What's the difference between CBD oil vs. THC oil?

Is CBD the same as cannabis oil?

You've heard of CBD oil (if not, start with our comprehensive CBD guide), and you've also heard of cannabis oil, but you may be unsure which is which, or if they're the same thing. You’ve probably seen information here and there—a short clip on a news story or a suggestion from a friend—but if anything, that's left you more confused. At Vitality CBD, we’re here to set the record straight! 

First and foremost, cannabis oil is not necessarily the same as CBD oil. Since cannabis oil is a blanket term for any and all oils derived from the cannabis plant, it could be used to describe any number of different byproducts. There are hemp-derived oils, hemp seed oils, THC oils and CBD oils, and any number of other bizarre concoctions that technically all come from the cannabis plant.

Admittedly CBD is in vogue currently, which means that it's likely that if someone refers to a cannabis oil they’re talking about a CBD product. However, there’s another end of the spectrum that often comes under the banner of cannabis oil: THC oil.

We’ve already laid out the differences between hemp oil and hemp seed oil, so let’s discuss how we can distinguish between CBD oil and THC oil. First up: what’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?

CBD: Hemp vs. marijuana

There are many ways of distinguishing between types of cannabis. Cannabis itself just refers to the overall plant family. It’s a genus, in much the same way as Eucalyptus and Rhododendron, meaning it covers a large spread of different strains and species. The two primary species are sativa and indica, but the most important differentiating factor for users comes down to the individual strain.

Since there’s been a lot of terminology thrown at you so far, it might be time to step back even further. The key difference between strains of cannabis from a user perspective is the balance of two chemicals: CBD and THC. These chemicals are both cannabinoids, a type of compound that was first discovered in the cannabis family.

Hemp plant close-up

THC is the best known cannabinoid because it induces many of the effects you typically associated with cannabis: the “stoned” effect, and paranoia. By contrast, CBD has been shown to not induce those effects. This is why trying CBD has become such an object of interest across the world in the past couple of years.

From a consumer perspective this is what matters most when discussing different cannabis strains. The easiest distinction is to split strains between hemp and marijuana. Hemp covers any plants grown specifically for industrial purposes e.g. rope, paper, clothing and biofuel. In contrast marijuana is the terminology used for plants grown for purely recreational purposes.

The main difference beyond intended use is the divide in CBD and THC levels. Since THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, plants grown under the marijuana banner will have high THC levels. Conversely, because CBD isn’t psychotropic you’ll find it in high levels in hemp plants, which simultaneously have low THC levels.

It makes sense then that THC oil is predominantly harvested from the recreational strains, while CBD products are largely extracted from industrial hemp. Both compounds are then subject to further processes that ensure the levels of either cannabinoid is adjusted accordingly, but you can chart the journey of each oil right back to the way in which the plants were bred.

CBD oil vs. THC oil

We’ve established why terminology like cannabis oil can lead to confusion, but where do we actually stand on what it is? In our experience, in countries where THC is legal you’ll generally see hemp oil referring to any oil that has a high percentage of CBD, and cannabis oil referring to oils with high THC, though this is very subjective. As such, the most important keywords to look for with each product are THC and CBD.

Since recreational cannabis is generally illegal throughout much of the world still, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll see oils being advertised by their THC content. As such, cannabis oil as a term is often used to refer to CBD oils, with THC oil reserved for products in an unregulated market with an illegal level of THC content. In countries like the U.S. however, it’s more of a catch-all name.

As mentioned before, the major difference in purpose between oils with high CBD and oils with high THC is their desired effect. THC oils will largely be used recreationally for a high that can be sustained throughout the day as an alternative to smoking cannabis. CBD oils, however, have no psychoactive properties, and so are never used to get high.

Significantly, CBD oils can contain THC, and likewise THC oils can contain CBD. From a legal perspective, most countries limit the amount of THC in the hemp extract used for CBD oils to 0.3% (in the UK it’s 0.2%), but in countries where THC is freely available the lines blur yet further. If you’re concerned about THC content make sure you look for CBD oils with a guarantee of 0% THC, like our Pure CBD Oral Spray.

CBD oils and hemp leaf

Cannabis oil vs. CBD oil

Decoding the terminology surrounding cannabis oil can be confusing, but it’s important that you first acknowledge what you want from your product. If you’re looking to get high, then CBD oil is not for you. However, if you’ve done your research into CBD, then make sure you look for oils that foreground how much CBD is in each bottle. Our advice would be to avoid searching for terms like cannabis oil since it only confuses matters.

This blurring of terminology is why we always put the CBD of our product in mg on the front of each bottle. We also provide full lab reports for each batch, meaning you can find the exact chemical profile of each CBD oil. Check out our full CBD range, safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what’s in each product.

Learn more about CBD oils

Our ongoing commitment to creating high-quality CBD products has its basis in our knowledge and research. If you want to find out more about how we harness the natural synergy of the hemp plant through industry best practices, read our 4-step guide for CBD

You can check out our full CBD range here, which includes CBD oils, CBD E-liquids, CBD Cosmetics, CBD Edibles, and CBD Topicals!

For any further questions you have about what cannabis oil is, and how CBD oil fits into the situation, our experienced team are always on hand to field any questions. You can reach out to us on our contact page.