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CBD vs. THC – Helping You Choose Your Favorite Cannabinoid

Cannabis is gaining momentum as a wellness trend. Preclinical studies have shown it can help treat epilepsy, depression, anxiety, inflammation, and can make living with cancer much more bearable.

One of the hemp plant’s substances – CBD or cannabidiol – is causing the most hype. Today we can find it almost anywhere – from food and drinks, through decorative cosmetics, to oils and topicals that can be purchased legally in physical or online stores. 

The situation is a bit different with THC, the second of the two predominant cannabis compounds. That’s why there’s often a comparison between these two cannabinoids – the CBD vs. THC argument.

But let’s back up a bit. 

Cannabinoids 101

Cannabinoids are active organic chemical compounds that affect cannabinoid receptors in the human body. 

There are two types of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids, which the human body produces, and phytocannabinoids, which are of plant origin and are generally referred to as cannabinoids. 

The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD, which is not psychotropic and has many positive effects on the human body, and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is psychoactive. 

You can read more about the CBD vs. THC dichotomy on AskGrowers.

The hemp plant contains at least 85 other cannabinoids with different properties.

Cannabinoids are found primarily in the resin, part of the plant that protects hemp flowers. 

Most studies today focus on CBD and THC. Do you know what the essential difference between these two cannabinoids is? Basically, it’s the high.


The main difference between CBD and THC is in the effects they have on a person. This depends on how these two cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) – a unique body system made of cellular receptors that regulates such areas of life as sleep, appetite, and our immune system.

CBD does not directly interact with the ECS, while THC does. 

So, as we said, cannabidiol is not psychoactive – it does not change human consciousness. Recent studies have shown that CBD inhibits consciousness changes by inhibiting the activation of CB1 receptors. That means that when both CBD and THC are taken together, CBD can reduce the psychotropic effects of THC by suppressing CB1-activating properties, thus protecting consumers from excessive intoxication.

This cannabinoid has a greater effect on CB2 than on CB1 receptors, which explains its positive effect on the human immune system. It is the most abundant in cannabis varieties with low THC content.

On the other hand, THC is the primary psychoactive component in hemp. It mimics the function of the hormone anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced by the human body. The most well-known effect of using weed – the high – is caused by THC binding to CB1 receptors in the brain. 

But THC also provides some health benefits. It can relieve pain, inflammation of the nerves, and promote nerve growth. Studies have also shown it can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. THC affects CB1 and CB2 receptors approximately the same. 

More Differences, Pros and Cons

Without going into scientific details, CBD and THC can have the same chemical composition, but their atomic structures are different. Both are considered cyclic compounds, which means that one or more atoms in the compounds join to form a ring. CBD has an open ring, while THC has a closed ring.

Why is that important? It is this arrangement of atoms that shows they interact differently with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system.

CBD is widespread in hemp; THC dominates other cannabis varieties.

Both THC and CBD are natural constituents of cannabis plants, but CBD is found in large quantities only in industrial hemp, and a larger percentage of THC is found in other cannabis varieties. Some marijuana strains have 20-30% of THC, and they provide strong intoxicating effects.

In order for the cannabis plant to be classified as hemp, its THC content cannot exceed 0.3%.

Many doctors passionately believe in the wonderful properties of CBD oil. People increasingly use it to ease social anxiety and panic attacks, as research has suggested. 

THC, on the other hand, can exacerbate anxiety and increase paranoia in some people. 

The Cannabinoids’ Legal Status

The cannabinoids’ medical potential certainly sounds great and makes people want to try these “alternative” methods of healing. But there’s one tiny obstacle – the plant’s legal status.

The legality of cannabis for medical use and as a food supplement varies by country. Cannabis laws in different parts of the world provide different conditions for storage, distribution, cultivation, and consumption, as well as medical indications for its use.

The use of cannabis for pleasure is still prohibited in most countries, though more and more are adopting decriminalization regulations, which means that in those countries simply owning cannabis is not a criminal offense.

Other countries have more severe penalties. For example, in some parts of Asia, possession of cannabis is punishable by imprisonment for several years. In most countries in the Middle East, possession of even a small amount of a substance can result in more severe punishment. In the USA, cannabis legality varies from state to state.

Countries that have actually legalized marijuana and medical cannabis are Canada, Georgia, Spain, and Uruguay. Nine US states and the District of Columbia also legalized the 

use of marijuana for relaxation and enjoyment.

It may come as a surprise for many people that marijuana hasn’t been legalized in the Netherlands. Possession of marijuana there is still illegal, only certain bars with licenses can store and sell it.

The list of countries that legalized cannabis for medical purposes is much larger. These countries include:

Australia Austria Argentina Belgium Britain (permitted in cases of severe nausea caused by chemotherapy or multiple sclerosis, with a doctor’s prescription.) Canada Chile Colombia Germany Greece Israel Italy Netherlands Peru Poland United Kingdom

In the United States, 31 states and the District of Columbia legalized medical marijuana. When it comes to hemp, CBD and CBD products, the situation is a bit brighter. 

Hemp products (that have less than 0.3% THC) are legal in all 50 US states, while in Europe CBD products cannot contain more than 0.2% THC. This rule applies to all countries of the European Union.

The 2018 U.S. Farm Act legalized the production and sale of hemp, and now, as a result, cannabis consumer products, such as oils, vape cartridges, and cannabis flowers for smoking can be legally purchased in specialist stores, department stores, and online stores all over the USA.

Types of CBD Products

Since CBD is legal across all U.S. states, there’s been a real boom of CBD products lately. Here’s what users can most commonly find in CBD or wellness stores.


CBD as oil is the most popular form of CBD currently available. It can be taken orally or used topically, depending on your needs.

Vaping Products

CBD e-liquid is a “vaping product” that is inhaled through a vaporizer as vapor. This method allows users to quickly absorb CBD through the lungs.


CBD oil or powder can be added to everyday foods. This consumption of CBD provides the same benefits as other forms, and it’s especially attractive to people who are opposed to inhaling smoke.


These are CBD drops. For oral administration, a few drops are placed under the tongue for 90 seconds. These drops can be combined with other extracts.


Creams with CBD or topicals are gaining popularity for the treatment of unwanted skin conditions, to reduce signs of skin aging, and relieve muscle pain.


Capsules make CBD consumption very simple and can be combined with other beneficial supplements to ensure maximum health benefits without lifestyle changes.


Though the use of cannabinoids is still illegal in many countries, interested consumers always find ways to get their hands on their favorite CBD/THC strains, so it’s the cannabis advocates’ job worldwide to finally make this amazing plant fully legal. 

In the meantime, let’s keep exploring the amazing properties of cannabinoids and learn how they can best improve our individual condition.

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