chemical drawings of CBD and THC molecules next to each other for comparison

CBD vs. THC: What's the Difference?

As the popularity of CBD products skyrockets, people are becoming more curious about what CBD is, the ingredients in CBD products, and what the differences are between CBD and THC. To begin with, CBD, or cannabidiol, and THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, are two of the main cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants.

 Both hemp and marijuana are part of the cannabis species, or genus, of plants. Along with CBD and THC, both plants contain over 100 other cannabinoids as well as terpenes and other phytonutrients.And out of all those cannabinoids, it just so happens that CBD and THC are two of the most widely known and controversial ones. 

Sadly, there are still a lot of people who haven’t tried CBD products because of all of the confusion that’s created from the taboo surrounding the marijuana plant. In fact, there’s still some people who shy away from trying CBD because they don’t want to look rebellious or appear as if they are doing something illegal. 

What these people may not know is that hemp-derived CBD products are not only legal in the eyes of the federal government, but they’re also extremely popular among people of all ages and from all walks of life. In fact, the use of hemp-based CBD products has grown exponentially over the last few years.

What are CBD and THC?

CBD and THC are cannabinoids that are extracted from the hemp and marijuana plants. While THC causes euphoric “high” feelings when taken in large quantities, CBD does not. Under federal law, the 2018 Farm Bill specifically, all hemp-based CBD products are legal throughout the United States as long as they contain 0.3% or less THC. Luckily, the hemp plant is bred to naturally have low levels of THC, so it isn’t possible for anyone to get “high” from hemp-derived CBD products. 

A woman in her living room drips CBD oil from the dropper into the bottle.

Does CBD Have THC in it?

When asking this question, first clarify the difference between CBD and CBD oil. CBD is cannabidiol, one of the over 100 cannabinoids in the hemp plant. THC is another cannabinoid found in the same plant, but they are different compounds.

CBD oil is a liquid with CBD in it, and this liquid can include other cannabinoids if it’s made with broad spectrum or full spectrum hemp extract. Any full spectrum CBD oil will contain trace amounts of THC (under 0.3%). Broad spectrum CBD oil contains CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes with the exception of THC. Lastly, CBD isolate is a version of the cannabinoid without any other elements included.

Is CBD Psychoactive?

CBD is not psychoactive! It often gets roped in with its cousin- THC- and people think that since they come from the same plant, they both have the same properties. This is not the case, and the difference is, in fact, one of the defining characteristics of what has made CBD federally legal.

CBD vs. THC: Key Differences

The key difference between THC and CBD is that THC has psychoactive properties and CBD does not. Now when you get into deeper detail, there’s plenty more to learn about which receptors in your body work with CBD and which ones work with THC. But for most consumers, the main point is that CBD is legal and non-psychoactive. CBD’s effects are much subtler than those of THC. Rather than noticing any new sensations, it is more likely that CBD supports your system in a way that brings you back to baseline. 

A collection of colorful FAB CBD oil boxes

How are CBD and THC Similar?

CBD and THC are both cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis family of plants. Both marijuana and hemp plants contain these compounds, although the predominance of one or the other is different in each species. Hemp has a greater abundance of CBD and marijuana has much more THC. As compounds, they are both affected by heat, and should be stored in similar ways to maintain their natural chemical integrity. 

The Entourage Effect: How CBD and THC Work Together

Cannabinoids have been found to interact most effectively when used all together. This is the phenomenon called the entourage effect. Simply put, the human body tends to make the most out of a full cannabinoid profile, but can still interact with broad spectrum CBD and isolate products. Just like certain vitamins and minerals do best with the support of complementary nutritional elements, cannabinoids really shine when they support each other. 

Part of the entourage effect is the cannabinoids lowering each other’s negative effects while boosting one another’s positive ones. In the entourage effect, the CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to help keep THC from activating those receptors, thus stopping it from causing any unwanted effects like nausea.

When taken together, CBD and THC work with the body’s endocannabinoid system to help bring it back into a state of balance. Even though the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, can do this on its own, CBD products that contain CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids, phytonutrients, and terpenes can help give the system a boost.

A closeup of FAB CBD products including oils, cream, gummies and salve

What Types of Products are Made From CBD and THC?

CBD and THC have been put into so many products that it’s hard to list them all. From the beauty space to nutritional and supplement market, both of these cannabinoids can be found in a variety of shapes and forms. 

CBD is predominantly found in things like:

  • Soap, shampoo, lotion, cosmetics
  • Oils, gummies, vapes, capsules, pet treats

THC is often found in products like:

  • Gummies, vapes, flower or pre-rolled cones
  • Creams, lotions

Closing Thoughts: What’s the Takeaway?

Both CBD and THC (in low quantities) are considered safe and have very few and mild side effects linked to them. Regardless of the reason you have for using CBD products, you should always consult with your primary care doctor or medical specialist if you have any concerns or questions ahead of making CBD a part of your regular supplement routine. Likewise, before buying any CBD products or traveling through different states with your existing ones, it’s best if you look into state laws to make sure that it’s legal to use CBD in the state where you live or the state(s) you may be driving through. CBD products can make an excellent addition to any supplement routine as long as you make sure all of your questions are answered and you’ve taken all the time you need to do some thorough research on CBD, CBD brands, and CBD products.