There are around 115 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the two major cannabinoids responsible for a wide range of the plant’s therapeutic properties. The health benefits offered by CBD have given rise to a booming market, and a sudden rise in the production of CBD-infused extracts.
CBD is a close cousin to THC, the cannabinoid whose reputation has been built around its ability to get a person high. Although now we know there are more benefits to using THC than just the psychoactive buzz, some people are still wondering whether it’s possible to get high off of CBD products.
CBD doesn’t get you high. Although it has a unique relationship with THC, it acts on different pathways and simply doesn’t have intoxicating properties.
CBD does have a wide range of health benefits, such as relief from anxiety, pain, depression, or insomnia, but if you’re seeking out CBD as a means to get high legally, you’re going to end up disappointed.
In this article, we explain what CBD can and cannot do.
Why Some People Think CBD Oil Gets You High
Both CBD and THC are naturally present in cannabis plants. CBD can be isolated from the plant matter as well as from the THC compound. People infuse CBD into sublingual drops, edibles, capsules, vapes, topicals, and other products.
Still, many people are afraid that CBD may cause the same effects as marijuana, as both can be found in the same plant.
However, CBD alone doesn’t have intoxicating properties, meaning it won’t cause a high.
Moreover, CBD can be derived from both marijuana and hemp plants. Unlike marijuana, hemp is naturally low in THC — it contains up to 0.3% of THC — but comes with higher concentrations of CBD.
If you purchase a hemp-derived product, you won’t get high after using it — try as you might.
Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states as long as it has no more than 0.3% THC. You can find them over the counter in dispensaries, vape shops, health retail outlets, and in online stores.
Can CBD Oil Get You High?
Again, it’s a clear “No.”
CBD doesn’t interact directly with any of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, so it won’t cause any mind-altering effects. Your motor skills will not be compromised, there’s little chance of feeling euphoric after taking CBD, and most importantly, CBD won’t backfire at you like THC when you take it in higher doses.
Once extracted from hemp, CBD can be added to several products, including oils, edibles, lotions, and vape pens.
CBD oil is one of the most commonly used products. You can take it under the tongue or add it to food, drinks, or home-made topicals.
These products can promote relaxation and lower anxiety in a natural way. Studies have found that CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotectant, so it can help reduce some symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as those related to neurological conditions, such as dementia or seizures.
High concentrations of CBD can cause an uplifting effect, but it will be nowhere near the high caused by THC.
If you take large doses of CBD at a time, you can experience some mild side effects, including dizziness, dry mouth, or changes in appetite. You may also feel sedated, but again, you remain completely sober.
CBD vs. THC
According to some sources, the cannabis plant contains at least 150 phytocannabinoids, of which 115 have been identified and isolated. THC and CBD dominate the cannabinoid profile of most cannabis plants found in nature.
Researchers around the globe are currently investigating the effects of these cannabinoids; their health benefits as well as potential side effects. From education to cooking and gardening, cannabis has left its mark on modern civilization and our contemporary culture.
Here’s a simple way to understand the difference between THC and CBD.
CBD doesn’t have a direct relationship with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. It can influence the endocannabinoid system to modulate the activity of these receptors, but it doesn’t bind to them.
So, by binding to these receptors, THC exerts certain actions on the brain, inducing euphoria, deep relaxation, and the sharpening of senses. At higher doses, THC may induce lethargy, a significant boost of appetite, and influence cognitive functioning.
When you want to choose a CBD product that won’t get you high, it’s important that you understand the difference between hemp and marijuana — the two plants that can be used for making cannabis extracts.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
The Cannabis Sativa L. genus covers two types of plants —hemp and marijuana.
As written before, marijuana contains high concentrations of THC and low-to-high levels of CBD depending on the strain. There are around 700 different marijuana strains out there.
Hemp, on the other hand, has only a trace amount of THC — no more than 0.3% — and higher concentrations of CBD.
Originally, hemp plants have been grown for their sturdy stalks and stems. However, since growers realized that the federal government no longer banned the many other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, they have begun cross-breeding different cannabis strains to increase their CBD levels and reduce the amount of THC to the federally accepted limit.
So, when a company makes CBD from hemp, it’s not necessarily the type of cannabis used by our ancestors to make ropes, clothes, and food. CBD-rich plants are nowadays nearly identical in many aspects to the ones that produce THC. They look similar and almost smell the same way.
The only way to distinguish marijuana-derived CBD oil from hemp-derived oil is through content analysis in a laboratory. That’s the same lab analysis that tests for CBD and THC ratios, as well as pesticides, solvents, microbes, mycotoxins, and heavy metals.
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD and THC are phytocannabinoids; “Phyto” means “plant” in Greek. Therefore, phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids naturally found in plants. The cannabis plant is the only plant on Earth that produces significant amounts of phytocannabinoids, as opposed to endocannabinoids. Again, “endo” means “from the inside” in Greek, so endocannabinoids refer to the molecules produced inside your body.
All humans have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) — the major regulatory network — consisting of a set of receptors found throughout the body. The ECS communicates with the brain thanks to its native cannabinoids, but it can also use the plant-derived cannabinoids that are ingested through CBD oil. The ECS responds to these compounds and thus gains increased capabilities in terms of maintaining the internal balance between all critical functions, known as homeostasis.
The ECS consists of two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. These receptors could be key to understanding why CBD doesn’t get you high while THC does.
Health Benefits of CBD
CBD has an impressive list of health benefits. Some of these science-backed uses of CBD can help you feel relaxed, which can feel a bit like a high, although it doesn’t make you intoxicated.
Research shows CBD is beneficial for easing the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It might also change the way our brain receives pain signals on top of reducing inflammation.
CBD has recently become the main ingredient of the only FDA-approved CBD-based drug Epidiolex. The drug has been used for treating epileptic seizures since 2018.
Moreover, CBD also shows promise as a way for doctors to help people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. People who use CBD-rich cannabis strains also report less intense effects of THC-induced high, a potential side effect of the cannabinoid.
As more scientists continue to fuel more resources into studies on cannabis- and hemp-derived CBD, doctors and healthcare providers will be more knowledgeable about how CBD works and who may benefit from it.
Is CBD Really Non-Psychoactive?
This is another question that we need to clarify. Aside from searching if CBD can get you high, you’re probably wondering if it’s really non-psychoactive.
Well, it’s a bit complicated from a scientific standpoint.
For example, studies show CBD can have an anti-anxiety effect. This research paper from Brazil published in 2019 concluded that CBD oil may reduce chronic anxiety in subjects. The researchers tested human participants in a simulated public speaking test with different doses of CBD against a placebo.
When something influences your anxiety levels, it falls into the definition of “psychoactive”, which means “affecting one’s mood and behavior.” If you feel less anxious, you’re in a better mood, so technically speaking, CBD is psychoactive.
The word we should be looking at is “intoxication”.
Psychoactive vs. Intoxication
So, taking CBD oil doesn’t get you high, but CBD itself is psychoactive.
Does it make sense?
That’s because CBD isn’t an intoxicant.
Intoxicants produce a state of compromised mental and physical ability, like alcohol, recreational drugs, and THC-rich cannabis strains, as well as many other effects depending on the type of substance.
A psychoactive compound, on the other hand, merely changes a person’s mental state by influencing how the brain and central nervous system perform. That involves a wide range of substances like chocolate, caffeine, CBD, and other things that generally don’t have mind-altering effects.
One thing to remember is that all intoxicants are psychoactive, but not all psychoactive compounds are intoxicants.
What Are the Side Effects of CBD Oil?
CBD is a safe compound with a very short list of mild side effects. Even doses as high as 1500 mg daily are well-tolerated in humans.
That said, taking too much CBD oil at a time can cause dryness in the mouth, sedation, dizziness, changes in appetite, and diarrhea.
Still, these side effects are nearly non-existent in regular doses.
Full-Spectrum CBD and Drug Test
Full-spectrum CBD is considered superior to isolate-based products due to the synergy provided by all compounds naturally occurring in hemp. This synergy is referred to by scientists as the entourage effect. However, since full-spectrum products contain traces of THC, you might be wondering if CBD oil can make you fail a drug test.
The short answer is: no, it can’t.
The long answer: you’re in the clear as long as you don’t take between 1600 and 2000 mg CBD on a daily basis. You would need to breach that threshold to test false-positive for THC. But even if you happen to be unlucky and fail a drug test, you can inform your employer that you take CBD oil and ask for another test.
How to Know That You’re Getting the Right Product?
Whether you’re shopping online or looking for CBD oil somewhere near you, follow these steps to make sure you actually buy a CBD product without high-inducing properties:
- Buy hemp-derived CBD: as mentioned, CBD can be extracted from hemp and marijuana, so if you want a product that will have little to no THC inside, hemp is your best bet.
- Choose CO2-extracted products: CO2 extraction is the best method to produce pure and potent CBD oils without using additional heat or solvents. If a company uses CO2, it means the production team is dedicated to quality because the equipment required to perform CO2 extraction is very expensive.
- Only purchase from companies that test their products in third-party labs: independent laboratories will analyze the CBD and THC content of the product; they will also look for potentially dangerous chemicals such as pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, or fertilizers. A Certificate of Analysis from a third-party lab ensures that you’re buying a legitimate, legal product that is safe to consume.
Final Thoughts: CBD & Getting High = No Match
CBD has many positive effects on our health. According to current research, it has more than 65 molecular targets, so it’s not a surprise that CBD oil is such a versatile supplement.
Although CBD oil contains other cannabinoids on top of CBD, including trace amounts of THC, it cannot get you high.
First, there’s not enough THC in hemp-derived CBD oil to cause the user to experience the intoxicating buzz.
Secondly, the molecular structure of CBD prevents it from interacting directly with the CB1 receptor in the brain, which is what THC does to get you high.
CBD can make you feel relaxed, less in stress, and more in-the-zone, but these sensations shouldn’t be confused with the marijuana high.
If you take hemp-derived CBD supplements, you can reap the health benefits of cannabis while staying completely sober.