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CBD vs. THC: What’s the difference?

July 3, 2018

Cannabis consumers have long prized potency (a high THC content) as one of the main factors that makes a particular strain more desirable. Though traditional demand for THC has caused an oversaturation of high-potency products, many consumers are starting to prefer less intense products that are lower in THC and higher in the non-intoxicating compound called cannabidiol (CBD).

THC and CBD are both cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, but they’re different in many ways that may influence your next dispensary purchase.

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What are high-CBD cannabis strains?

CBD is typically the second-most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, but this isn’t always the case. A strain may deliver CBD and THC in the following ratios:

  • High THC, low CBD (e.g.,10-30% THC, trace amounts of CBD)
  • Balanced CBD/THC (e.g., 5-15% THC and CBD)
  • High CBD, low THC (e.g., 5-20% CBD, THC under 5%)

CBD effects vs. THC effects

High-CBD strains tend to deliver very clear-headed, functional effects without the euphoric high associated with high-THC strains. They’re typically preferred by consumers who are extremely sensitive to the side effects of THC (e.g., anxiety, paranoia, dizziness). A high-CBD strain would also be a great choice for someone needing to medicate throughout the day to control pain, inflammation, anxiety, or other chronic conditions.

Related

Predicting Cannabis Strain Effects From THC and CBD Levels

Balanced CBD/THC strains will be a little more euphoric than CBD-dominant strains, though they’re much less likely to induce anxiety, paranoia, and other negative side effects. Strains like these tend to be the most effective for pain relief, and they’re also well-suited for THC-sensitive consumers who’d like a mellow buzz.

CBD strains can be consumed just as you would THC strains. You can smoke or vaporize CBD-rich flower, eat a CBD-infused edible, swallow a CBD oil capsule, apply a CBD lotion, or use a CBD tincture sublingually. Hemp products also contain CBD, though it is a less efficient source and lacks the beneficial chemical diversity of cannabis-derived CBD products (more on that here).

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What are the medical benefits of CBD?

The list of conditions CBD may help with is ever-expanding. Here are some of the most common conditions and symptoms patients combat with CBD:

  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  • Pain and inflammation
  • PTSD and anxiety
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Opioid withdrawal

Though clinical and anecdotal evidence suggests CBD’s benefits in managing different conditions, it became most famous for treating a rare and debilitating form of pediatric epilepsy. Dravet’s Syndrome is notoriously resistant to current approved treatment methods. Sufferers are plagued by seizures, often up to hundreds a day, that worsen as they age and can be life-threatening. Currently, treatment methods include having the child wear an eyepatch, specialized diets, and brain surgery, but all have mixed success rates.

Related

How to find the best CBD cannabis product for you

One of the earliest success stories involves a young girl named Charlotte who was given an ingestible oil derived from Charlotte’s Web, a CBD strain that was specifically developed to provide her with all the benefits of the drug without the high. In less than two years, Charlotte went from a monthly seizure count of 1,200 to about three. Other success stories followed and more parents have begun to speak out, particularly parents who are desperate for access to this life-saving treatment and have leaned on the promising treatment of high-CBD strains to help alleviate symptoms.

Although THC is best known for its mind-altering euphoria, it too has important medical benefits. There’s some overlap in what CBD and THC can treat, but THC is particularly effective in relieving nausea, appetite loss, insomnia, among other symptoms. Many patients find that a balance of CBD and THC offers the best symptom relief as the two work together synergistically.

CBD vs. THC: legality

CBD has no lethal dose or known serious medical side effects, but it is still federally illegal. With the passing of the Farm Bill in December 2018, industrial hemp became a legal agricultural commodity in all 50 states. While the DEA still considers CBD to be a Schedule I controlled substance, it clarified in a memo that trace amounts of CBD found in hemp stalks or seeds were legal. However, the legality of hemp-derived CBD may vary from state to state, so it’s important to check your state’s law before stocking up on hemp-derived CBD products.

Cannabis strains that have a high CBD:THC ratio are legal only in states with legal, regulated cannabis markets.

Related

The 10 best CBD cannabis strains according to Leafly users

What are some high-CBD strains I can try?

Keep in mind that CBD levels may vary from crop to crop—even from plant to plant. However, below are some strains that have been bred to contain higher CBD levels, so they might be a good place to start. Check the map on their strain page to see if these are sold at a dispensary near you. We also recommend checking with dispensaries about the specifics of their strains’ CBD levels. It’s always a good idea to purchase only lab-tested products that clearly state the CBD/THC levels so you know what kind of experience to expect.

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Leafly Staff

Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.

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  • Jeanie Mannon

    What about fairwinds

  • Think a little further

    Why only mention selected phenos ( that you can’t get seeds from ) and a unstable strain ( great strain, but you might not get CBD in it, so lab n needed ) , when we now have many stable CBD/THC strains in seed form that always will contain high CBD/THC. Like CBD Crew and all the companies that carry CBD Crew genetics in their catalog?
    I assume the people that write for Leafly knows the difference between a strain and selected phenos?
    This story is very unclear on this, would be great if that could be changed so people don’t get the wrong information 🙂

  • Darrell Allen Irvin

    I have more of a question than knowledge enough to enter a discussion. If your weed is high in CBD are you still able to get high or should you smoke a high CBD for pain and a high THC content weed at the same time?

    • Below the Bar Blake

      You can use both at the same time. Just keep them the same strain.

  • TIRED OF CORPORATE CRAP!!!

    I just recently learned that Sprouts Market also carries CBD products . Haven’t tried it yet. but plan to.

    • Jared Lang

      Really!? What kind do they carry?

      • I saw a bunch of tinctures and creams at my local Sprouts in Los Angeles.

  • OG NYer

    Does anyone have experience with using high CBD strains to help with insomnia? I am a recovering addict so I am very wary of using anything that is intoxicating.

    • Frantic

      Good question and I relate after having few years over a decade of clean time

      • Skye Oshun

        I have a friend who swears by marionberry Indica and I am about to try it also ~ I also have ADD and think CBD will help me immensely with that –

    • WestonF01

      Same. Exact. Prolem. Like you I really hesitate to try some of these things for fear of relapse. Some kind of clear therapeutic dose range would go a long way to helping us.

      • Beth Blinston

        At 18 years clean and sober I see no problem with using cbd with small level of thc provided you don’t abuse it. Anything can become addictive even coffee but think it really comes down to if it’s for a feel good or medical reasons.
        Time after time I see people fall because of fear of busting. We need to live and do what it takes to stay safe and grow .

    • Ginny D.

      Medical marijuana is definitely what everyone needs right now. For health prescription and medical purchases i recommend ANNCANNMED to anyone looking at high cbd strains for help

      • Tiffany462

        why would you refer anyone to a site like ANNCANNMED that has so fraud and scam alerts posted about them???

        • neicy

          THANKS FOR INFO – I am glad I saw that – thank you again

    • Jason Z. Smith

      Try CBD oil’s first!… The CBD will block the overall need for the other thing’s…… I recently downed 20cc’s of cannabis oil and coconut oil 1:5 ratio mix and slept for 24hrs woke up barely then slept for another 9 hrs… so test in small amounts… 🙂

    • Diane Daddario-Pfautz

      I have insomnia am a cancer survivor and I use high CBD strains to hep me sleep throughout the night! I vape it. The oil is not as effective.

  • Tammy Wheatley

    I have a high stage C -T4 ENB Cancer.
    This is Nasal and cancer , well mine went into my brain. I fight everyday and I was told that if I didn’t smoke I would be dead. How benefiticifal would this product be for me?
    Can I get it in or mailed?

    • E. A. Becker

      Cannabis Oil is the best medicine. I feel better using it. I prefer convenient, affordable and quick process where I could get the oil regularly. I need this that’s why I deal with AnnCannMed.

    • Zoey Thompson

      We have been using cannabis oil with a 1:1 CBD/THC ratio from “AnnCannMed” in treating my husband with pancreatic cancer with a lot of improvement since 4 weeks and the product is working in a miraculous way beyond our expectations. The medication is working with super proof. We recommend you visit AnnCannMed for your health prescriptions and medical purchases and feel support talking to licensed physicians

      • Sue Servidio

        Which oil do you use, the 50/50 or Rich simpson oil. I have advance basal cell skin cancer which is in remission. I hope! I would I would like to kill it all together but I have never used drugs in my life and I’m nervous. The tumour now lies beneath the skin and rest on my breast bone and sternum.

    • jimmy kraktov

      Take an unadulterated oil. Smoking pot will NOT cure cancer. Oil has cured many!!

  • jimmy kraktov

    Removing the THC from the substance will eliminate the high. If you see that as a good thing, so be it. However, I wouldn’t be interested in ‘modified strains’ because I do NOT trust the gov’t and I especially don’t trust Big Pharma. I would only use what nature produced.

  • Nfor Johner

    CBD is the ANSWER. I am 48 years young and I have epileptic seizures. No more PHENOBARBITOL or DILANTIN 6 pills a day-Thanks to Dr Peter Hurt for their top quality highly efficient CBD oil. 1 drop under my tongue twice a day and the seizures go away. I will do everything within my power to educate people about CBD.Text/Call # (804) 537-0917

    • One drop? There are no studies proving that such a small dosage can help anyhow.

  • k.joco

    How does one goes about getting seeds for High CBD strains

  • HappyQuails

    Why not ask what is the difference between CBD from hemp vs. CBD from cannabis with or without the less that 1 percent THC ? And for that matter how about finding out how we can tell if “lab” CBD is the Pfizer synthetic version?

  • Manuel Barrientos

    Does smoking cbd marihuana show up on a drug test

  • Bryan Rowley

    Check out ANNCANNMED for more information, health prescription and medical purchases. They have extremely potent products at good prices too. Recommend this dispensary to anyone looking at Cannabis for help!!

  • Madison Spooner

    Marijuana have lots of benefits that can cure different diseases. In moderate dosage, there will be no negative side-effects.

  • Garry Raymonds

    How to sensibly buy LEGAL cbd oil? Because I got a letter saying customs has confiscated my package two times already and I’m pissed.

  • Beth Blinston

    PTSD. My husband suffers chronic PTSD from active military service. We live not far from a large Army base and though my husband served with another counties military we hear stories constantly of family breakdowns over PTSD. It’s not a easy path but I’m hoping one day to find something to stop the endless trips to the psych ward. It’s just not right that those who serve come home to no government help.

    • tkingt

      Beth Blinston, I have PTSD from Vietnam. I have depression and anxiety. Has your husband found anything that helps?

      • Eric Milletich

        Proper medical CBD products, especially in edible or pill form will do wonders. Google a legal source for medical marijuana products in your state. They safely remove so much anxiety and promote relaxation and stress relief. The are great for emotional and physical care, and will not give any psychoactive effects found in THC products.

    • Eric Milletich

      Proper medical CBD products, especially in edible or pill form will do wonders. Google a legal source for medical marijuana products in your state. They safely remove so much anxiety and promote relaxation and stress relief. The are great for emotional and physical care.

  • Lee Butcher

    I have a brother in law who has been diagnosed with cataplexy and narcoplexy, where he starts quivering and slowly loses control of his body and goes into a sleep, which causes him to drop to the ground with mild seizures while he is out. He lives alone (59 years old), but has smoked cannabis since he (we) were teenagers. He still smokes, and is on medication twice a day for this condition, but if he misses those meds by even half an hour, he is at risk of these seizures. The sad part is, these seizures are usually brought on by the smallest emotional change, usually tension, excitement or, the worst thing, if something he finds funny and is the least bit tickled about and starts to laugh, this process will immediately begin. Does anyone know if this kind of condition is treatable with cbd oil’s or concentrates? As I said, he smokes weed, and often grows his own, but he does it for the high and relaxation advantage, since he is basically home-bound due to this condition ending his work career about 4 years ago. Thanks for any replies. I’d be overjoyed if I could tell him there’s a possible solution to the problem other than his prescriptions. Or even if it worked WITH his meds to keep from having to live such a sedentary life.

    • Elizabeth L

      Check Dr. Stephen Porges’ work, as well as Stanley Rosenburg. Both treat trauma and the vagus nerve’s role in bodily symptoms, which cause a lot of the symptoms you mention, as well as other people here. Some of Stanley Rosenburg’s simple exercises along with Stephen Porges’ work, can realign the vagus nerve and when done regularly have a cumulative effect. Basically, most symptoms, even seizures can be caused by misalignments and/or contracted muscles, (even the tiniest muscle in the human body, the stapedius muscle when chronically contracted can cause havoc on body) all under the umbrella of the vagus nerve (polyvagal nervous system). This is very well researched and is cutting edge treatment without the use of drugs of any kind. Some of Porges’ treatments use music, believe it or not, specially designed headsets with bone conduction. But please research, there are therapists trained in this field and in meantime, you can self-apply Stanley Rosenburg’s Basic Exercise, as well as others, first and you will see drastic results.

  • Mimi Peleg

    Thank you for the very informative article I was surprised to see no mention of the Doctor who made the connection for Charlotte. His name is Dr. Alan Shackelford and he practices in Colorado. I live in California or he would be my doctor for sure.

  • Nadine Bonnett

    I take a high THC ( Indica strain ) CBD oil, and pure CBD oil. It has helped immensely with my nocturnal seizures. I take .5ml of the thc and .25 ml CBD and it’s been doing great for me. Bedtime is the only time I take it.

    • Brad Swn

      While everyone’s body chemistry and results from CBD vary, a ratio of that much more THC than CBD wouldn’t be allowed in most non-rec states. Most full-spectrum CBD oils, like CBDPure, are going to have a much higher CBD:THC ratio to comply with the overall federal limit of 0.3% THC applicable at the federal level, to remain legal in every state.

  • I am in the same situation. Severe chronic pain patient for 15+ years and the government decides to dictate my pain control, not my doctor anymore. I now pay rent or get some pain relief.

  • Pirates&Paupers

    Looking to make a strong cream or salve for severe Psoriasis, any suggestions or recipes?

  • Married With Pizza

    Does anybody know about cbd vs thc for chronic exhaustion? There are times that I can barely get out of bed and can’t do work due to it, and it has gotten my mood swings to go over the roof! I don’t have much interest in doing just thc because it makes me feel more lethargic, but cbd has seem to be able to help me! I need to know if someone has used it for this problem, and is results

    • It’s all about finding the right cannabinoids profile in your product. I suggest trying something with bigger amount of CBDa, maybe Charlotte or Eir Health? Rather avoid isolates 🙂

  • Jay one

    CBD is a game changer for sure!

  • Billy

    I have PAD, Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition of the blood vessels that supply the legs and feet. It leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries. This causes decreased blood flow, which can injure nerves and other tissues.
    Does anyone have a recommendation?

  • Brayden Mills

    I’m pretty certain you can’t have one with out the other? Like that song

  • mark

    Does anyone have any recomend for MS

  • danforeman666

    Pot makes me paranoid.

    • Eric Milletich

      That’s the THC in weed, or from any other marijuana-induced source. CBD will not do that. It has no psychoactive effects.

  • Erwin King

    Great article!

  • Estelle Walker

    ..

  • If you didn’t already know — CBD and THC have the exact same chemical makeup: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.

    • Eric Milletich

      True, but the atomic placement is different. As a result the THC will bind with CB1 receptors and cause a ‘high,’ which is not palatable for everyone as it can make them woozy or paranoid. CBD does not do this, it simply provides the same medical benefits without the psychoactive effects. Also, THC is considered an illegal substance due to its mind-altering effects, whereas CBD is Federally legal (though still unlawful by some states behind the times).

  • Amanda Page

    Have you ever felt sick to your stomach after taking CBD oil?

  • Amanda Page

    Have you ever felt sick to your stomach after taking CBD oil?

    • nope, if you experience this, it might be coused by low quality product or the carrier oil. Imo try different brand and see if it will replay

  • Dan Patrick

    I was curious if anyone in the Fort Collins, Co area has any advice on a good place to get cbd products/cbd oil? Thanks in advance!! 🙂

  • Sawyer Jessica

    I’m looking for a weed that won’t get me paranoid, have anxiety, faint or make me hallucinate. I use to smoke weed when I was a teen until I started having these problems.

  • Wanda WaabiskaMigizikwe Boomho

    Yes, oil. I applied for medicinal cannabis through BODYSTREAM to start with, they then hooked me up with a doctor who prescribed my dosage. It took about 2 weeks going through Health Canada.

  • CBD can NOT get you high
    CBD is found in both the Marijuana Plant & The Hemp Plant. Both these plants fall under the category of “Cannabis” – however CBD can not get you high unlike the other widely popular cannabinoid called THC. (short for Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the active ingredient in Marijuana responsible for euphoric & psychoactive effects. But unlike CBD, THC is only found in the marijuana plant.

    CBD on the other hand is found in all Cannabis plants (Hemp & Marijuana). And while THC has its own benefits. Most CBD products on the market derive from the Hemp plant and not the Marijuuana plant.

    Get all your CBD supplies from : http://www.CBDSocietySupply.com