CBD vs THC – A Comparison

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The legal status of cannabis products are evolving over the years, increasing the curiosity of people about the cannabis options they choose. Two of the most popular cannabis compounds are CBD and THC that are found in the plants of cannabis family like hemp and marijuana.

Although hemp and marijuana both belong to the cannabis family, they differ in terms of THC content in them. Hemp contains less than 0.3% CBD while marijuana contains higher levels of THC that has intoxicating properties.

In this session, we make a comparison between CBD and THC.

Chemical Structure

In terms of molecular structure, CBD and THC are similar as their molecular structure is exactly same. Both molecules have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms. The compounds differ in terms of the arrangement of the atoms in the molecule that confers differing properties to the molecules.

The structural similarities of CBD and THC to the endocannabinoids of the body facilitate the interaction of CBD and THC with the cannabinoid receptors in the body. The interaction of the compounds with the cannabinoid receptors leads to the release of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that play a role in immune function, regulation of pain sensation, mood, appetite ,sleep etc.

Psychoactive Effects

There is no denying that CBD and THC have the same molecular structure but the psychoactive effects of the compounds aren’t the same. CBD is non-psychoactive whereas THC is a psychoactive compound that can produce a euphoric effect termed as a high by binding with the CB1 receptors in the brain.

CBD has very low affinity to the CB1 receptors and they influence the body functions by influencing the response of the cannabinoid receptors, and not by directly binding to the receptors. Studies have suggested that CBD use can interfere with the binding of THC to the cannabinoid receptors and dampen the euphoric effect THC produces.

Legality

Cannabis laws in the US are evolving regularly but marijuana and THC still belong to the list of Federal Controlled Drug Substances indicating that they are prohibited as per the federal law. The legal status of CBD is different from that of THC because the US Farm Bill passed in 2018 removed CBD from the list of Federal controlled Drug Substance assigning it a legal status.

As the Farm Bill recognized CBD as an agricultural product, the production and sale of CBD is legal in the US even though the CBD laws might see some differences according to the state that you are in. Legal status of CBD is closely connected to the THC content in the CBD product. If the THC content in a CBD product is more than 0.3%, it will be declared illegal.

When it comes to the legality of THC, some states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and THC, indicating that keeping specific amounts of THC and marijuana is no longer a criminal offense in those states.

Source

CBD and THC are compounds that can be extracted from hemp as well as marijuana but the plants differ in terms of the concentration of these compounds. Marijuana is a THC rich compound while hemp is a CBD rich compound, indicating that THC products are made by extracting THC from marijuana whereas CBD products are derived from the hemp plant. CBD can be derived from marijuana too but the THC content in that CBD product will definitely be higher than the permissible levels of THC (0.3%) in a CBD product as per the legal regulations.

Medical Benefits

CBD and THC provide almost same medical benefits but CBD is preferred more due to its non-psychoactive nature that alleviates the worries of getting a high. In 2018 FDA approved Epidiolex, the CBD medication used for treating epilepsy and until now, it is the only FDA approved CBD medication.

CBD is efficient in treating the following medical conditions.

THC is efficient in treating pain, muscle spasticity, low appetite, insomnia, nausea etc.

Parameter CBD THC
Legality Legal Federally controlled
Chemical structure Same as THC Same as CBD
Psychoactive effect Non-psychoactive Psychoactive
Source Mainly hemp Marijuana

CBD and THC are two active cannabinoids in cannabis plants that have been historically famous for their therapeutic benefits.

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