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CBD vs. THC: A Cannabinoid Comparison

A title card that reads "CBD vs. THC."

RA Royal |

CBD and THC are the dominant cannabinoids in today's market. While their chemical structures are similar, they produce vastly different effects. Both have significant potential benefits for their users, but what differentiates them? Read our CBD/THC Cannabinoid Comparison guide to learn more.

CBD and THC: Their Chemistry and Origins

Both THC and CBD have the same quantity of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms; they are arranged differently, however, which accounts for their vastly differing effects on the body's endocannabinoid system. Both compounds exist in hemp and cannabis: Hemp predominantly produces CBD and minute amounts of THC, while other cannabis plants are the opposite. They have THC as their primary cannabinoid while containing a minimal amount of CBD.


CBD and THC: Cannabinoid Effects in the Body, Compared

CBD and THC, like all cannabinoids, cause their effects in the body by binding to receptors in our endocannabinoid system (ECS): a network of chemical signals and cellular receptors that regulates almost every aspect of our moment-to-moment existence. There are two types of ECS receptors:

  • CB1: These exist primarily in the brain, and act to regulate our mental state. THC bonds to CB1 primarily, causing the euphoric high associated most commonly with cannabis. CBD does not bond well to CB1 receptors unless THC is also present. 
  • CB2: These receptors are nestled in immune system tissues and regulate bodily responses such as inflammation. CBD bonds strongly to these, without causing a significant shift in mental state.


The Legal Status of THC vs. CBD in the USA

The United States, prior to 2018's Farm Bill, did not allow the cultivation of industrial hemp plants (the source of all federally legal CBD). Both hemp and cannabis have a long and tangled history of legal struggles in the USA, with every state having varying laws concerning its use. On December 6, 2012, Washington became the first U.S. state to completely legalize THC-dominant cannabis. As of 2022, CBD is no longer a part of the Controlled Substances Act, but some states regulate or restrict its use. For a comprehensive guide to the legality of CBD and THC in the USA, please consult this link.


CBD and THC both have their uses, sources, and even different laws governing their use. However, the fact remains that cannabinoids are an ancient and beneficial set of compounds that humanity is still working to fully understand. We hope that our CBD/THC Cannabinoid Comparison has helped you.


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