

This article will cover everything from the chemistry, to the uses, to the legality, to the side effects of CBD and THC. Let’s compare these chemicals side-by-side so you can see the primary differences between them.

THC vs. CBD chemistry 

CBD and THC are two of the 100+ Cannabinoids found in cannabis. These two actually have the same exact chemical makeup. They are both composed of 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. 

While nearly identical, there is a tiny difference: the arrangement of just one single atom. This one atom which is one-millionth of the size of a human hair is what makes these two chemicals react so differently with the human body. 

CBD and THC bare a close resemblance to our bodies’ endocannabinoids. This is why CBD and THC are able to react with our cannabinoid receptors.

THC vs. CBD psychoactive effects

CBD, which is derived from hemp, does not have any psychoactive effects. What this means is that it does not produce a “high” feeling or cause any impairment. Instead, CBD is often known for helping those with anxiety disorders gain a more relaxed and clear mind. 

On the other hand, THC is derived from marijuana and it is indeed psychoactive. THC is the chemical in marijuana and marijuana-derived products known to give a high sensation. This is one of the major differences between THC and CBD. 

While hemp and marijuana are often confused, one major difference is that hemp contains less than 0.3% THC and marijuana can contain up to 30% THC. 

Because hemp can contain up to 0.3% THC, CBD oil products do often contain small amounts of THC. However, this small amount is not enough to cause any psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD blocks THCs effects on cannabinoid receptors which ensures you won’t feel a “high” feeling when using hemp-derived CBD. 

THC vs. CBD uses and benefits

CBD and THC have many of the same medicinal effects. However, most people prefer CBD since it allows you to reap the benefits while maintaining a clear head. It isn’t practical to use THC to combat a headache while you are clocked in at work—employers tend to frown on being high during business hours.

There are some differences in medicinal applications which you’ll notice as we compare THC and CBD. 

CBD can help with:

Chronic pain



Epileptic seizures

Anxiety disorders 


Sleep disorders including insomnia 


THC can help with:




Sleep disorders including insomnia 




THC vs. CBD side effects 

CBD and THC have very different side effects. CBD’s side effects tend to be mild and rare. Most of the side effects of CBD are due to interactions with other medications, so it’s important to consult your doctor before mixing CBD with any medications. Some side effects of CBD include diarrhea, tiredness, and weight change. 

The side effects that come along with THC are a bit more pronounced. Some of these side effects include red eyes, memory loss, impaired coordination, slowed reaction times, dry mouth, and increased heart rate. 

There are no reported cases of CBD or THC overdoses. However, the amount used can increase some side effects. THC use by adolescents has also been linked to developing schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

THC vs. CBD legality 

The legality of THC and CBD can be confusing. Some states require prescriptions, some have legalized both CBD and THC for medicinal and recreational use without a prescription, and others have strict laws prohibiting the use of any marijuana-derived products. 

The laws surrounding CBD are a bit different than the laws surrounding THC. This is primarily because of the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD-derived products are legal in all states without a doctor’s prescription. 

However, THC derived products are only fully legal without a prescription in 8 states including California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, and Alaska. There are four states in which marijuana-derived THC is illegal with or without a prescription. These states are Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.

THC, although legal in some states, remains on the official controlled substance list. CBD, on the other hand, is due to be removed from the controlled substance list altogether this year. This will give researchers a whole lot more freedom to learn about and experiment with CBD.

THC vs. CBD drug testing

Many ask whether or not they will fail a drug screening test if they use CBD or THC products. Many employers use drug tests to ensure their employees stay productive. Doctors also use drug tests to screen for any medications or drugs that may interfere with a prescription or procedure. 

So, will you fail a drug test if you use THC or CBD products? The answer: it depends. Employer drug tests do indeed check for THC. However, some employers do not care about THC usage—especially in states that have legalized marijuana. However, not all employer drug tests check for CBD. This is because CBD does not have a psychoactive effect so most employers don’t care. Of course, there are a handful that do.

As we talked about before, Hemp-derived CBD oils contain small traces of THC. However, even when taking large doses of CBD daily, it’s unlikely that the small amounts will show up on a drug test.

Doctors also do drug tests, but for different reasons. They want to ensure there will be no conflict between anything you have in your system and drugs they give to you. This type of drug test does screen for both CBD and THC.


As you can see, there are some major differences between THC and CBD. THC, which is derived from marijuana, will cause a high feeling. While CBD will not. CBD and THC both have some common health benefits. However, THC has far more and serious side effects. These side effects are the reason most people choose CBD over THC. 

Moreover, there are far more legal roadblocks when it comes to THC. Many states can still even fine or arrest those found with THC or marijuana. If you’re looking for a product that will benefit your health with little or no downsides, CBD is the right choice.


Due to FDA Regulations, we recommend that you do your own research on CBD products. We also suggest that you read the reviews on our website; where our customers record their real-world results of using our products.