What Is the Difference Between CBD and THC?

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs today. But not everyone understands its two main ingredients: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

These two chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, create different strains of pot and affect the brain in various ways.

This article will compare the differences between CBD and THC and discuss how to get help if you or a loved one has lost control of their marijuana use.

What Is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive element in cannabis, which makes it the ingredient in marijuana that causes someone to get high.

marijuana flowers containing both cbd and thcWhile most marijuana sold on the street contains 2%–5% THC, certain strains of marijuana, including those sold in dispensaries, average 15%–20% THC, with some varieties reaching up to 30%.

How Does THC Affect the Brain?

When an individual uses marijuana (either by smoking or ingesting it), the THC in the plant binds to the brain’s cannabinoid 1 receptor. Neurotransmitters send signals to the brain that impact the nervous system, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex.

The cannabinoid 1 receptor also activates the brain’s reward center. When THC binds to the receptor, it triggers the release of dopamine, causing the pleasurable feeling usually associated with getting high.

Does THC Cause Impairment?

Yes, THC may cause impairment. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, THC relaxes the nervous system and targets areas of the brain that control a person’s ability to focus and form new memories. This can explain why individuals feel lazy or sleepy and have a tough time concentrating while they are high.

The poor concentration caused by THC can also make daily tasks like driving more difficult. A 2013 study in Clinical Chemistry found that a blood THC concentration as low as 2 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) can substantially impair a person’s driving ability. It is not considered safe to drive or do other important tasks while using THC.

What Is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

marijuana plant containing cbd and thcCannabidiol , or CBD, is the other primary ingredient in marijuana. Simply put, this compound is nonpsychoactive, which means it cannot make a person feel “high” the way THC does. However, CBD does have a noticeable effect on the brain, which is why it has become a hot-button topic in the medical marijuana debate.

Because it doesn’t cause impairment the way THC does, CBD-rich cannabis is making ground as a medical treatment for certain disorders. Some doctors may prescribe CBD to treat anxiety disorders, and CBD-based drugs like Epidiolex have recently been cleared by the FDA to treat epilepsy.

CBD and CBD products are also commonly used to treat or manage pain.

How Does CBD Affect the Brain?

While THC settles snuggly into the cannabinoid 1 receptor, CBD doesn’t quite fit. Instead, CBD works to block cannabinoid 1 receptors, preventing other compounds (like THC) from triggering them. In doing so, CBD actually stops a person from experiencing a high.

CBD also increases the levels of a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the brain, called anandamide. Anandamide helps regulate serotonin and dopamine. By increasing anandamide levels, CBD ultimately increases regulatory action against the chemicals that trigger our emotions.

This is why studies like a 2010 report in the British Journal of Psychiatry consider CBD-rich marijuana an effective treatment for individuals with anxiety or depressive disorders.

Does CBD Cause Impairment?

No, unlike THC, CBD does not cause impairment to the brain. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; studies indicate that elevated levels of CBD can counteract the effects of THC, stopping someone from getting high.

The Indian Journal of Psychiatry reported in 2011 that CBD held no effect on spatial reasoning or short-term memory, suggesting this compound did not affect the same regions of the brain as THC.

How to Get Help for a Marijuana Addiction

If you or someone you love has developed an addiction to marijuana, professional treatment may be needed to recover.

At Laguna Treatment Hospital in Orange County, California, we provide top-tier a medical detox facility and inpatient or residential rehab services.

To learn more about our quality addiction programs in Southern California, evidence-based therapies, and various payment options, call us at today. Our admissions navigators are available around the clock to answer questions and help start the admissions process.

Or you can find out whether we accept your health insurance and verify your benefits by filling out this simple and secure .

As the body of research on marijuana continues to grow, its popularity as a medical treatment may also increase. But if marijuana use becomes problematic, we can help you begin the path to recovery.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Laguna Treatment Hospital is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.