Molecular and Dosage wise differences between THC and CBD

If you’ve been using anything that’s one of these – marijuana flower, Cannabis Sativa, CBD oil, or even marijuana joint, you often hear these two terms – CBD and THC. Many people might wonder what these two mean? And are they different from one another?

Well, they are relatively different from one another, and here are the top five differences between CBD and THC that you should know. But first, let’s find out what these two terms mean.

What Is CBD?

Roughly speaking, the Cannabis Sativa plant has more than 100 cannabinoids. Because these cannabinoids are in plants, they are known as “phytocannabinoids.” A standard Cannabis Sativa plant will have approximately 40% of CBD or Cannabidiol in it, says a research paper published in Brazil.

CBD has many health benefits, and it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects on the body, like the THC.

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid present in cannabis that also has certain medical properties when consumed in low doses, but it also gives psychoactive effects to the users. In simpler words, after people get exposed to THC in their cannabis, they are more likely to be “high.” So much so that the National Institute on Drug Research believes that THC impairs people’s ability to drive.

Sourcing Differences

For the record, hemp flowers are relatively popular to source CBD out of them. In the early years of civilization, humans started cultivating hemp and are doing so to date. Hemp has a low THC concentration, which’s why hemp-sourced CBD oils have less than 0.3% THC in it.

On the other hand, THC mainly comes from the cannabis plant. To be more precise, one can find THC in the three species of cannabis – Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. Cannabis Indica might hold the highest amount of THC within it.

Interestingly enough, it’s easy to find CBD in cannabis plants. Still, THC’s concentration is marginally less in the industrial hemp plant and legal in most parts of the USA.

Molecular Differences

Both CBD and THC have the same number of carbon (21), hydrogen (30), and oxygen (2) atoms, but they are not the same at the molecular level. They might have the same number of atoms comprising them, but these atoms are vastly different. The different alignment of these atoms in CBD and THC’s molecular structure lays the foundation of different effects of these compounds on the human body.

Both of these cannabinoids have their structures in perfect alignment with the body’s natural endocannabinoids. This makes them an ideal trigger for activating neurotransmission.

Different Plant Structure

Apart from being different at the molecular level, both CBD and THC are also diverse when it comes to their source plant’s structure.

When it comes to harvesting, both male and female hemp plants can produce a fair amount of CBD. On the contrary, only female cannabis plants can produce high amounts of THC.

Also, CBD might be readily available after harvesting the hemp plant, but to use THC, you might have to use the decarboxylation method. Now, what does decarboxylation mean? It means to get rid of those 30 carbon atoms in the chemical structure of the phytocannabinoid. This can be done by applying heat to the chemical substance.

Dosage Differences

CBD and THC need to be taken in different doses to see their effects. For instance, CBD works by sort-of deactivating the cannabinoid receptors in our body – the CB1 receptors. To do this, and avail the therapeutic effects of the compound, you need a minimal amount of it. So much so that any extra amount of CBD you ingest gets excreted on its own. So you’ll be wasting CBD if you overdose to see quicker effects. Also, the dosing and activating of CBD are independent of what’s in your stomach. One can also incorporate CBD in his daily meals if taken in the right amount and quantity.

On the other side, THC requires users to follow a “start slow, increase gradually” process. Your metabolism and health will firmly decide how the phytocannabinoid acts inside your body. Also, going in the different directions of CBD, THC acts differently when you take it on an empty stomach or a full stomach. If you decide to take any form of THC on an empty stomach, the effects will kick in instantly. If you choose to take THC after having a wholesome lunch or dinner, then it might take the phytocannabinoid some hours to kick in its effects on your body.

The Legal Scene of THC and CBD

While we were quick to judge the compounds on their physical and chemical levels, we cannot ignore the Federal government’s role when it comes to using these compounds.

As per the latest information, using CBD is legal in most of the states in America. Also, obtaining pure CBD from hemp plants could be very costly and time-consuming, that’s why CBD products can have up to 0.3% of THC in them. In the broader view, if your CBD has less than 0.3% THC in it, it’s legal and won’t show up in a drug test. So CBD oil is safe for people who are continually under the radar. Although with some strains, when combined with CBD, the drug test might give false alarms, different tests like hair follicle test, etcetera can always clarify it.

If we talk about THC, it’s not entirely legal in the USA. In some states, the government has given the liberty to use medical cannabis with a certain cap over the THC content in it. You can find legal cannabis with an acceptable amount of thc delivery content in it on some of the renowned vendors only. Before the 1900s, the cannabis plants or marijuana plants were reasonably popular throughout the USA and were grown widely. But now, the scene changes dramatically, and high THC content is strictly illegal in the states and shows up on a drug test.


If we look to sum up the article, there are five differences in both the compounds. They are – sourcing, molecular, legal, dosing, and structural differences. If you know about these, you will not have a hard time differentiating between them. Did we miss any significant difference between the two compounds? Please let us know in the comments section.

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