CBD vs THC: Can Someone Explain the Difference?

There is a lot of buzz about CBD and THC these days. You might be wondering what the difference is between CBD vs THC. These natural compounds come from cannabis which is a genus of flowering plants. They both have potential medical benefits and share the exact same molecular structure. So what’s the difference?

This is a relatively simple concept on the surface. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is psychoactive and produces a “high” for the user while Cannabidiol (CBD) does not. We feel it is important to understand the difference between these compounds because we want you to find the right product for you. At Hempfulness, our CBD oil is derived from Hemp. This is the ideal plant as it generally produces high-CBD strains and little to no THC. Marijuana produces high-THC strains with little to no CBD.

Keep reading to find out how these similar compounds interact with our bodies differently, as well as differences in benefits, side effects and legality.

Interaction within the Body

To better understand the difference between CBD vs THC, it is important to know that these compounds are considered cannabinoids. Our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids, also called endocannabinoids, that interact with our Endocannabinoid System (ECS). CBD and THC are very similar to the endocannabinoids that the body naturally produces but are known as phytocannabinoids because they originate from a plant. This allows phytocannabinoids to also react with our ECS.

CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure of 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms and 2 oxygen atoms, however these atoms are arranged slightly different. This difference in arrangement also means they do not interact with our ECS receptors the same way.

Receptors in the Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System contains two main receptors know as Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and type 2 (CB2). CB1 receptors are known to affect memory, perception and movement. CB2 receptors play a role in pain modulation, immune function and inflammation. Studies suggest that THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain. This binding helps produce a high and is part of what makes THC psychoactive. CBD on the other hand is not known to bind to the CB1 receptors very well and may actually interfere with the binding of THC. CBD interacts best with the CB2 receptors and may explain why CBD is being used for pain management, better sleep and overall better health.

Medical Benefits

CBD and THC share some of the same medical benefits such as pain management and relief but are very different in other areas. There is still a lot of research to be done but studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that these compounds can be used to help with various conditions listed below:

Benefits of CBD

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Stress
  • Chronic Pain
  • Arthritis
  • PTSD
  • Acne
  • Nicotine and Drug withdrawals

Benefits of THC

  • Pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Low Appetite

We can’t talk about medical benefits without also mentioning the first prescription drug to contain CBD. Epidiolex was approved in 2018 by the Food and Drug Administration and is used to treat two severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Side Effects

CBD and THC are both generally well tolerated and neither is fatal. For CBD, side effects are rare. It is more common to have side effects from THC as they are usually related to its psychoactive properties.

Side Effects of CBD

  • Dry Mouth
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue

Side Effects of THC

  • Dry Mouth
  • Slower reaction times
  • Dizziness
  • Memory Loss
  • Increased heart rate

This was not meant to be a comprehensive list of side effects caused by CBD and THC but to give you a general idea. To learn more about this, we have put together a more extensive guide to CBD.


The legality of CBD and THC isn’t exactly straightforward but we will try to make it simple. CBD that is derived from a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC is legal in all 50 states. THC, typically from Marijuana is only legal in 33 states plus D.C. for medicinal use and only 10 states plus D.C. for recreational use. This is where it starts to get more complicated. Yes, THC is legal in certain states but it’s technically still illegal at the federal level. Luckily for CBD users, the federal government gave CBD the seal of approval in the 2018 Farm Bill.

There is still a lot of uncertainty in the cannabis industry. One thing that is certain though, all products on Hempfulness are 100% legal. When purchasing your CBD products with us, you do not need to worry about any of this. Check out our selection of CBD products to find the one that is right for you!


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