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Difference between CBD Oil and THC Oil

As more and more countries legalize medical marijuana and recreational cannabis, and CBD is now legal in most European countries and around the U.S., the interest in cannabis-derived compounds called cannabinoids has spiked.

Hearing abbreviations like CBD and THC and other uncommon cannabis-related terms can confuse anyone. If you still wonder about the difference between CBD oil vs. THC oil, in this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about these two products to choose the right one for you.

1. CBD oil vs. THC oil – THC vs. CBD ratio

As their names suggest, the first and the most evident difference between THC and CBD oil is their THC vs. CBD ratio.

In simple terms, the difference between these two is that CBD oil has high CBD and low THC content, while in contrast, THC oil has high THC and low CBD content, hence the names.

Now, if you are just getting acquainted with the cannabis world, this simple difference might not tell you a lot. What are CBD and THC, after all? Don’t worry; we are about to elaborate more on that below.

CBD vs. THC: What are they?

Both CBD (short for cannabidiol) and THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) belong to the group of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Although these two natural compounds share similar chemical formulas and almost exact molecular structures, atoms within these compounds have different arrangements; thus, they produce significantly different effects.

Both CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid receptors within the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in animals and humans. It’s not been too long since scientists have discovered this complex cell-signaling network, but they suggest ECS plays a vital role in the healthy functioning of our bodies.

THC oil is made from the cannabis plant

2. CBD oil vs. THC oil – Their Source

Even though both cannabinoids – CBD and THC derive from the cannabis plant, and many use the terms cannabis and marijuana synonymously, THC and CBD usually come from two different types of the cannabis plant – hemp and marijuana.

These two cousin plants are almost identical, with one primary difference – CBD vs. THC ratio. Hemp plants naturally contain only minuscular THC amounts and have high CBD content and other cannabinoids, while marijuana is rich in THC and usually has low levels of CBD.

Although manufacturers can extract either CBD or THC from both of these plants, marijuana extract will have high THC content, and hemp extract will naturally feature high levels of CBD and low levels of THC.

a spoon filled with oil sitting on top of a table.

3. CBD oil vs. THC Oil – Their Effects

Another significant difference between CBD oils and THC oils is their effects. They drive different results because of their chemical makeup; THC and CBD affect cannabinoid receptors differently within the ECS system due to their chemical structure. Studies suggest that THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and produce psychoactive effects. At the same time, CBD has a negligible affinity to ECS receptors, and CBD products, even in large doses, won’t cause psychoactive effects.

THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, which is the cause of the so-called high from smoking cannabis. Medical and recreational cannabis and THC oil have a high percentage of THC; therefore, they will drive psychoactive outcomes. In contrast, hemp-derived CBD products don’t contain psychoactive doses of THC. Marijuana-derived CBD products might contain higher doses of THC, so if you are searching for a non-psychoactive CBD oil, check its source. Check whether it’s made from Indica or Sativa cannabis strains when shopping for THC oil. The first provides more sedative effects, while Sativa strains drive more upbeat results.

4. CBD oil vs. THC Oil – Legality

CBD and THC have different legal statuses in almost every country worldwide. Usually, laws favor hemp-derived CBD products, and THC is only legal in those countries that have legalized recreational cannabis or medical marijuana. This is because industrial hemp has only trace THC amounts; thus, it’s not psychoactive and won’t affect any cognitive functions.

Per European law, CBD products with no more than .2% THC are legal in most European countries. According to federal law in the U.S., CBD oils with no more than .3% THC are legal in all states. The 2018 Farm Bill in the United States removed hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and CBD became available to millions of American consumers.

In contrast, THC oils are only allowed in those states and countries where recreational cannabis is legal or available with a prescription. If medical cannabis is permitted where you live and your doctor prescribed it for medical treatment, you can shop for THC oil.

5. CBD oil vs. THC Oil – Availability

Because THC remains illegal in many parts of the world, it also is not as available as CBD oils are. CBD is legal in most parts of the world; thus, an ever-growing legal CBD market has emerged. CBD is now widely available in countless forms; you can find any product type with CBD oils like shampoos, balms, ointments, tinctures, softgels, gummies, etc. – you name it! You can acquire these legal CBD products at nearly every type of store – physical or online. THC oils are rarer and only available to those consumers living in areas where recreational or medical cannabis is legal.

6. CBD oil vs. THC Oil – Uses

Unsurprisingly, people use CBD and THC for different reasons. Even those using either cannabinoids have unalike goals they want to achieve. The research on CBD’s effects on the human body is still in its infancy, so it’s still difficult to discuss its medical benefits. The only FDA-approved prescription CBD-based drug in the U.S. is Epidiolex to treat severe forms of epilepsy. Other than that, there are no other CBD medications, and CBD is not used for treating medical conditions, unlike medical cannabis used in more than 30 countries worldwide.

According to the EU CBD Consumer report in 2019, the primary reasons consumers used CBD products were:

According to Harvard Health, the most common use for medical cannabis in the United States is for chronic pain control. Although many consumers likely use THC oil for many similar reasons as CBD, to date, there’s no official THC consumer report that will support this.

7. CBD oil vs. THC Oil – Substance Dependence Potential

Although marijuana enthusiasts love to argue otherwise, studies show that THC has a dependence potential. They suggest that 9% of marijuana users will become hooked on it primarily because of THC in it and its psychoactive properties. Although smoking itself can be habit-forming regardless of the product, and consumers usually take THC oil sublingually or using a vape pen, still, because of high THC doses, THC oil can potentially cause dependence.

On the other hand, CBD oil doesn’t cause dependence or withdrawal symptoms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), in its pure state, cannabidiol (CBD) does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.

8. CBD vs. THC – Do they Show Up on a Drug Test?

Employers with a drug-free workplace program may regularly test employees for numerous drugs, including marijuana if recreational use is not legal. Standard drug tests like the urine test – most commonly used by employers, look for THC metabolites in the body, indicating marijuana use. Regardless of which product you consume, marijuana oil, flower, or anything else with more than trace THC amounts, you will possibly test positive for marijuana. The time it takes for your body to flush out these inactive metabolites depends on individual factors. According to American Addiction Centers, it will take anywhere between 3 days and a month based on dosage and frequency of use. Thus, consuming THC oil isn’t the best idea if you have an upcoming drug screening at work.

The above-stated urine test can’t detect CBD simply because these drug tests aren’t looking for its metabolites. CBD is not a psychoactive compound nor a drug, and there’s no reason to test for it. Although it’ll be logical to conclude that CBD won’t cause you to fail drug tests, that’s not always the case. Even when it comes from the hemp plant, CBD oil naturally features a low THC amount and can possibly trigger false-positive test results. Moreover, some CBD products on the market might feature more than the indicated THC amount, so always shop for products tested by independent laboratories to ensure they contain only the legal amount of the psychoactive compound. (Check for third-party lab test results on the brand’s website, and if they don’t offer it, don’t buy their CBD) Finally, if you want to minimize the chances of testing positive for THC drug testing, shop for broad-spectrum CBD with non-detectable THC amounts.

In Conclusion:

Whether CBD or THC oil is the right fit for you depends on the goals you want to achieve and the effects you want to experience. If you wish to drive psychoactive results, THC oil is the right choice, but shop for CBD oils when looking for non-psychoactive cannabis products. CBD may be the only legal option for those who live in areas where recreational marijuana is illegal, making it easier to choose the right product. The table below summarizes the primary differences between CBD and THC oil, so you can see what to expect from either product by looking at it.


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