CBD vs. THC: As popularity of cannabis-infused products grow, here's what you need to know

From CBD skin creams to bottled water, lattes and gummy worms, products infused with the cannabis-derived chemical are showing up everywhere.

U.S. retail sales of cannabis products jumped to $10.5 billion last year, a threefold increase from 2017, according to data from Arcview Group, a cannabis investment and market research firm.

As the marijuana industry marches toward legalization in several states across the country, it's likely consumers are wondering about CBD-infused products, and what makes them different than those that contain THC.

In case you're among those still in the dark, this is a handy guide to the two main chemical compounds that are found in marijuana.


Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a naturally occurring compound is one of the major components of marijuana. While CBD does not make a person feel high, it can provide a calming or relaxing sensation.

CBD can lessen or neutralize the psychoactive effects of THC as well, depending on how much of each component is ingested.

The chemical also has anti-seizure and anti-anxiety properties because it affects a different set of receptors in the brain.

The CBD market has exploded and the oil form of the chemical can be found in food, drinks and beauty products, among other items.


THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive part of pot. It's an active ingredient in the plant that makes people feel high.

The compound gets absorbed into the blood and travels to the brain, where it then attaches to cannabinoid receptors. Those receptors normally receive chemical signals from other cells for sensations such as pain, nausea and euphoria, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

But when THC attaches to that part of the brain, it can prevent those other chemicals from connecting with the receptors, diluting the sensation of pain or feeling sick.

The strength of the high a person can feel depends on the potency, or the levels of THC, in weed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.