September 16, 2022 5 min read

CBD and THC are the two main cannabinoid components of the cannabis plant, but many people don’t actually know what differentiates them. 

That makes sense. For the better part of a century, cannabis has been vilified as a substance with no medicinal value, so why take the time to learn about a useless recreational substance?

We are now learning that that thinking is far from the truth. And as we learn about the benefits of the cannabis plant, we’re learning more about the particular benefits of the main cannabinoids — CBD and THC, or cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol.

At Kanibi, we sella variety of products, and we want our customers to understand what they’re getting. Some of the differences among our products are obvious (like tinctures versus gummies). But others aren’t as clear. 

For example, we sell tinctures that arefull spectrum as well as ones that areCBD isolate-based. The distinctions between these two types of CBD oil have to do with the presence or absence of trace amounts of THC.

So what’s the difference between CBD and THC? And why does it matter? We’ll delve into these questions here to help you make informed decisions.

One quick note before we dive in: In this article we use the word “cannabis” to refer to both legal hemp (which Kanibi’s CBD oil comes from) and marijuana.

CBD vs. THC: Chemical Makeup


CBD and THC actually have a lot in common. First of all, they’re both cannabinoids (a kind of chemical compound that can be extracted from cannabis plants). They’re not the only two cannabinoids — more than 100 have been identified so far — but they’re the most prevalent by far.

Second, they look a lot alike. In fact, their molecular composition is almost identical. They both have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. However, they differ in the way the atoms are arranged.

They behave quite differently, though, when they interact with our bodies.

This leads to the question: How is it that CBD and THC can interact with human systems at all? 

In the 1990s, scientists in Israel discovered that our bodies produce their own cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids) and that these endocannabinoids closely resemble plant-based cannabinoids like CBD and THC.

This allows CBD and THC to interact with the human endocannabinoid system.This interaction with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors and chemicals is, in part, what creates the wide range of benefits that we experience from both these cannabinoids.

CBD vs. THC: Psychoactive Effects

One of the main differences between CBD and THC has to do with how they make you feel. 

If you take a Kanibi CBD tincture — whether it’s full spectrum or isolate — you’re really not going to feel anything, certainly not any kind of a high or euphoria. 

We want to be really clear about this since there’s still a lot of confusion about what to expect when you try CBD. And if you’re using it to get high, you’re going to be disappointed. 

If you want to get high, hemp products are not going to do it for you.

To get high, you need higher amounts of THC, which is what you get with marijuana. THC is the cannabinoid that will make you high. Not only will CBDnotmake you high, it actually has been scientifically proven to dampen the psychoactive effects of THC.

The reason has to do with how these cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (an interrelated system of receptors and chemicals in our bodies). 

The CB1 receptor is one of the main endocannabinoid receptors, and it’s the one responsible for psychoactivity (among other things). Not surprisingly, THC has a strong affinity for the CB1 receptor and binds to it tightly. Hence, the feeling of being high.

CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t bind to the CB1 receptor. In fact, quite the opposite. It even tends to block the receptor so that THC can’t bind to it either, so it’s actually a bit of a buzz kill. 

While Kanibi CBD may help the people who use it in a lot of ways, it’s never going to make anyone high.

CBD and THC:  Side Effects

When it comes to side effects, CBD and THC differ substantially. THC does offer benefits, but for some people, too much of it can worsen psychiatric disorders like psychosis, panic disorder, or schizophrenia.

On the other hand, according to theWorld Health Organization, CBD has a good safety profile

That means that research has shown any side effects to be mild or moderate — even in the higher doses that scientists use in their research studies. These side effects (like fatigue or dry mouth) may even be due to drug interactions with other medications

Which brings up an important point.  

People who are taking other prescription medications should absolutely seek medical advice before deciding to take CBD. CBD can interfere with medications that are metabolized by the liver, causing worse side effects or even dampening the effects of your other medications.So talk to your doctor!

CBD vs. THC: Legality

We’ve talked about some of the differences regarding how CBD and THC interact with our bodies.But there are also major differences in how the law treats these two cannabinoids.

Let’s start with THC. At the present time, THC is still a controlled substance in the United States. It is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means that, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, it is seen as having no medicinal value. 

There is quite a substantial amount of evidence that THC provides all kinds of medicinal benefits. But as far as the law is concerned, THC is still a Schedule I substance (which makes it really hard for scientists to do research on it, but that’s another blog post for another day).

CBD is in a totally different category according to federal law.The 2018 Farm Billexplicitly legalized CBD as long as it is extracted from hemp. 

So how does hemp differ from marijuana? When it comes to the law, the only legal difference between the two is the amount of THC the plant contains. If a cannabis plant has less than 0.3% THC, then it is hemp. If it contains more than that, it’s marijuana.

That’s why testing is so important!

CBD vs. THC: Drug Testing

One of the main concerns that people have when they start using CBD is failing a drug test. In the U.S., many people have jobs that require them to be willing to take a drug test to prove that they’re not using controlled substances like THC.

Because our full-spectrum tinctures do contain small amounts of THC, we recommend anyone in this position to use our isolate CBD oil, which is THC-free. Even the tiny amounts of THC in a full-spectrum tincture can build up in your fatty tissue and, over time, it could possibly cause a failed drug test. 

On the whole, we believe that both CBD and THC have many benefits to offer — it’s just not true that one cannabinoid is “good” and one is “bad.” 

At Kanibi, though, we want everyone to feel comfortable using our products, so we offer options for, well, everyone.