CBD is a cannabinoid that is found in the marijuana plant. Marijuana also contains the cannabinoid THC, which is the component of the plant that produces a high. The main difference between CBD and THC is that CBD does not produce any high and THC does. Both CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system in the body but elicit different effects.
The endocannabinoid system of the body is the signaling system that is responsible for regulating several functions, some of which are: pain, appetite, mood, memory, immune response, and sleep . Since the chemical makeup of THC and CBD cannabinoids are similar to the body’s own endocannabinoids, they are able to interact and alter release of neurotransmitters to the brain.
As mentioned above, THC and CBD vary in terms of psychoactive effect (the high feeling). Though both cannabinoids come from the same plant, cannabis, THC dominates the makeup of marijuana and CBD dominates the makeup of hemp. This is why marijuana is harvested primarily for its THC content and Hemp, on the other hand, is harvested for its CBD content.
CBD and THC are both considered structural isomers which means they are the same in chemical composition, but their atomic arrangements differ . Their molecular weight and formula are the same, but the way their atoms are arranged changes the effect each cannabinoid has on the endocannabinoid system. Ultimately, THC binds with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system while CBD has little affinity for either cannabinoid receptor. CBD has been found to interact with non-cannabinoid receptors such as 5-HT1A and TRPV-1.
Both marijuana and THC are both listed in the US Controlled Substance Act and are federally illegal though more than half of the states in the union have passed their own cannabis laws that permit medical marijuana and/or marijuana for recreational use. CDB is not listed under the Controlled Substance Act and is therefore legal in the US (as long as it is extracted from hemp and not marijuana).
Marijuana and CBD have just recently begun to be studied by scientists due to its recent legalization in many states. The effects on the body and possible side effects are still being discovered. What we do know is that THC produces psychoactive effects and that CBD does not. Also, CBD has been used for therapeutic reasons while THC does not seem to have the same effects. Ultimately, we still have a lot to learn about all of the parts of the cannabis plant.