CBD vs THC: What’s the difference ?

CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) are both constituents of Cannabis. They belong to the cannabinoid family, a set of chemicals that act on the cannabinoid receptors of our brains. There exist a large variety of cannabinoids (more than 400 identified so far).
But what are the differences between the two most famous: CBD and THC?

First, they don't have the same effect. It mainly depends on which receptors they bind to: THC binds to receptors in the brain, whereas CBD binds to receptors throughout the entire body. This results in a wide spectrum of effects, ranging from anti-anxiety to psychoactive effects.

Where do you find them?

THC and CBD are both found in cannabis. Cannabis is a broad term to designate plants containing cannabinoids. The 2 most famous cannabis species are Indica and Sativa.

Both contain CBD and THC, but not in the same proportions.
Sativa plants usually are more concentrated in CBD, and less in THC. Indica is the opposite.

Nowadays, we can find many hybrids of those plants with varying levels of CBD and THC.

Even amongst sativa, we can differentiate marijuana with a high level of THC (20%-30%) from hemp with a high level of CBD and low THC (<0.3%).

CBD vs THC: what are their effects?


THC is a psychotropic cannabinoid. It binds to receptors in the brain, which results in changes in dopamine levels and other neurotransmitters. Those changes are responsible for a wide range of effects.

The most commons are:

  • euphoria, well-being, stress reduction
  • increased sensuality, libido, creativity
  • enhanced perception of the world: smell, taste, ...

It can also have adverse effects:

  • anxiety, stress, paranoia
  • panic attack

Not only the duration ranges from a few minutes for smoking to a few hours when ingested, but the effects also vary a lot between consumers and method of use.


CBD is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, which means we can't get "high" on CBD as we would with THC.
As a matter of fact, CBD has been shown to counter the effects of THC. Some Marijuana patients even use it to absorb a higher quantity of THC for its medical properties.

Most common effects:

  • anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety
  • relieves pain, anti-insomnia
  • anti-cancer, anti-depression
  • diabetes prevention

Adverse effects:

  • tiredness
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite

CBD has a lot of benefits. For instance, it is said to reduce inflammation, decrease blood pressure and have anti-cancer properties. It is also good for insomnia or anxiety.
Overall, it's a molecule that promotes balance in the body, always at the right time, at the right place.

Note that the effects of CBD remain mostly unknown, and there is a lot of ongoing clinical research to confirm those findings.

Are they legal?


Today, recreational use of cannabis is legal in 8 states. 30 states have legalized it for medical use and 12 states have completely forbidden its usage. (source)

map of states where cbd and cannabis are legal


Technically, CBD is legal in all 50 states, but this assertion is to be taken with care. Actually, we need to differentiate CBD isolated from hemp and CBD isolated from marijuana. The first one is legal all across the USA because it is considered as a byproduct of hemp, which is legal everywhere. On the other hand, each state has its own legislation regarding the marijuana-derived CBD.

We can split those into 3 categories

  • legal for recreational use: (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington)
  • legal for medical use: (28 states with various conditions regarding THC level found in CBD)
  • illegal: (Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota)

How Do I Take Them?

CBD and THC exist in various shapes and products and can be consumed in multiple forms.


Usually, the most common way to consume THC is to smoke it. A lot of different devices exist, and brands have come up with creative ways to smoke weed.

We can split them into 2 categories: the devices made for "dabbing" (or consuming flash vaporizations of cannabis concentrates), and the more traditional smoking devices, used with dry herb or oils.


  • dab rigs: used to dab cannabis concentrate, usually with a torch
  • e-nails: the new generation of dabbers, with the precision of electrical heating

Traditional smoking

  • bubblers: crossover between a hand pipe and a bong. Combines the best of the 2 worlds.
  • vape pens: portable electric devices
  • desktop vaporizers: massive smoking machines, ideal for groups.
  • bongs

Another popular way of consuming cannabis is by eating it. You can find a lot of different edibles on the internet, ranging from cookies, brownies or cannabutter to beers and exotic beverages.


CBD also exist under various products and forms:

  • pills, paste, oil
  • vape juice or cartridges that you can use with vape pens
  • wax for e-nails and vape pens as well
  • gummies (!)

Overall, the industry is coming up with new ideas for CBD products every day. You can even find treats for your pets based on CBD!


In brief, CBD and THC are cannabinoids both present in cannabis in various proportions. THC is more potent with psychoactive effects whereas CBD is a non-psychoactive THC antagonist. Both have therapeutic effects. For instance, THC can induce a sense of euphoria and relieve stress. CBD has remarkable anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also said to be effective against cancer cells proliferation and to promote balance throughout the whole body. Altogether, those topics are still actively researched and we should discover even more medical properties in the years to come.

Simon Peters

Traveler, artist and cannabis enthusiast, I love to share my passion for marijuana and its unique lifestyle. Californian. Founder of theweedcorner.com.

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