CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the 100+ cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. Extracted fro
m the plant and consumed via products like oil, tinctures, and topical creams, the extract has been shown, although not proven, to have therapeutic effects. The conditions it supposedly can treat include anxiety, insomnia and mild to moderate pain.
Another common cannabinoid is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis plants that gets users “high” when ingested. THC is also the most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, with cannabidiol a close second.
The close connection between the two (they are both found in cannabis) has people asking questions like “can CBD get you high?” and “can CBD oil get you high?”, which are two of the questions this article will try to answer among others.
Can CBD or CBD Oil Get You High
The reasons people ask questions like “can CBD get you high?” or “can CBD oil get you high” are simple:
- CBD and THC are both cannabinoids
- They both occur naturally in the cannabis and hemp plants
Despite their connection, the two compounds have different effects on the human body. For one, THC is the only cannabinoid that has intoxicating effects (like impairing motor skills, forgetfulness, etc.), while the rest, like cannabidiol, do not.
So the short answer to the question is a resounding:
No, CBD and CBD oil doesn’t get you high.
With that said, it is also wrong to say that the chemical causes no effects.
According to the World Health Organization, any substance that affects cognition or “mental processes” can be considered “psychoactive.” Using that definition then, cannabidiol does have “psychoactive” properties as it interacts with the body’s chemistry, only in a different way than THC.
Put another way:
|Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)||Cannabidiol (CBD)|
Now that the differences between the two cannabis compounds are clear, a few questions still linger. The next question people often ask is, “if it has no intoxicating properties, what does CBD feel like”?
What Does CBD Feel Like
It is not difficult for someone to notice the effects of THC intoxication. CBD, on the other hand, is more subtle. The reasons have to do with the way each compound interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the human body.
Let’s compare what THC does to the body compared to what CBD does.
Effects of THC
When someone consumes marijuana laden with THC, the chemical interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are part of the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). THC binds itself to these receptors, stimulating increased blood flow to the hippocampus, the orbitofrontal lobe and other parts of the brain, causing:
- Feelings of pleasure or euphoria
- Altered, heightened senses (e.g., colors are brighter)
- Changes in mood
- Difficulty problem-solving
- Increased appetite
The ECS plays a significant role in regulating other body functions as well, things like balance, memory, posture, and movement. The introduction of THC disrupts these normal functions, as the chemical is similar to a compound already present in the brain, anandamide.
The CB1 and CB2 receptors recognize THC as an anandamide. They allow the bonding process, thereby disrupting normal body functions, and resulting in impairment.
Cannabidiol doesn’t stimulate the CB1 or CB2 receptors. It does the opposite.
Effects of CBD
CBD antagonizes the CB1 and CB2 receptors. It does so to such an extent that someone can take the hemp extract before consuming THC to block the inebriating effects of the latter chemical. There are times when hemp extract also does the opposite – heightening or balancing the effects of THC intoxication.
Such is the complicated relationship between the two compounds.
With that said, there is no consensus on the effects of consuming hemp extract, as people “feel” something or they do not. The other problem is that a lot of the studies suggesting that the compound has medicinal properties used animals in their testing, not humans.
The only way to gauge the possible physical effects of hemp extract is by looking at the answers people give when they are asked why they take the supplement. This 2017 cannabis industry survey asked people why they take cannabidiol:
- Anxiety (67%)
- Insomnia (60%)
- Joint pain and inflammation (52%)
- Depression (43%)
Based on these answers, a majority of people take it for its supposed:
- Calming effects
- Sedative properties
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antidepressant properties
The answers from the above survey correspond to the findings of several scientific studies done on the potential health benefits of cannabis extract.
These studies also suggested that cannabidiol can act as both an:
- Anxiolytic: a category of drug that treats anxiety
- Antidepressant: a class of drugs that are used to treat depressive disorders
One conclusion to make from these findings is that CBD makes users feel:
- Drowsy, sleepy
- Less anxious
- Less depressed
These effects, however, are not based on any conclusive study as they are purely anecdotal. One thing is for sure though; there is no “high” or intoxicating effects.
Potential Health Benefits
The above sections detailed the possible health benefits of taking hemp extract by outlining its different properties:
- Analgesic (pain relief)
Any study showing a possible link between CBD use and a health benefit only “suggests,” it doesn’t prove. Although the compound may have potential therapeutic effects, no one should replace medication prescribed by a doctor to treat any disorder or illness with CBD.
Anyone thinking of using cannabidiol as a supplement should also talk to a doctor or medical professional first, as the compound could interfere or react badly to other medications. Studies on the hemp extract point to a possibility, not conclusive proof.
The one exception is the epilepsy drug Epidiolex. Epidiolex is an FDA-approved prescription medication to treat forms of childhood epilepsy. With Epidiolex, the connection has been proven between its usage and its effects.
As it is FDA-approved, the drug is also held to much higher standards than commercially available CBD, which has no government body monitoring its cultivation, production or content.
The lack of regulation over cannabis-derived products sold in retail stores is worrying. With over-the-counter cannabidiol products, consumers run the risk of ingesting synthetic or other potentially dangerous, unknown compounds, as seen in this case in Utah.
Possible Side Effects of CBD
Side effects of hemp-extract use are rare. As the compound has no intoxicating effect and is not habit-forming, users can take a considerable amount (although not recommended) without suffering from any significant impairment.
Still, some users report feeling symptoms like:
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach
The symptoms are mild and dependent on the potency of the product. If a person were to experience more severe symptoms, such as:
- Loss of consciousness
Those symptoms would point to a tainted or synthetic cannabinoid misleadingly sold as pure cannabidiol, as was the case in Utah.
Is CBD and CBD Oil Legal to Buy?
The legality of CBD and CBD oil, much like its potential as a medicine, is still in question. The problem with CBD is that it can come from two places:
- Cannabis Sativa (hemp) = legal
- Cannabis Indica (marijuana) = illegal
In 2018, Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act that made:
- CBD extracted from hemp plants with less than 0.3% THC legal.
- CBD derived from marijuana plants, or with more than 0.3% THC illegal.
Although recreational marijuana is legal in eleven states, including Washington D.C., at the federal level, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Even though someone could walk into a store like CVS, Sephora, or Walgreens (all of which sell CBD-infused products) and buy a hemp product, they could not:
- Bring it into a state with laws against all cannabis products
- Cross the border with a cannabis product
So if you use or are planning to use the extract, make sure you know the laws in your area surrounding it use or possession, before you get it. Anyone planning on including CBD in their daily routines should also remember the following:
- Buy local: locally-grown hemp has to follow the rules and regulations surrounding hemp growing in the U.S., whereas international sources don’t follow the same guidelines
- Check lab results: while not a legal requirement, growers, and sellers post-independent lab analysis that check for potency levels as well as the presence of any contaminants
- Check the label: make sure the information on the label matches up with the lab results, and vice-versa, such as potency, or the absence of illegal THC levels
CBD: Creating More Questions Than Answers
BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research, two leading cannabis industry research firms, recently estimated that sales of CBD products would surpass $20 billion by 2024. With CBD’s popularity growing, it’s no wonder people have so many questions surrounding its use.
Confusion also comes from the fact that CBD and THC are similar, yet different in many ways. Hopefully, this article was able to point out the significant differences, while at the same time highlighting the effects each compound has on the body.