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The key differences between CBD and THC

With cannabis becoming legal in Canada, many Canadians will be asking the same questions: What is THC, CBD, and more importantly, what’s the difference between the two?

First, it’s best to understand the chemical composition of a cannabis plant. Over the course of its life, a cannabis plant will generate hundreds of chemical compounds. Of these compounds—also known as cannabinoids—are THC and CBD, short for Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol. These are the most well-known parts of a cannabis plant because of how they interact with the human body when ingested, inhaled, or used externally.

To help you understand which cannabinoid you might prefer, here’s a cheat sheet on the key differences between CBD and THC.

Key points on CBD

  • CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It doesn’t contain the same chemical compounds that give you a feeling of being ‘high’ or ‘stoned’.
  • CBD is more widely used for medical reasons. It’s used to treat stress, anxiety, depression, and is being used in many medical fields to treat cancer, epilepsy, and serious neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • There are roughly 111 types of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant
  • Because it’s not associated with the same body or mind high as THC, it provides a more energetic feeling than THC and is considered to counteract the effects of THC.
  • It’s used in tinctures, edibles, oral sprays, topical creams, and vape pens.
  • CBD acts as a class of anti-inflammatory

Key points on THC

  • Unlike CBD, THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid.
  • It’s properties are used for both recreational (that ‘high’ or ‘stoned’ feeling) and medicinal uses (to treat pain, nausea, asthma, etc.).
  • There are approximately 3 types of THC molecules in the cannabis plant
  • It’s more likely to cause negative side effects like reduced cognitive functions, lethargy, or anxiety.
  • It’s commonly used for relaxation, pain relief, and recreation.
  • It can be found in many forms, like smokeables (vapes or rolled cigarettes), THC pills or capsules, creams, or edibles such as candy or chocolate.


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