CBD vs. THC: Benefits, Side Effects, Legal Status, Risks

As hemp and other cannabis products become more legal, customers are becoming more interested in what they can buy.

This includes the natural chemicals cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are both found in cannabis plants.

The endocannabinoid system in your body is affected by both substances, but their effects are not the same.

Read on to find out more about these substances. They have a lot in common, but there are also some big differences that change how they are used.

What is CBD?

CBD, which stands for “Cannabidiol,” is a hemp or cannabis extract. Hemp and cannabis come from the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD comes in a number of different forms, such as capsules, oils, candies, and gels.

CBD can be taken from any Sativa plant, and it doesn’t make you feel high like cannabis does. CBD is used for many therapeutic purposes, and it works in different ways.


It has been shown to stop seizures and ease pain and inflammation. CBD may also help with psychotic symptoms, pain caused by nerve damage, and anxiety. because it has antidepressant properties.

What is THC?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a chemical found in cannabis that can make you feel strong emotions. By smoking marijuana, you can get THC. But you can get it in capsules, oils, foods, tinctures, and other ways.

THC has a strong effect on the body and is used to treat nerve pain, nausea, glaucoma, pain from multiple sclerosis, and tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease.

THC is legal in some places and is used in medical marijuana, but the rules change all the time. Some places let people use THC-containing marijuana for personal use, but it is against the law in the US.

Differences Between CBD And THC

CBD vs. THC: Chemical structure

CBD and THC both have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms in their chemical structures. A small change in how the atoms are put together can explain why different things happen to your body.

CBD and THC are both chemically similar to the endocannabinoids that are already in your body. This lets them talk to the cannabinoid receptors in your body.

Your brain’s neurotransmitters are affected by the link. Neurotransmitters are molecules that send messages between cells. They help with things like pain, stress, immune system function, and sleep, to name a few.

CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive components

Even though CBD and THC have similar molecular structures, they don’t make you feel the same way. CBD can make you feel high, but not like THC does. It doesn’t give you the high that THC does.

THC sticks to the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. It gives you a high or makes you feel excited. Research suggests that this high might be stronger if the THC is breathed in instead of eaten.

CBD doesn’t really bind to CB1 receptors, if it does at all. CBD needs THC to bind to the CB1 receptor, which can help reduce some of the bad psychoactive effects of THC, like making you feel high or sleepy.

CBD vs. THC: Legality

The laws in the United States about cannabis are always changing. Under federal law, CBD is still considered to be a Schedule I drug.

Even though hemp is no longer in the Controlled Substances Act, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still consider CBD to be a Schedule I drug.

But 37 states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws about cannabis that make high-THC medical marijuana legal. A prescription for cannabis may be required from a licensed doctor.

Also, 19 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia have made it legal for adults to use cannabis and THC for recreational purposes.

CBD should be available in states where people can use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

Before trying to buy CBD or THC-containing products, you need to find out what the laws are in your state.

If you have cannabis-related items in a state where they are illegal or don’t have a prescription for them in a state where they are legal for medical use, you could get in trouble with the law.

CBD vs. THC: Medical benefits

CBD and THC are both good for your health in many of the same ways. They can help with a wide range of health problems.

CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t make you feel high like THC does. Some people may prefer to use CBD because it doesn’t have this side effect.


In June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, which is the first prescription drug with CBD. It is used to treat rare epileptic seizures that are hard to control. Epidiolex is not currently approved for any of the other conditions listed below.

CBD is used to treat a number of health problems, such as:

  • seizures
  • inflammation
  • pain
  • psychosis or mental disorders
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • nausea
  • migraine
  • depression
  • anxiety

According to 2020 researchTrusted Source, CBD may help with

  • social anxiety
  • schizophrenia
  • sleep disorders
  • post-traumatic stress disorders

The FDA has not yet said that it can be used in these ways. More research needs to be done to find out if CBD can help treat these and other illnesses. CBD is now being looked at as a possible treatment in clinical trials for:

  • mood disorders
  • chronic pain
  • inflammatory diseases
  • neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
  • tumors


The FDA has approved two different kinds of synthetic THC to treat certain illnesses.

The FDA has given Nabilone (Cesamet) a license to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

The FDA has given the green light for dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) to treat chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. It is also recommended for people with AIDS or anorexia who have trouble eating.

THC is often used to help with the following problems:

  • pain
  • muscle spasticity
  • glaucoma
  • insomnia
  • low appetite
  • nausea
  • anxiety

New information

Trusted Source is looking into whether THC could be used to treat the following:

  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic neuropathic pain

CBD vs. THC: Side effects

CBD is well tolerated, even when taken in large amounts.

According to a Research-Trusted Source, if using CBD makes you feel bad, it’s probably because CBD and any other prescriptions you’re taking interact with each other.This could cause damage to the liver.


The following things could go wrong with CBD:

  • appetite changes
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • dizziness
  • diarrhea
  • sleepiness and drowsiness
  • increased suicidal thoughtsTrusted Source

THC causes temporary side effects, such as:

  • increased heart rate
  • coordination problems
  • dry mouth
  • red eyes
  • slower reaction times
  • memory loss
  • anxiety
  • tiredness
  • confusion
  • distress
  • low blood pressure
  • seizures and seizure-like activity

These bad things happen because the compound is psychoactive.

Neither of these chemicals is dangerous.

On the other hand, taking in a lot of THC may have long-term negative effects on the mind. This could be especially true for teens who use THC a lot.

According to 2021 research from a trusted source, long-term cannabis use can create a motivational syndrome in which people experience symptoms of depression as well as decreased motivation.

According to the same study, cannabis use has been associated with psychosis, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders.

At the moment, there is no solid evidence that using cannabis leads to mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

CBD vs. THC: Drug testing

THC and CBD are cannabinoids that are stored in the body’s fat. They can be detected in drug tests for several days or weeks after use.

CBD cannot be detected by all drug tests; however, CBD-sensitive tests are available. THC or cannabis use may surface on a screening since most conventional drug tests check for compounds related to THC.

In the same way, hemp can make both THC and CBD, so you could test positive for THC even if you haven’t used it.

It’s important to know that things that say they are THC-free might not be. If you have a drug test, don’t use CBD or THC products.

Why do people talk about THC content in CBD oil if THC and CBD are two different compounds?

CBD and THC are two of the most visible cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Both cannabis and hemp can produce CBD and THC.

On the other hand, there is more THC in cannabis. Hemp has more CBD than other plants.

Prior to 2014, the average strain of cannabis contained about 12% reliable source THC.

According to research from 2020, the current values may be closer to 15% to 30% from a trusted source, but this could change depending on where you live.

Since there is a small amount of THC in the hemp plant, CBD oil may have traces of it. CBD that is legal at the federal level can’t have more than 0.3% THC in it.

CBD vs. THC Similarities

  • Whether it is CBD or THC, Both are found and obtained from the same Cannabis Plants.
  • Both have the same structure with 21 carbon atoms and 30 hydrogen atoms
  • Both compounds affect the  endocannabinoid system of the human body

CBD vs. THC Examples

CBD Examples

CBD is used in many different forms; examples are

  • CBD Oils
  • CBD-infused creams and lotions
  • Balms and tinctures
  • CBD topicals

THC Examples

There are the following examples through which THC can be used:

  • Inhaling the Vapor
  • THC-infused gummies and lemonades
  • THC tinctures


CBD vs. THC Pros and Cons

CBD Pros and Cons

Pros of CBD

  • CBD is a well-tolerated drug with no significant side effects, even if it is used in large doses.
  • CBD can be used to treat some medical conditions like nausea, pain, mental disorders, depression, and anxiety.

Cons of CBD

  • CBD can easily interact with other medications and cause some side effects, including liver damage.
  • Some side effects of CBD can even lead to sudden weight loss, appetite change, and diarrhea.

THC Pros and Cons

Pros of THC

  • Synthetic formulations of THC, including Nabilone and Dronabinol, are approved by FDA and used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy drugs.
  • THC also treats various medical conditions like muscle spasticity, pain, glaucoma, and insomnia.

Cons of THC

  • The psychoactive property of THC can cause long-term negative psychiatric effects.
  • A higher dosage of THC can result in various side effects, including memory loss, depression, nausea, red eyes, dry mouth, and increased heart rate.


CBD and THC are both made from the cannabis plant. Both of these chemicals can be very helpful when it comes to sleeping, relaxing, boosting your mood, and getting rid of pain.

But when it comes to CBD vs. THC, they are different in how they affect the body and how they can help people in different ways.

Furthermore, when the psychoactive effects of CBD and THC are compared, CBD lacks many of these effects. Some places allow both of these chemicals, but only with a prescription from a licensed doctor.

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