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What's the difference between THC and CBD?

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

This post is in collaboration with Apothetique Holistic. All information presented here is not meant to be used to replace traditional individual treatment plans with a qualified healthcare professional.

What is Cannabis, and what are the two most abundant cannabinoids?

Cannabis (Marijuana) comes from the plant family Cannabaceae, which includes Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. These plant species are thought to have originated from Central and Eastern Asia and have been used historically for their psychoactive and healing properties. Cannabis comes in many forms, including dried flowers, leaves, and oils. CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most commonly used cannabinoids in Cannabis products. In 2019, it is estimated that 48.2 million people in the U.S. used Cannabis at least once. Given the rising popularity of its use, it is essential to understand the potential risks and side effects of cannabinoid products.

How do THC and CBD work?

Cannabinoids exert their effects by interacting with receptors in various central nervous system regions. THC and CBD are plant-based, whereas anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2AG) are produced naturally in the human body. THC and AEA have structural similarities in activating cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors, creating high dopamine levels and causing euphoria. Conversely, CBD is non-psychoactive and has more therapeutic effects, including pain relief, seizure control, and possibly muscle recovery. CBD activates the 5HT1A receptors and inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and norepinephrine, resulting in anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. Additionally, CBD prevents adenosine uptake, which has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties.

Which has more addiction potential: THC or CBD?

THC use may result in substance use disorder and potentially addiction. Approximately 9% (up to 17% for teens) of cannabis users become dependent or addicted, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that THC “ is by far the most widely cultivated, trafficked, and abused illicit drug.” However, their stance on pure CBD is drastically different, claiming that “...cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.” Therefore, CBD can be considered a safe cannabinoid.

“ its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.”

What are the short-term and long-term effects of THC and CBD?

The effects of THC and CBD may differ for each individual. Due to the psychoactive nature of THC, the long-term effects can be more detrimental compared to CBD. The most common withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, irritability, anger, disturbed sleep, depression, or loss of appetite.

The FDA’s role in cannabis products

The FDA’s Cannabis Product Committee (CPC) is currently working to implement a regulatory cross-agency strategy on cannabis-derived products to promote and protect the public's health. The FDA has already approved cannabis-derived prescription medications, Epidiolex (Cannabidiol), Marinol (Dronabinol), and Syndros (Dronabinol). We at VeganMed are happy to share that Epidiolex and Syndros are verified to be animal-free.

Cannabis-derived prescription drugs


With increased use of THC and CBD over the past several years, there has also been growth in the number of cannabis-based products to meet consumer demand. Of the two, CBD has been deemed the safer cannabinoid for use due to its low risk for abuse and harm. Due to the public interest in CBD, the FDA is planning to form agencies to surveil the ingredients and safety of products. At VeganMed we understand how hard it may be to differentiate ingredients on product labels. We work hard to ensure that we carry only the safest animal-free products on the market.

Apothetique Holistic is on a mission to provide pharmacist-led cannabis consultations for medical cannabis patients. They provide safe and effective, clinically proven dosing parameters, and continuous follow-up until the desired effects are achieved. When it comes to the novel use of cannabis, usually as 3rd or 4th line adjuncts to traditional western medications, medical providers are equipped with resources to identify drug interactions or medical condition contraindications, thereby decreasing costs incurred with complications. Most importantly, Apothetique Holistic wants to decrease harm and toxicity from misuse or non-reputable products. They will match you with products that are third-party lab tested, with a certificate of analysis (COA), and good manufacturing practice certified (GMP). They are there for you every step of the way along your healing journey.

Contact Info:
IG: Apothetique_holistic
Tel: 650-307-5725

Co-authored by: Nina Diez, Frank Son, Ishani Wewala Panditha, Masis Ohanesyan, Lien Nguyen


Disclaimer: The product and/or information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not lab test the products to confirm that they are free from animal ingredients, and it is possible that the formulation and ingredients could have changed. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product.


Looking for certified and verified animal-free products?

Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!

If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!

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