CBD vs THC: what’s the difference?

by Chloe Palmer

Both CBD and THC are natural compounds that can be extracted from the same hemp plant, cannabis sativa L. And it just so happens that CBD (cannabidiol), found in the hemp plant sounds similar to cannabis, and it’s associations with the drug form (marijuana, pot, weed) has made understanding the compound more complex than it should be. As a result, for those who don’t know much about CBD, it can be a confusing topic because while CBD doesn’t get you high, another three-letter abbreviation found in the same plant does get you high, and that is compound is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). So what’s the difference between the two? 


CBD and THC are very different compounds in how they interact with your body (and legally) but they do have similarities when it comes to their origins. CBD and THC have the same chemical formula: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen and 2 oxygen atoms, however they aren’t arranged in the same way, giving CBD and THC differing chemical properties, and thus affecting the body in different ways. Both compounds are thought to work with receptors in the ECS (endocannabinoid system) that release neurotransmitters in the brain, influencing things such as pain, mood, sleep and memory. 

THC is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis and it’s what makes people feel ‘high’. It binds to receptors in the brain that control pain, mood and other feelings and that’s why THC can make you feel euphoric and give you that so-called high. CBD doesn’t do that and instead it’s thought to work with other elements in the body linked to feelings of well-being with its ‘therapeutic application gaining interest due to expanding evidence for its use.’

CBD comes in 3 different forms; CBD isolate, broad spectrum and full spectrum.

CBD isolate: is the purest form of CBD, containing no other compounds found in hemp, except for the CBD itself, although legally it can have trace amounts of upto 0.2% THC, not enough to get any kind of psychoactive response.

Broad spectrum CBD: isn’t solely CBD but typically doesn’t contain THC either, however it does contain other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.

Full spectrum CBD: contains a small amount of all the components found in the hemp plant, including THC.

Not all CBD is made the same so and it’s very possible for sub-par products to slip through. At TRIP, our products are third party lab tested to ensure the highest purity and quality. If you’re new to CBD we recommend trying Discover CBD - My First TRIP or our Mixed CBD Drinks Pack and if you’ve taken CBD before, our CBD Monthly Magic or Double Down CBD Oil Pack could be for you. 


Laws are changing all the time, which makes the topic even more interesting. The Home Office policy provides licenses that may be issued for the cultivation of cannabis plants with a low amount of THC. ‘There needs to be a defined commercial end use and the Home Office only issues licenses for cultivation of plants from approved seed types with the THC content not exceeding 0.2%. The 0.2% reference is used solely to identify varieties which may potentially be cultivated, within the scope of this policy, and to differentiate between the fee level applicable under the Misuse of Drugs (Fees) Regulations 2010.’ CBD in the UK must also be derived from an industrial hemp strain that is UK approved. 

In the USA, over 30 states allow medical marijuana containing THC for several uses but it’s still illegal under federal law. Some states have made recreational marijuana with THC legal for personal use, but it’s also illegal under US law. As part of the Farm Bill in December 2018, Congress legalised hemp but there are still rules about where and how you can sell products that contain CBD, ie. you can’t sell some across state lines and all CBD products are illegal if they’re sold with the promise of medical benefits. 


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