Wondering about the difference between CBD vs. THC? These two components of the Cannabis sativa plant are widely used in a variety of ways ranging from therapeutic to industrial to recreational. After decades of prohibition, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substance Act and legalized the production of this long-maligned plant. But beyond that, you may have some questions.
We’ve created this overview to explain the difference between two commonly referenced substances that are derived from plants in the Cannabis genus: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In this article, we’ll cover what they mean, what they do, and how they’re used.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound that can be extracted from both industrial hemp and marijuana plants. It is one of over a hundred active compounds, or cannabinoids, found exclusively in plants from the Cannabis genus, and is known for its therapeutic properties.
CBD is a major component of most Cannabis plants, accounting for up to 40% of the total phytochemical breakdown depending on the strain and growth environment. Unlike its counterpart THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it will not get you high.
What is THC?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is another active compound found in plants from the Cannabis genus, but it is much more concentrated in marijuana plants. THC is best known as a psychoactive substance that can cause temporary changes in mood.
What is the Difference Between Industrial Hemp and Marijuana?
Both industrial hemp and marijuana plants are part of the Cannabis sativa species; the difference is that they have been cultivated differently. Industrial hemp is bred to have a low concentration of THC and a high concentration of CBD, while marjiuana is bred to have a higher concentration of THC. Here’s a primer with more information about how each plant is typically cultivated and used.
CBD vs. THC: Legality
As part of the Farm Bill in December 2018, Congress made industrial hemp a legal agricultural commodity in all 50 states. This means that it’s legal to grow and process Cannabis if it has less than 0.3% THC.
However, strains of Cannabis with levels of THC higher than 0.3% are not yet legal at the federal level. Many states have passed legislation to legalize medical and adult recreational marijuana use, but policy varies greatly from state to state. Cannabis-related laws in the U.S. are evolving regularly, so make sure to check for information about what’s legal in your state.
CBD vs. THC: Pharmacological Differences
Most mammals have an endocannabinoid system, which is a system set up to interact with cannabinoids that their bodies produce naturally. Humans are one of those mammals, and observing the interactions between cannabinoids on this bodily system yields interesting results as it relates to CBD and THC. External cannabinoids like those found in marijuana affect our brains and bodies by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and endocannabinoid system that influence a multitude of sensory inputs such as pleasure and have an influence on mental functions such as perception, acuity, and concentration.
When THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in our brain, it disrupts the normal functions of these pathways that influence our perception, moods, etc., and cause what we refer to as the ‘high’. Aside from this, THC also activates our reward feedback loop in our bodies, which stimulates the brain to produce higher amounts of dopamine, one of a few chemicals that contribute to the feeling of pleasure in our body, which also reinforces the repeated use of THC by telling your body that it is a beneficial chemical that binds and provides pleasure.
When CBD binds to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, it does not have this same effect where we experience a high to any extent. CBD may act as an indirect antagonist for THC when used together, which is why the benefits of THC are often reported as augmented when used in conjunction with CBD.
So what does all of this mean? How do I know if I need THC or CBD? The most simple answer is that it is a personal matter based on how your body reacts to each chemical, as no two people will react the same to any one chemical. To determine what works best for you, do a little bit of digging and testing with our products here at Upstate Elevator, and consult with a naturopath or licensed physician to determine if CBD is right for you! We have a wide variety of CBD products available, including tinctures, gummies, capsules, and much more.