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Clearing the Smoke: Differences between CBD and THC

CBD,THC,Cannabinoids,Medical Cannabis

Derived from the same plant genus (Cannabis sativa), THC and CBD are phytocannabinoids, chemical compounds recognized by receptors that are part of our body’s biological neuromodulatory system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This complex system is considered the bridge between the mind and body, having the sole responsibility of maintaining homeostatic function. The ECS is known to regulate the balance of body functions affecting sleep, appetite, mood, memory, pain, and inflammation. Like a lock and key configuration, each receptor type in this system has a designated shape that enables a body response only when activated by the “key,” a cannabinoid, uniquely designed to fit within the receptor to unlock and activate the body response. Where the elicited response occurs depends upon the location of the receptor.

Though data is still limited, possibly due to stigma and regulation restrictions (i.e., the U.S. Controlled Substance Act of 1970), preliminary data suggest THC and CBD have been shown to help those suffering from various acute and chronic ailments.

What makes them similar?

From a molecular standpoint, THC and CBD have similarities, such as the same molecular weight of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. They also share similar chemical compositions. However, the varied rearrangement of atoms causes them to interact differently within the ECS, resulting in different body responses.

Psychotropic Effects

  • THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or marijuana, activates CB1 receptors in the brain that can produce psychotropic effects, including euphoria. THC is usually inhaled but may be consumed. Temporary side effects using products containing greater than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol may include tachycardia, red eyes, anxiety, increased hunger, and coordination problems. Often used for cancer patients to stimulate appetite and those with pain and anxiety, THC is a worthy option for relieving painful symptoms to improve quality of life.
  • • CBD, also known as cannabidiol, or hemp, does not produce psychoactive effects within the body while still providing numerous health benefits. CBD products containing less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol may be consumed to help with various ailments, including anxiety, depression, and seizures. CBD is usually well tolerated. However, some side effects have been reported, including fatigue, appetite changes, and weight loss.

Drug testing: Will it be positive?

  • Cannabis, or Marijuana (the derivative of the THC compound), will produce a positive drug screening test due to high amounts of THC in the product (greater than 0.3%).
  • Hemp, or CBD, although containing less than 0.3% of THC, may produce a positive drug screening test result.
  • It is important to note that even after discontinuing marijuana or hemp, test results may show a positive result, even after several weeks, since these compounds may be stored in fat tissue and not readily excreted from the body.


When used together, THC and CBD can produce a synergistic effect. CBD can bind to CB1 receptors, in addition to THC, just in a different area. In doing so, CBD partially decreases the psychotropic effect of THC. This is called allosteric inhibition. Working in unison, this combination therapy can be a beneficial solution for those needing relief with decreased psychoactive effects.

Which one is right for you?

CBD and THC can both be beneficial in treating various health conditions. At DocMJ, our qualified physicians will gladly help answer any questions and develop the right treatment plan for you. Call us today to schedule your personalized one-on-one visit.


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