There are presently hundreds of known compounds in the cannabis plant, over 100 of which have been identified as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are essentially chemicals that interact with our body’s biochemical system to promote homeostasis (the balancing of biological functions such as appetite, mobility, and more). They do this by joining the cannabinoid receptors in the body and brain.   

The two most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC. 

Although our article title, CBD vs THC, suggests that we are attempting to decipher which compound is better, there really isn't a correct answer because both compounds can provide potential health benefits.  

Known specifically as phytocannabinoids, both CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system and the CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, the ways in which the cannabinoids interact with these cannabinoid receptors vary, thus resulting in differing outcomes. 

Additionally, both THC and CBD are currently making incredible strides in the world of holistic health and wellness in similar as well as different ways.

In this article, we hope to shed light on a plant that is so often misunderstood and reveal to our readers just how beneficial it truly can be. Marijuana and the cannabis plant as a whole often get a bad rap. 

The more we know and spread the knowledge about THC and CBD, however, the more we can better understand why cannabis is skyrocketing in popularity in the holistic space and how it can potentially support a normal health regime for you and even your pets! That’s right, CBD for dogs and cats is widely available these days, making it an exciting time for pet parents who want to help their furbabies maintain good health. 

What is THC?

A closeup picture of a hemp plant

THC is what comes to the average person’s mind when they hear the word “weed.” 

When people think about marijuana and experiencing that euphoric "high" state, they’re thinking about THC, even if they don’t realize it. However, THC is so much more than a way to channel that euphoric, psychoactive feeling.

Chemically, THC reacts with the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1). The CB1 receptors are found primarily in the central nervous system and in the brain. The "high" or psychoactive experience associated with recreational or medical marijuana is caused by activating CB1 receptors.

THC is found in the seeds, stalks, and flowers of both marijuana and hemp (the two cousins in the cannabis plant family), although it primarily dominates in the marijuana plant. In fact, there is less than 0.3% THC found in the hemp plant.

What Does THC Stand For?

Despite how known the herb is, not many people know what THC stands for. THC stands for “tetrahydrocannabinol.” However, it's not likely you'll hear THC called by its full name. 

Does THC Get You High?.

THC is what creates that "high," euphoric feeling for individuals. 

When THC infiltrates the brain, it stimulates the cells, activates the cannabinoid receptors, and causes a dopamine release. The activation of the cannabinoid receptors can have several different effects on the brain, including psychoactive effects. 

THC is the component responsible for why marijuana sometimes gets a bit of a bad rap.

THC Effects

The effects of THC are typically a feeling of euphoria. 

However, some strains of THC can give an individual bursts of energy. Many artists give credit to THC for their creativity and coming up with concepts that they wouldn't have otherwise thought of without help from the herb. Even in strains where THC gives the individual bursts of energy, however, the ultimate result is a mellow, relaxing experience.

With strong strains of THC, people may experience the euphoric feeling within 10 minutes. In other strains, it may take up to an hour or longer for the high to fully set in.

Typical effects of THC include:

  • Increase in appetite

  • Relaxation

  • Euphoria, or feeling "high"

  • Drowsiness

  • Relief from discomfort 

A pug explaining what CBD is with a chalkboard.

What is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid that has been making great strides in terms of its potential health benefits to an individual. Even better, it doesn’t cause the same psychoactive effects that THC does, and is therefore more typically used for the purposes of supporting and maintaining healthy function in the body. 

(Of course, as we discussed, THC, as well as the marijuana plant, can also provide potential health benefits. However, they are commonly still only considered for the purposes of "getting high," though we are fighting to erase that stereotype).

While CBD can be derived from both hemp and marijuana plants, it dominates in the hemp plant. 

Hemp is likely already a part of your daily life, whether you realize it or not. Hemp is used in fabrics, clothing materials, fuel, and food sources. In fact, you may even find hemp milk at your local grocery store. 

Because of the fact that CBD can be derived from the hemp plant, it is legal in all 50 states, thus making CBD products available for everyone's consumption and benefit.

What Does CBD Stand For?

CBD stands for “cannabidiol,” though you’ll find that it’s usually always referred to simply as CBD online and in products. 

Does CBD Get You High?

CBD that is derived from the hemp plant has a THC level of less than 0.3%, making it virtually impossible for an individual to experience psychoactive effects from any CBD oil or CBD product. 

Because CBD is considered to be non-psychoactive, it largely differs from THC, which is psychoactive. Again, CBD will not give a consumer any sort of intoxicated feeling. Even CBD that is derived from the marijuana plant has very low levels of THC, although it is only able to be legally purchased in states where marijuana has been legalized.

Effects of CBD

There are typically no side-effects with CBD. 

Some individuals report slight drowsiness or a dry mouth, but usually, CBD works to ease any discomfort without adding any additional effects or feelings.


It is truly difficult to say whether one cannabinoid is better than the other, so instead, let's review their differences. 

One of the biggest differences between THC and CBD is whether or not the cannabinoid will cause a "high" or euphoric state. In other words, whether the plant's effects are psychoactive or non-psychoactive. 

As aforementioned, THC is psychoactive whereas CBD is not.

Another difference between CBD and THC is the source from which they’re typically derived. 

THC is found predominantly in the marijuana species of cannabis plant whereas CBD is found predominantly in the hemp species of the cannabis plant.

Here's where a huge misconception about THC and CBD comes into play. There are some individuals who still view both THC and CBD as "weed," and in their minds, "weed" equals "bad." 

Therefore, we want to give a quick breakdown of the often misunderstood cannabis plant in hopes that we can help educate anyone who is still trying to navigate the world of CBD. 

Someone holding a cannabis leaf up toward the blue sky.

The Cannabis Plant and Its Two Big Players

The marijuana plant and the hemp plant both fall under the same species of plant, Cannabis Sativa L. (known more commonly simple as the cannabis plant). While they are closely related, there are several differences to take note of.

As we mentioned above, the marijuana plant is responsible for THC while the hemp plant is responsible for CBD. 

That said, CBD can also come from the marijuana plant but it’s present at much lower levels.  And THC can be found in the hemp plant as well, but only at a level of less than 0.3%. 

Finally, products derived from the marijuana plant are only legal in states where marijuana has been legalized, while products from the hemp plant are legal in all 50 states.

CBD vs THC: Side Effects

The side effects associated with CBD and THC vary depending on the source, the strain, and which of the cannabinoids is consumed.

Side Effects of CBD

There are virtually no side effects associated with CBD. Some individuals occasionally report a dry mouth or drowsiness that subsides fairly quickly. 

In fact, CBD has proved to not only be safe for human use but also for animals, with pet parents only reporting side effects such as slightly lethargy when CBD is first introduced.

Side Effects of THC

While some individuals have reported negative (or generally undesirable) side effects after using THC, it is not possible to have a fatal overdose. 

However, some studies have found that certain cannabis strains that are high in THC can possibly cause negative, long-term psychiatric effects when used by adolescents. These long-term psychiatric effects include psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.

Here is a list of potential side effects connected to THC: 

  • Giddiness

  • Drowsiness

  • Anxiousness | Paranoia

  • Memory impairment

  • Time distortion

  • Heightened sensations

  • Confusion

  • Disorientation

  • Clumsiness | Coordination problems

  • Fainting

  • Dizziness

  • Increased heart rate

  • Seizures

  • Dry mouth

  • Red eyes

Individuals who are taking THC should be aware of the potential risks of impairment. 

Individuals who are taking THC should also not drive or operate machinery while taking it.

In the United States, the legality of the two cannabinoids depends on the concentration and the source. 

The laws, obviously, vary in other parts of the world.

THC (The Marijuana Plant)

In 2014, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize marijuana for recreational use. 

Additionally, in 2018, Canada followed suit in the legalization of marijuana products and THC oil. 

In the United States, however, marijuana is federally illegal. That said, marijuana is legal for recreational use in nine states plus D.C., and the herb is legal for medicinal use in 20 other states. 

The laws are changing every day. We can only hope that eventually, all 50 states will recognize the potential health benefits the powerful marijuana plant can bring to people.

CBD (The Hemp Plant)

CBD products are legal in all 50 states so long as it is derived from the hemp plant

CBD that is derived from the marijuana plant follows the aforementioned laws and regulations.

THC and CBD: Better Together?

Recent studies are finding that combining all the cannabis plant’s compounds (cannabinoids--including both CBD as well as safe, small amounts of THC, flavonoids, terpenoids) work exceptionally better than using any of the compounds individually. The concept is referred to as the ‘entourage effect.’

The combination can have wonderful potential health benefits in people, including enhancing physical and mental well-being, helping to support cognitive function, possibly reducing free radical damage, and supporting cellular health. 

THC and CBD: Changing Holistic Health

THC and CBD are both responsible for making groundbreaking and life-changing differences in the holistic health space. 

And as we’ve discussed, the side effects associated with CBD are virtually non-existent. 

The fact that we have more all-natural options than ever in supporting our health is making a world of difference for so many individuals and their pets.

A few vials of CBD oil next to the hemp plant.

Cannabis Oil

If any of our readers are interested in exploring the world of THC and CBD, we recommend looking into cannabis oils. 

Of course, depending on the legality of marijuana in your particular state, you will likely be purchasing CBD hemp oil. (Again, THC oil is only legal where marijuana is legal.)  

CBD hemp oil is a great way to integrate CBD into your daily life. We encourage you to give cannabis oil a shot.

Hemp Seed Oil

While it is not a source of CBD, we wanted to give our readers just one more reason to love the hemp plant: hemp seed oil, which is derived from the seeds of the hemp plant. 

Hemp seed oil contains the following nutrients:

  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids

  • Amino acids

  • Fiber

  • Vitamins and minerals

Again, while it is not a source of CBD, it still has great benefits. 

But please note: while hemp seed oil can offer YOU potential health benefits, it should never be given to your pet, as adverse side effects can occur. 

Speaking of pets… you must be wondering: can dogs take CBD? Is CBD oil good for cats? 

A pack of golden and black dogs running in an open field with trees behind them.

CBD for Our Furry Friends

With all of the talk about how beneficial CBD can be for humans, it was only a matter of time before experts began wondering about the potential benefits of the powerful herb for our furry companions. 

Incredibly, studies are continuing to find that CBD can have amazing potential health benefits for our dogs and cats.

Where To Buy CBD for Dogs Online

Comparable to hemp CBD oil and products for human use, hemp CBD for dogs is also legal in all 50 states. 

With that in mind, one of the most important things to know about CBD is this: not all CBD is created equally. 

We encourage pet parents to do their homework when it comes to purchasing a CBD product. 

Here are just a few things to look out for: 

  • Make sure that the CBD comes from a respected, reputable company that’s in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.  

  • The CBD should be organic, non-GMO, soy free, 100% natural, full spectrum, and human grade. It should also be made from the hemp plant. 

  • Only select CBD products for your pet that are certified with the NASC. Companies with a certification from the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) undergo rigorous quality audits to ensure they're meeting the highest current standards in the animal health product industry. Purchasing CBD from an NASC-compliant company ensures you're doing business with a company that is both ethical and 100% dedicated to providing you with safe and high-standard products. This is significant, considering the alarming number of CBD products on the market today that actually contain ZERO CBD, according to a recent study.  

  • Finally, only purchase CBD that has been lab tested to ensure quality and safety. The company you do business with should be able to furnish you with a certificate of analysis (COA) upon request, which is a laboratory report of the product’s chemical make-up. This allows you to make sure that the THC levels in the CBD product are low enough to not affect your canine friend. 

Here at Honest Paws, we’re completely transparent about what goes into our CBD products. In fact, we’re proud to show the exact ingredients we use and the quality assurance you can expect from us! 

Honest Paws Quality Seals Big Banner

We use 100% pure full spectrum CBD hemp oil from hemp plants cultivated in Colorado. Made in the USA and thoroughly lab tested, we guarantee the quality of our products. 

Our CBD products are human grade, organic, 100% natural, and completely vegan. Additionally, they’re non-GMO, soy free, dairy free, corn free, and gluten free as well!  

And we’re extremely proud to be certified with the National Animal Supplement Council for all our products. The organization came into existence when it was clear that no one was regulating the animal supplement industry. We know your animal companion is a part of your family, though, and should only receive the best quality when it comes to health and wellness. Our NASC certification is part of our dedication to ensuring we only provide you with the safest and highest standard of products. 

Not many companies can say the same about their products!

Tetrahydrocannabinol THC for Dogs

THC for dogs (and all other animals) is an absolute NO NO. 

While CBD has proven to be safe for animal consumption, THC has not. Additionally, while THC will not get your dog "high," THC can make your dog extremely sick. 

So when you are looking for CBD oil for dogs or for your cat, make sure it’s derived from the hemp plant and that the THC levels are less than 0.3%!

It is also critically important that pet parents make sure to keep their THC oil and products far away from and out-of-reach of their four-legged friends. Accidents can happen, so it’s better to be safe than sorry by carefully storing away your THC products. 

Chocolate Labrador in the kitchen.

CBD VS THC: The Bottom Line

There is a lot to be said about the potential of the cannabis plant. 

Both the marijuana plant and the hemp plants can provide potential health benefits that are quickly changing the world of holistic health, especially for those interested in all-natural approaches to supporting healthy function in their bodies and in the bodies of their beloved pets! 

In order for things to continue progressing in the world of CBD, however, it is paramount that we all help change the dialogue in regards to cannabis. 

Only then can more people and pets experience the potential benefits of this powerful herb! 


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