The Difference Between THC & CBD

A closer look at the difference between CBD and THC, so that the next time you step inside your local dispensary, you will be better informed.

With cannabis availability becoming more widespread, and the negative stigma associated with consumption in decline, many of us are trying cannabis for the first time. Whether it’s your first or 500th time purchasing legal cannabis, you want to know what kind of experience to expect and how to best choose between an ever-expanding array of products.

For the most part, the folks selling you legal cannabis want you to have the best, up-to-date information about safe cannabis consumption so you have a good experience and will choose to return. Make sense, right? Given this, when consumers read the labels on various cannabis products, it can be confusing to make sense of the information on the package.

Why do CBD and THC ratios matter? What are terpenes and how do they influence the high? What strain will give you an experience that lines up with your expectations? Let’s take a closer look at the difference between CBD and THC, so that the next time you step inside your local dispensary, you will be better informed.

What is difference between CBD and THC?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are two naturally-occurring compounds found in cannabis that bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain. While CDB does have psychoactive effects, the effects are not felt in the same way as with THC. When THC is consumed, one may feel a euphoric high for several hours. With CBD, the psychoactive effects have been described as feelings of reduced anxiety, stress and a general sense of calm.

The differences between CBD and THC come to light when consumed in concert. Some consumers report that when small amounts of THC are taken with CBD, the desired positive benefits of CBD are enhanced. This is likely due to CBD tendency to bind weakly to the receptor (CB1) that THC typically binds to, lending credibility to the rational for blended THC and CBD ratios intentionally. Similarly, products with higher dosages of THC may purposefully include CBD as a way to decrease the possibility of negative feelings, such as paranoia or anxiety, when high.

What are the different effects of CBD and THC?

There is a wide array of effects reported when consuming CBD and THC individually or together. With CBD, consumers often desire to treat various conditions, such as seizures, inflammation, pain, anxiety and depression, as well as a variety of psychologic disorders. Some people even use CBD to treat pets with stress related ailments. The effects felt are generally described as feeling calm and relaxed.

For years, people have used THC to treat pain, glaucoma, insomnia, nausea and diet related disorders. THC is often used to reduce negative side effects of chemotherapy treatment with cancer patients as well. The effects felt are generally described as feeling a euphoric high with some saying they feel a sense of blissful ease accompanied with laughter and giggles (sometimes involuntarily).

How do THC and CBD work together?

Think of THC like a weird uncle that always causes arguments at family dinners, and CBD as the cool uncle that smooths everything over. When looking to help reduce anxiety, stress and inflammation with CBD, small amounts of THC may help get the job done. Conversely, if you are looking to test out a new strain of cannabis with moderate to high percentages of THC, it makes sense to have some CBD on hand to even out the high if things get a little bit too intense.

Different THC and CBD strains

Wrapping your mind around which strains are more desirable for specific effect outcomes is a tricky situation. Sativa is typically pegged as being a more creative, energetic high while indica is pinned as being a more stuck-to-your-couch high. But keep in mind that indica and sativa are botanical terms referring to the plant’s shape and physical traits, not how specific chemical compounds might influence your high. Another thing to remember is that everyone reacts differently to a strain whether sativa or indica.

More important than trying to figure out how to tell the difference between and indica and a sativa, you might want to spend time focusing on THC and CBD ratios, what terpenes are present in the product, and what activity you are planning during and after your sesh so that you can manage your expectations appropriately.

And as always, make sure you experiment in a safe environment and with people you trust. Enjoy the trip.