What's the Difference Between CBD and THC?

CBD and THC are the main components of marijuana, but they serve very different purposes. Here are some of the key differences between the two.

With the rise of legalization across North America, there's now an ever-growing demand for THC and CBD. Surely, you've heard of them before—CBD and THC are the two main components that makes up marijuana. But what do they do exactly? What do they do? Why would someone prefer one over the other? And what do those letters even stand for?

Let's get started, shall we?


CBD stands for cannabidiol, and is one of the 120 compounds known as cannabinoids that's found in marijuana. Confusing, yes—they do sound very similar.

CBD has seen a boost in popularity in the past few years thanks to its health benefits, and because it's not the component that causes the high in marijuana. This means that even those who do not partake in smoking marijuana are capable of using CBD and reaping its benefits, whether it be for alleviating pain and inflammation, or anxiety and depression.

Some of the many conditions with which CBD may help include: pain and inflammation, PTSD and anxiety, epilepsy, Crohn's disease, and more. Of course, the effects will differ depending on the person, but a number of studies have suggested CBD’s benefits in managing these conditions. The great thing about CBD is that it does what it does, without the neural effects that THC provides.


THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is what gets credit for your high. It mimics a natural chemical that's produced in your brain (anandamide) and affects the communication of anandamide with your brain, attaching to neurons and changing the process of this communication.

THC can affect functions like memory, thought, pleasure, concentration, coordination, and sensory perception, which is why it's often advised that one should not be driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of THC.

Unfortunately, THC has a bad rap even though like its counterpart, it actually boasts health benefits, including alleviating symptoms of depression, PTSD, and more.

Fun fact: they're cut from the same cloth

Now, even though they may have different effects, the chemical composition of CBD and THC are eerily similar—they only differ by a single atom! While they're cut from the same cloth, the way each compound interacts with our body is very different. Both CBD and THC bind to things called CB2 receptors, but because of their molecular differences, THC is able to bind directly with CB1 receptors, whereas CBD does not. The reaction thereafter sends out signals to the brain, which is what your "high" is.

Interestingly enough, CBD receptors have shown not to bond directly with CB1 receptors, even sometimes affecting how THC bonds with CB1 receptors, which is why...

They also work together

Let's just put it this way: CBD without THC (or vice versa) just wouldn't be the same. The two compounds work together to give you the perfect high, but here's one thing to keep in mind: the higher the level of CBD, of course, the lesser the effect of THC. This is why the ratio of THC to CBD is important, depending on how you want to feel. This makes sense, considering that the more CBD you have in your weed, the greater the effect it will have on your THC and how it attaches to CB1 receptors.

So what have we learned?

THC is the chemical compound that gives you the high, while CBD actually pulls back on THC's effects. They work together to give you the specific effects you want, and CBD has now become a very popular wellness item due to its many health benefits. THC boasts health benefits, too, but is still working to shed the negative connotation attached to the compound.

Have more questions about CBD and THC? Our Grow Specialists are here to chat, seven days a week.