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CBD versus THC: What Makes Them Different?

Over the years cannabis has grown in popularity, along with the cannabinoids that we now know how to derive from the plant. CBD and THC, perhaps the most popular cannabinoids that we have access to, are both well known for their healing properties and powerful effects. The two cannabinoids, however, have a few key differences that have largely different implications on consumers.

CBD and THC might be similar molecules both coming from the cannabis plant, but they do not have the same effects on people. So, what makes them different? 

Chemical Effects

CBD and THC have subtle differences in chemical makeup that lead to large differences when it comes to interactions with the human mind and body. 

The main differences lie in the way that they affect the brain. THC, creates a psychoactive effect, while CBD does not. In other words, the molecule THC alters your sobriety, while CBD imparts its healing effects on the body without altering creating the “high” that often impairs people after consuming THC. 

The details on why exactly these two molecules interact differently when consumed are not completely understood. So far, scientists believe that the two cannabinoids probably bind differently to cannabinoid receptors found in the human body. 

Two Types of Cannabis

CBD and THC also have a correlating differentiation between classes of the cannabis plant. Hemp and marijuana, two different types of cannabis, are defined by their cannabinoid contents.

Hemp plants are cannabis plants with high levels of CBD, and no more than 0.3% THC. On the contrary, marijuana plants have much higher THC content, and as a result, have more heavily psychoactive effects.

With such a low THC content, hemp is ultimately not psychoactive. This is one reason why hemp is subject to fewer legal restrictions than marijuana.


In addition to the chemical differences between these molecules, there are also visual differences between the hemp and marijuana plant.

Hemp plants usually look taller, while marijuana plants are shorter and wider. The individual leaves of each plant might vary in appearance as well, with hemp leaves looking long and thin, and marijuana leaves looking more stocky. 

For more details on how to tell hemp from marijuana, check out Silver Rain’s flower blog.

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