Before tackling their differences, let’s first focus on the similarities between THC and CBD. Learning how CBD and THC are similar will help you get a better grasp on their differences so that you can make the most of your cannabis journey.
Both CBD and THC belong to a family of compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are found in plants and our bodies. Cannabinoids from plants like cannabis are usually called phytocannabinoids while those produced by the body are called endocannabinoids.
Specific phytocannabinoid content varies widely per cannabis strain. Researchers believe there are over 80 cannabinoids found in cannabis, though THC and CBD are by far the most relevant due to their properties and benefits.
Difference Between CBD and THC
CBD and THC are composed of the same 53 atoms: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The only difference in their chemical makeup is the arrangement of a single atom. This tiny difference is responsible for how THC and CBD interact with our immune and nervous systems.
Both CBD and THC interact with our immune and nervous systems; however, they affect each system differently. CBD has soothing and calming effects capable of treating many conditions like sleep problems, pain, and anxiety. THC has similar wellness benefits but stronger sedative effects resulting from the “high” it produces.
While many use these three terms interchangeably, they each refer to a different type of plant. Technically, cannabis refers to a genus in the plant family known as Cannabaceae. Hemp and marijuana are merely two different varieties of cannabis.
By definition, hemp is rich in CBD and has very low THC contents (0.3%), which is why industrial hemp is legal nationwide. In contrast, marijuana is abundant in THC but contains insignificant amounts of CBD.
The CBD in CBD products is usually obtained through a careful extraction process that removes all unwanted substances from the plant like solvents, metals, and THC. As a result, CBD hemp oil will not cause a “high” or anything close to it. CBD is purely medicinal, and if used correctly, it can help users with a number of conditions like anxiety, sleep problems, and fatigue.
Full spectrum CBD describes CBD extracts that contain other cannabinoids including trace amounts of THC. Full spectrum CBD combines the effects of cannabidiol and other cannabinoids to deliver a potent solution that many believe are more efficient than CBD alone. If full spectrum CBD oil is extracted from hemp, then its THC content will not surpass 0.3%, meaning it won’t cause any psychoactive effects.
Since THC is the psychoactive element in cannabis, drug tests just check for THC content in your bloodstream. Drug tests, like the ones administered at work, only check for high rates of THC, not CBD. So if you are considering a CBD regimen, there is no reason to feel intimidated by the possibility of random drug tests in the workplace.
If CBD and THC work together well is up to your definition of what well means. CBD is known to diminish the psychoactive effects of THC by inhibiting the same receptors THC interacts with. If the psychedelic effects of THC are too strong for your liking, CBD can help make your high a more pleasant experience.
CBD won’t “cancel out” the effects of THC. CBD simply reduces the effects and feelings associated with the high of THC. Additionally, CBD oil will not eliminate traces of THC from your system, so if you have consumed THC, it is likely it will show up on drug tests regardless of whether or not you mixed it with CBD.