When we think about the cannabis genus, two chemical compounds usually come to mind: CBD and THC. Yes, both of these compounds are derived from the same plant, but they are quite different in how they behave when we consume them.
WHAT DO CBD AND THC HAVE IN COMMON?
Before we shed light on the differences between CBD and THC, allow us to first explain their similarities.
#1: BOTH ARE CANNABINOIDS
CBD is short for cannabidiol, and THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. Both of these compounds are cannabinoids, which are compounds that are unique to the cannabis genus. Cannabinoids are compounds that have the ability to bind to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body to support regulatory actions to take place, which balance the functionality of bodily systems.
Cannabinoid receptors belong to the endocannabinoid system, which exists in all mammals. This system maintains homeostasis by sending cannabinoids to where they need to go in order to keep the body in a state of equilibrium. This unique process explains why cannabinoids seem to produce effects in such a widespread, systemic way.
#2: BOTH EXIST IN THE HEMP PLANT
Both CBD and THC are found in the hemp plant. They are also present in the marijuana plant in different levels.
#3: THEY MAY SHARE SOME PROPERTIES
CBD and THC may have some properties in common, like properties that may help one focus better or feel more blissful. They may be capable of easing various forms of tension, which is why both are commonly used for the same specific purposes.
HOW ARE CBD & THC DIFFERENT?
Now, we can talk about the key differences between these two popular cannabis-derived compounds, as it is their differences that must be paid attention to when seeking to include hemp into your daily routine.
#1: ONE IS PSYCHOACTIVE
As most know, THC is a psychoactive compound, meaning that it can get you high. In the chemical composition of the hemp plant, there’s not enough THC to produce a high, but in marijuana, there is a far higher percentage. THC is present in about 0.3% of hemp’s chemical composition, being a minor cannabinoid, while CBD makes up somewhere around 15 to 20% of the plant. In marijuana, about 15 to 25% THC, for the sake of comparison.
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, so even in exceedingly high doses, you cannot get high off of it. Therefore, many people who abstain from THC have no issues whatsoever with taking CBD daily.
#2: THEY WORK ON DIFFERENT CANNABINOID RECEPTORS
We explained how cannabinoids work in the body, by binding to specific cannabinoid receptors to regulate various bodily tasks. Well, different cannabinoids bind to different cannabinoid receptors. Both of these cannabinoids bind to a combination of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body, but ultimately, the specifics of this binding process determine why they affect us in different ways.
#3: ONE IS LEGAL
As you may already know, only one of these two compounds is legal according to federal law, and it is CBD. THC remains a federally illegal substance, which explains why hemp is legal and marijuana is not. We said earlier that the trace amount of THC in hemp is non-psychoactive, and that’s why the government had passed the 2018 Farm Bill. Marijuana is still a classified substance due to its intoxicating effects.
Of course, in recent years, some states have legalized marijuana, but still, in a good majority of states throughout the country, its usage is not permitted.
#4: ONE CAN CAUSE YOU TO FAIL A DRUG TEST
CBD will not cause you to fail a drug test. First of all, standard urine tests don’t even look for CBD. Still, THC results in a failed drug test because it triggers the release of a metabolite in the body known as THC-COOH. Drug tests are looking for the presence of this metabolite, rather than trace levels of the cannabis plant itself. Cannabidiol does not trigger this metabolite in any way, and therefore, taking cannabidiol will not interfere with your employment if you are someone who gets tested periodically.
#5: THEY ARE DOMINANT IN DIFFERENT PLANTS
CBD is the dominant compound in the hemp plant, and THC is the dominant compound in the marijuana plant. What we mean by this is that in each of their respective plants, CBD and THC exist in much higher levels than any of the other hundreds of compounds that exist in the plant material. This is largely why the hemp plant is mainly associated with cannabidiol, and the marijuana plant is mainly associated with THC, despite both plants having remarkably diverse chemical compositions.
#6: ONE CAN BE GIVEN TO PETS
CBD can be given to pets, while THC cannot. As we said, all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, which means that our furry companions can use CBD in the same way that we do. In fact, a lot of companies now make CBD products, especially for pets. CBD is non-toxic to dogs and cats, and it also will not get them high.
THC, on the other hand, is dangerous for pets. Getting a pet high can result in dangerous effects on their nervous system and can cause psychological problems. You should NEVER give your pet THC under any circumstances, as this is highly unethical and can result in serious problems.
If you do wish to administer your pet CBD, however, you can talk to your veterinarian about the best way to start them on a routine.
Both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) come from the cannabis genus, but as you can see, they behave in vastly different ways in the body. Primarily, THC is illegal in a handful of states and psychoactive, while CBD is legal and non-intoxicating. Therefore, if you would like to explore the cannabis plant’s many unique properties, the best option is to do so with CBD, which can feed the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce a variety of desirable effects.