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CBD vs THC: Understanding the Difference

CBD vs THC: Understanding the Difference

CBD vs THC: Understanding the Difference Between These Two Cannabis Compounds

The number one question new users ask is whether or not CBD will get them high. The short answer is no.  We could have taken another 500 words to give you that info, but we trust you will keep reading anyway. Don’t let us down. 

To fully answer the question we need to take a look at the difference between CBD and THC cannabinoids. This is some pretty interesting stuff. 

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Molecular Difference Between CBD and THC

There are over 100 identified cannabinoids naturally produced by the cannabis plant. The two most well-known are CBD and THC. They have an identical molecular structure with 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. Though the formula is the same, how the atoms are arranged changes the interactions these cannabinoids have with receptors in the body. 

So, what is the difference between CBD and THC?


Every animal with a vertebrate (yes, that means your dog, cat and even your pet pig) including us humans, has a natural endocannabinoid system. The body produces its own cannabinoids and also has receptors to receive and interact with these endocannabinoids. These receptors also interact with phytocannabinoids such as THC and CBD that come from cannabis plants. 


Read more about Why the Endocannabinoid System matters here!

More Information About Cannabis

Hemp and marijuana are both members of the cannabis family. There are some significant differences. The most notable difference is the amount of THC and CBD they produce


Marijuana hosts twelve per cent THC on average. This is in stark contrast with hemp, which cannot legally contain more than 0.3 per cent THC. However, marijuana usually has significantly less CBD than hemp. 


The plants are also easy to differentiate in how they are grown. Hemp plants are usually grown close together in an outdoor environment, much like corn.


Marijuana is often indoors, and each plant is isolated in its container or given a significant amount of space for foliage to expand outward. 


The Body’s Response to Cannabinoids

Each cannabinoid interacts uniquely with cannabinoid receptors. They may also interact with each other and the hundreds of additional plant compounds found in cannabis. Research shows that cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBC, CBG and others reach their full potential when they work together. This concept is called the “entourage effect.” 


The CBD oil we stock from Nuleaf Naturals at Miracle Leaf contains these additional cannabinoids and compounds and is considered “full-spectrum.” Read more about what full spectrum means here!

THC in the Body


THC binds directly to CB1 receptors in the brain, which causes the psychoactive response associated with feeling “high”. Most marijuana consumers are looking to achieve this sensation. Each person responds differently to THC, but the most common effects include a sense of euphoria, sensory stimulation, and positive mood attributions. 

Other less-desirable effects may include anxiety, paranoia and feeling overwhelmed or non-functional. This can be attributed to the intake of more THC than the body is able to handle or the unique combination of cannabinoids in that particular strain of marijuana.


These are short-term effects lasting hours to days on average. Other side-effects may include: Dry mouth, increased heart rate, red eyes, coordination difficulties, memory loss, slow reaction times, and food cravings


CBD in the Body


CBD does not bind directly to cannabinoid receptors. In fact, it interacts in other ways. CBD  acts as a counterpart to balance and level out strong reactions to THC. This is why marijuana strains that are high in CBD are less psychoactive, and the minuscule amount of THC in full-spectrum CBD does not produce a “high”. 


While it does not directly bind with cannabinoid receptors, CBD does interact with other receptors in the body, such as serotonin, adenosine and vanilloid receptors. It can also affect some neurotransmitters by delaying uptake.

CBD is a powerful antioxidant which has beneficial properties throughout the body. And because it does not alter your conscious state, CBD can be taken pretty much any time of the day. Plus, CBD is well-tolerated by both humans and animals, even in large servings.

Drug Testing for CBD and THC


Most workplace drug tests are specifically designed to detect THC, though there are CBD-sensitive tests available. By law, full-spectrum CBD can contain up to 0.3% THC, and there is a chance that this could be detectable by a test. 


Interestingly, both THC and CBD are stored in fat cells. The amount of time it takes these cannabinoids to clear the body depends on a number of factors, some of which include body fat percentage, hydration, activity level, metabolism, and diet.

Summing Up the Main Differences Between CBD and THC


That may have seemed like a lot of information. So, here is the condensed version for those  who want to get down to the nitty-gritty. 


  • CBD does not get you high
  • Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants
  • Full-spectrum CBD can contain over 100 different cannabinoids and hundreds of other plant compounds 
  • The body has a natural system to receive cannabinoids
    CBD is well-tolerated – even in large amounts

Stock up on all your favourite premium CBD brands at Miracle Leaf right here today.


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