Ever since recreational use of cannabis became legal for adults in Canada on October 17th, consumers are wondering what their options are. Over the last decade or so, interest in medical marijuana has grown progressively but now it’s common to hear THC & CBD discussed in mainstream media. So, what are THC & CBD? What’s the difference between them? And what are your options as a consumer?

THC & CBD are both naturally occurring compounds found in all plants of the genus Cannabis. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD stands for cannabidiol. Both interact with your body’s system of cannabinoid receptors but their effects are very different. While the cannabinoids in cannabis do interact with these receptors, they evolved within our bodies to receive the type of neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids that are sent from our brains.  

Cannabidiol (CBD) is found primarily in extractions from the hemp plant. You can buy it in a variety of products such as gels, gummies, and extracts. At Marijane Depot, we find our customers prefer to buy CBD in oils, drops, or teas.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal psychoactive component of marijuana. Historically, it was most commonly consumed by smoking marijuana. These days, you can also find THC in products known as extracts and concentrates. These are designed for other ways of inhaling such as dabbing or vaping. THC is also available in oils, capsules, or distillates and as edibles.

THC & CBD may have a lot in common, but their differences determine their uses.

THC & CBD: Chemical structure

THC & CBD molecules both have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. But their chemical structures differ slightly in how the atoms are arranged. This difference is why they have different effects. Because THC & CBD are chemically similar to the endocannabinoid neurotransmitters produced by your own body, they can interact with your cannabinoid receptors. Obviously, this interaction has an impact on the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. In general, though, scientists agree that your body’s endocannabinoid system is just being supplemented when you consume cannabis.

THC & CBD: Psychoactive effects

Even though they are chemically similar, THC & CBD don’t produce the same psychoactive effects. THC produces a high or sense of euphoria while CBD doesn’t.

There are 2 main types of cannabinoid receptors in the human body.

CB1 receptors are located principally in your brain and nervous system. There are also CB1 receptors in your lungs, liver, and kidneys. Like most of our natural endocannabinoids, THC binds with CB1 receptors, thus relieving pain, reducing nausea, and counteracting depression.

CB2 receptors are located principally in your immune system and are particularly concentrated in your spleen and your digestive tract. CBD binds well with CB2 receptors, thus helping to regulate appetite, reduce inflammation (which is an immune system response), and manage pain.

THC & CBD: Medical benefits

THC & CBD have many of the same medical benefits. The difference is that CBD doesn’t cause the euphoric effects associated with THC.

THC & CBD can be used to help with various symptoms and conditions, including:

  • pain
  • nausea
  • inflammation
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • migraines
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • seizures
  • muscle spasticity

Which cannabinoid is better for which condition depends on which receptors are involved. Consultation with a healthcare provider can help you make the right choice. Find out more about which conditions can be treated with THC & CBD on our page about the medical benefits of cannabis.

THC & CBD: Your options

THC & CBD both have some medical benefits. Well tolerated even in large doses, CBD has few – if any – side effects. THC has temporary side effects related to its psychoactive properties. The side effects include symptoms such as dry mouth, red eyes, increased heart rate, memory loss, slower reaction times, and movement coordination problems.

THC & CBD are both considered safe by the medical and scientific communities and are not considered fatal. Studies have shown, however, that prolonged use of large amounts of THC can lead to long-term negative psychiatric effects for the developing adolescent brain.

The upshot is to consume responsibly, taking into consideration the temporary side effects and the possibility for interactions with other drugs you’re taking. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any questions.