THC vs CBD: Separating Fact From Fiction

THC vs CBD: the difference between these two is one of the biggest sources of confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to the cannabis plant.

And yes, both come from the cannabis plant – but that absolutely doesn’t make them the same..

Many people still associate one with the other or think they’re both the same. And sure, they’re similar in some ways, but they also have a few major – and important – differences.


THC and CBD are the 2 primary cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

There are over 480 different compounds present in the cannabis plant, and at least 113 of them have been classified as cannabinoids.

So, how do these 2 cannabinoids differ?

  • THC – Also known as Tetrahydrocannabinol – is found in high concentrations within marijuana plants. It’s what produces that “high” effect often associated with marijuana.
  • CBD – Also known as Cannabidiol – is found in hemp plants and is harvested primarily for its therapeutic benefits and applications.

These differences come from their chemical make-up…

RELATED: Are Hemp and Marijuana the same? The confusion exists here too. Check this out.

A Little Chemistry Lesson

There’s a lot of fancy science behind these two plants. CBD and THC have the same basic chemical structure, made up of: 

  • 21 carbon atoms
  • 30 hydrogen atoms
  • 2 oxygen atoms. 

As you can see, the difference in the arrangement of the atoms is minor, but these minor differences can have a big impact. First of all, the chemical structure impacts how CBD and THC connect with the endocannabinoid system and, thus, how they affect your body. 

Both CBD and THC work with cannabinoid receptors that release neurotransmitters in your brain. This is how they affect things like your mood, sleep, pain, and even your memory.

THC vs CBD – Myths and Facts

Myth #1 – Both come from the marijauna plant.

Nope. As mentioned, both come from cannabis, but THC comes primarily from marijuana, and CBD comes primarily from hemp.

Myth #2 – Both make you feel “high”.

According to the World Health Organization, while THC can impair cognitive performance and psychomotor abilities, “clinical studies have reported that even high doses of oral CBD do not cause those [psychoactive] effects that are characteristic for THC and for cannabis rich in THC.”

  • THC is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. It’s what causes the ‘high’ associated with cannabis. When you think of cannabis use and the resulting feelings of relaxation, an altered sense of sight or hearing, or the “munchies,” you’re thinking about THC. 
  • The effects of CBD are different. Because it’s an indirect antagonist of agonists, instead of making you feel high, CBD actually blocks THC’s intoxicating effects.

Myth #3 – You can overdose on CBD.

The have been no reported cases of CBD overdose. In fact, again, according to the World Health Organization, CBD is safe in large quantities, and the only potential side effects are mild and temporary.

These are the most common ones:

  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea

You also can’t overdose on THC in the traditional sense. Having too much THC may cause some temporary side effects. These can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slower than average response times
  • Memory loss
  • Poor coordination
  • Increased heart rate

Sure, CBD and THC technically come from the same plant, but that doesn’t make them the same. Both are incredibly valuable when it comes to natural medicine, but again, that doesn’t make them the same. 

Now, the next time someone asks you, are trys to tell you different, you can fill them in!