You’ve probably heard of CBD and THC — and, if you haven’t, you’ve probably at least heard of marijuana, which contains both chemicals. As marijuana legalization has spread and as experts and everyday people alike are becoming more familiar with the medical benefits of marijuana, CBD and THC have begun to appear in all kinds of health and lifestyle products. Their recent ubiquity is one of several things that CBD and THC have in common, but the similarities don’t run on forever. At the end of the day, CBD and THC are two related, but very different, things.
Going inside marijuana
First things first: what, generally speaking, are CBD and THC?
CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, which means they are active chemicals inside of marijuana. They both affect the way our bodies and brains react to marijuana, and they’re both at play when we smoke marijuana or ingest it in an edible form.
There are other cannabinoids — at least 113 others, to be exact — but THC and CBD are well known to us because they have been proven to have health benefits and other significant traits.
Importantly, THC and CBD can be extracted from marijuana. This means that we can create products that have CBD, but not THC, or vice versa.
THC, CBD, and getting “high”
One of the most common questions that people have about CBD is whether or not it can get you “high.” Marijuana, after all, gets people high when they smoke it or ingest it in an edible. So can CBD or THC alone do that?
THC is the cannabinoid most associated with marijuana’s high, so it can indeed get people high in its concentrated form. CBD, on the other hand, cannot get you high on its own. While some CBD fans talk about feeling really good when they take CBD, there is no question that CBD is incapable of producing anything approaching a marijuana high.
THC vs. CBD: medical uses
Both THC and CBD have medical uses, experts agree. THC has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain and nausea. CBD is widely known for its medicinal properties, which is why even the FDA is on board with at least some of its uses. CBD can ease pain and even stop seizures.
Many individuals with anxiety say that CBD’s calming effects help them get through their day, be happier, or remain productive. CBD’s effects are not drastic and are never uncomfortable, but they can be powerful for those who need a little bit of help.
THC and CBD legality
The difference in THC and CBD’s effects may help explain the differences in their legality and de facto availability. In many areas where marijuana is still illegal, THC products are banned while CBD products are either explicitly or tacitly allowed. Since CBD has medical benefits and does not produce a high, many states are content to allow it to be sold (federal law still differs from state law in many areas and as relates to many marijuana and marijuana-adjacent products, but the federal government has not generally enforced such laws where they conflict with state ones).
The differences between CBD and THC mean that CBD is more widely available. You may want to use CBD yourself, and there’s a good chance that you can! Just buy CBD tinctures or CBD edibles legally online or in person and consume them yourself. You may feel the anti-anxiety and feel-good effects that many CBD fans swear by.