cbd vs marijuana knowledge article CBD Health Collection

When people start learning about CBD, many confuse the natural compound with marijuana. Is it the same thing? Is it a variation of marijuana? These are all questions that come to mind. While both compounds share similar properties, for all of their commonalities, there are also big-time differences. What are they? And, what is the legal status of both? Let’s dive headfirst into the ins and outs of CBD vs. marijuana so you’ll be in the know. 

Cannabis – one happy plant family

Cannabis is one of the buzziest words out there today, and it’s only gaining more traction as a potential wellness super trend. That’s because the cannabis plant, which includes hemp, produces hundreds of cannabinoids that may have natural therapeutic benefits. Two of the most abundant and well-known compounds found in cannabis plants have very different effects on the body and mind. What are they? You guessed it – CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  

These compounds are significant because both CBD and THC are chemically similar to the body’s endocannabinoids. Both compounds interact with the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body in different ways. Scientists tell us the ECS is responsible for critical systems, and it plays a role in regulating our appetite, sleep, stress, metabolism, immune function, mood, and more. 

What’s the big deal?  

So what’s the big deal about cannabinoids, anyway? Our bodies are pre-wired to accept these naturally-occurring compounds! 

You can read more in our recent in-depth Endocannabinoid article. However, in a nutshell, endocannabinoids are the natural cannabis-like molecules produced within the ECS that bring balance to many systems and tissues of the body. Because of these unique properties, people continue to look to these naturally-occurring compounds – including those found in CBD and THC – to promote health and wellness. 

Recap – similarities between CBD and marijuana

So, what are the most significant similarities between CBD and marijuana? 

  1. Both plants can include CBD and THC. However, hemp is grown for its high levels of CBD and low levels of THC while marijuana is grown for its much higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD.
  2. These two compounds interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system

Recap – the differences 

Great, right? So, what are notable differences between CBD and marijuana? The first and most important is the psychoactive properties of these two primary compounds. 

  1. THC is an active ingredient in marijuana. This cannabinoid is the well known psychoactive compound that produces the ‘high’ associated with marijuana use. While strains of marijuana can differ greatly, research shows that THC levels – upward of 20% – produce psychoactive effects. 
  2. While CBD products may contain trace levels of THC, CBD produces no ‘high’ effect. Broad-spectrum and isolate CBD products have, what labs call, no traceable amounts of CBD, while full-spectrum CBD Oil can contain trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3% as outlined by the 2018 Farm Bill). 

Exploring CBD + THC = ‘entourage effect’

Now that we’ve covered the similarities and differences between CBD and THC, there’s another question that comes up frequently – is there any benefit to taking CBD and THC compounds together? Many people believe that consuming CBD and THC synergistically, along with other organic compounds found in cannabis plants called terpenes and flavonoids, may be more effective than taking each independently. Many call this phenomenon the ‘entourage effect.’  For instance, studies published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking terpenes and phytocannabinoids together could be beneficial in treating pain, anxiety, inflammation, and more. While research into the greater implications of the ‘entourage effect’ continues, some individuals believe that CBD may help reduce unwanted effects of THC by blocking a handful of cannabinoid receptors. Further, mostly anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD may mitigate feelings of anxiety, hunger, and sedation some people experience after taking THC. Others suggest that these natural compounds together could improve CBD’s therapeutic potential.

CBD – What does the law say?

So, what we’ve covered so far are the chemical attributes of these natural compounds. What does the law have to say about each? The regulations may be clear, but like most things in life, change is constant. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA is ‘working to answer questions about the ‘science, safety, and quality of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD.’ 

Currently, the law sees CBD and marijuana very differently. At the federal level, THC-levels determine the legal status of the resulting cannabinoids. The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill makes a distinction that separates different parts of the cannabis plant as ‘hemp’ and other elements as cannabis or marijuana. Under the rules, the hemp plant is a variety of cannabis that contains 0.3% or less THC content (by dry weight). The new legislation also distinguishes between marijuana and ‘industrial hemp’ practices. In essence, according to U.S. law, the level of the THC is the defining line between which compounds are legal and which aren’t. 

Overall, at the federal level, CBD is legal, if it contains less than .3% or less of THC. And, at the state level, only three states consider CBD illegal altogether – Idaho, Iowa, and South Dakota – while others have specific regulations that govern the manufacture and sale of products. You can also read our recent article about the Legality of CBD to learn more.

There’s always more to learn 

As you begin to dig deeper into the scientific and legal layers around CBD vs. marijuana, it’s clear that there are different opinions and approaches to cannabis-derived products. Many believe that CBD and THC offer both unique, positive, and overlapping medical benefits. For example, some people use CBD as part of their healthy routines. Many individuals report it can relieve pain, improve mood, reduce inflammation, and promote sleep. Others may use marijuana or CBD together, depending on their desired benefits and preference or tolerance for the psychoactive ‘high’ associated with THC. 

As you move forward, it’s essential to do your research, talk to your doctor, and stay tuned, because there’s a lot happening around CBD and there’s a lot more to learn. If you have questions or want to learn more about CBD’s potential healthy properties, call or email us! At CBD Health Collection, we offer high-quality custom blends of CBD products in the form of oils and tinctures, edibles, capsules, lotions, and salves. Start exploring!