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Marijuana THC and CBD, What’s the Difference?

CBD has gained much traction over the past few years. You may have noticed it on the shelves at your local grocery store or seen it covered more frequently in the media. Although the popularity of CBD is on the rise, many people in the U.S. are still unable to distinguish the differences between marijuana THC and CBD. According to an Invisibility Realtime Research Survey, of 1,087 U.S. adults, more than half (58%) did not know the difference between CBD and THC-containing products such as marijuana

What is CBD?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is one of the main cannabinoids (a chemical compound found in cannabis) in the cannabis sativa plant.

The cannabis sativa plant is broken out into three types based on the amount of THC and CBD contained in the plant.

Type 1: Cannabis Sativa contains more than 0.3% THC and less than 0.5% CBD

Type 2: Cannabis Sativa contains more than 0.3% THC and 0.5% CBD

Type 3: Cannabis Sativa contains less than 0.3% THC and more than 0.5% CBD

According to the classifications, Type 1 and Type 2 are considered marijuana, while Type 3 is considered hemp. CBD is derived from the hemp plant, which is the cousin of marijuana.

What is THC?

THC stands for Delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and is a cannabidiol found in the cannabis sativa plant. THC activates the brain’s reward system by signaling the release of dopamine, a type of neurotransmitter that your body makes. Dopamine plays a vital role in mood and the sense of pleasure. THC increases the amount of dopamine, which creates the high and euphoric feeling people often associate with marijuana.

The Difference Between THC and CBD

Although there are some similarities between THC and CBD, there are also some distinct differences.

The Source

CBD can be sourced from both marijuana and hemp. In order to produce CBD that has between 0%-.3% THC, CBD is often derived from the hemp plant. On the other hand, THC is derived from the marijuana plant.

Psychoactive Properties

THC produces a high feeling as it binds with the CB1 or CB2 receptors, while CBD does not cause the euphoric and high feeling like THC because it works on different brain receptors than THC.


CBD is legal in most parts of the United States. All 50 states have laws that make it legal to obtain CBD but with different restriction levels. In 2018 the United States passed the farm bill removing hemp from the Controlled Substance Act, making hemp legal in the United States. Due to this, hemp can now be legally cultivated in the United States.

As a result of the competing state and federal laws as well as evolving FDA regulations, CBD products tend to be mislabeled with false information. According to a research letter found on the JAMA Network, out of 84 CBD products studied, 69% overstated or understated their concentrations of CBD, and 21% of the products contained THC without labeling them as such.

Consult Your Physician

Before starting a THC or CBD regimen, please consult with your physician as both THC and CBD can interact with any medication you take and affect how your body metabolizes medication. You can also take a free, physician recommended health assessment HERE.



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