THC and CBD both come from cannabis, but they have different effects on the body and mind, and they aren’t always legal. Learn more. With so many health benefits that CBD provides, it’s natural to wonder whether or not CBD oil can get you high. Is CBD Oil really non-psychoactive or just non-intoxicating? Wondering if CBD gets you high? The answer boils down to distinguishing between psychoactive vs intoxicating. This article clears up potential confusion and explains the effects of CBD on the brain in simple words.
CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?
You’re probably hearing a lot about cannabis and marijuana products as they become legal in more and more states. Two natural compounds are getting the most attention: CBD and THC.
Cannabis is a plant that makes a thick substance full of compounds called cannabinoids. There are more than 100 of these chemicals in cannabis. They cause drug-like reactions in your body.
CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis products.
THC and CBD are in both marijuana and hemp. Marijuana contains much more THC than hemp, while hemp has a lot of CBD.
CBD and THC have the same chemical formula — 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. The difference lies in the way the atoms are arranged. That gives CBD and THC different chemical properties, and they affect your body differently.
Both CBD and THC work with receptors that release neurotransmitters in your brain. They can affect things like pain, mood, sleep, and memory.
How CBD and THC Affect the Body
THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. It’s what makes people feel “high.”
We have two types of cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. THC binds with receptors — mostly in the brain — that control pain, mood, and other feelings. That’s why THC can make you feel euphoric and give you that so-called high.
CBD doesn’t cause that high. Instead, it’s thought to work with other elements in the body linked to feelings of well-being.
People take CBD products to help with everything from arthritis and Crohn’s disease to diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Some say it helps with anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. So far, there’s little evidence that CBD helps with any of these.
The FDA has approved one CBD-based drug. Epidiolex is a treatment for several severe forms of rare childhood epilepsy.
CBD is a hot topic for researchers. The National Institutes of Health clinical trials database shows more than 160 trials involving CBD that are either active or recruiting.
Some states authorize the use of THC as part of medical marijuana, THC may help ease things like:
- Problems with concentration
- Memory loss
Side effects from CBD can include:
- Upset stomach
CBD can also change the way some medicines work. Talk with your doctor about it.
Laws are changing all the time on cannabis. Many states allow medical marijuana, containing THC, for several uses, but it is still illegal under federal law. Some states have made recreational marijuana with THC legal for personal use. But it’s also illegal under U.S. law.
As part of the Farm Bill in December 2018, Congress legalized hemp. But there are still rules about where and how you can sell products that contain CBD. You can’t sell some across state lines, for example. All CBD products are illegal if they’re sold with the promise of medical benefits.
Check your state’s laws before buying products with CBD or THC.
National Cancer Institute: “Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ) — Patient Version.”
Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience: “Cannabis, cannabinoids, and health.”
Echo Connection: “4 Differences Between CBD and THC,” “What Are the Differences Between CBD and THC?”
American Council on Science and Health: “CBD And THC – The Only Difference Is One Chemical Bond.”
Harvard Health Publishing: “Answers to the top questions about cannabis extract,” “Medical marijuana.”
FDA: “FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy.”
U.S. National Library of Medicine ClinicalTrials.gov: “CBD.”
UW Health: “Do You Vomit When You Smoke Pot? Here’s Why.”
Alcohol and Drug Foundation: “Medical cannabis.”
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Marijuana and Cannabinoids.”
Does CBD Oil Get You High?
It’s challenging to go a day without hearing about the health benefits of CBD oil.
People are using CBD (cannabidiol) for everything from anxiety to depression, pain, seizures, inflammation, insomnia, and skin conditions.
Many prominent studies have highlighted CBD as a safe and effective alternative for conventional treatment options when it comes to the above health problems.
But can CBD oil get you high?
CBD naturally occurs in cannabis plants, so it’s natural to ask this question.
However, the type of cannabis used for making CBD oil plays an important role in whether or not the product will get you high.
In this article, we’ll clear up any confusion about the effects of CBD. We’ll also cover the differences between CBD and THC to help you understand how these two compounds influence your brain.
Can CBD Oil Get You High?
The short answer is no.
This is one of the misconceptions about CBD that must be turned around. CBD oil doesn’t get you high as long as it contains up to 0.3% THC.
CBD doesn’t have intoxicating properties. It can make you feel calm and relaxed, but these effects aren’t even close to what you get from consuming marijuana.
However, not all CBD oils are created equal.
Some CBD products are produced from marijuana plants, and as such, they may contain a significant amount of THC (5% and up). These products can produce a psychoactive high. However, they also contain high levels of CBD due to selective breeding of the strains used for extraction, so the high will be more balanced.
Speaking of CBD and THC, let’s have a look at how these compounds interact with our bodies and with each other.
Differences Between CBD vs. THC
Understanding the difference between CBD and THC should clear up any confusion you may have about the possibility of getting high from CBD oil.
Let’s discuss THC first.
What is THC?
THC is the only compound in the cannabis plant that can make you feel high. Once it enters your circulatory system, it binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain and spinal cord, producing sensations of euphoria, deep relaxation, and changes in sensory perception.
THC can act on our mood, memory, pain perception, and other important functions such as fertility or appetite.
The nature of THC is biphasic, which means that low to moderate doses can ease anxiety and relieve stress, whereas higher doses can elevate anxious feelings and trigger paranoid thinking patterns.
What is CBD?
CBD won’t get you high in a way that THC does, as it doesn’t have a direct bond with any of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.
Instead, CBD sends signals to the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce more of its endocannabinoids and help the body maintain a state of balance between all biological processes. This balance is known as homeostasis.
CBD can reduce anxiety, ease pain, reduce inflammation, improve joint function, help with attention problems, promote neuroprotection, and more.
CBD also blocks the sites of receptors to which THC wants to bind, reducing its psychoactivity. At the same time, CBD has been shown to enhance the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of THC. On the other hand, CBD extracts need, at least some amount of THC, to unlock the full potential of CBD. The synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis plant is referred to as “the entourage effect.”
What Does CBD Feel Like?
Now that you know what CBD can’t do — it can’t get you high — you’re probably wondering what to expect when you take CBD oil for the first time.
Like we said, CBD doesn’t have a direct affinity with any cannabinoid receptors, although it acts on more than 65 identified molecular pathways.
CBD signals the ECS to release more endocannabinoids while slowing down their breakdown. This, in turn, allows more of your native cannabinoids to circulate in the body.
Most users describe the effects of CBD as a surge of unwinding sensation combined with relief running through the body and mind when inhaled or taken sublingually.
Many first-time users report first results within 15–30 minutes after taking CBD oil, or within 2–5 minutes after inhalation. Oral products such as edibles and capsules need more time to show their effects, usually up to 120 minutes.
To sum up, CBD doesn’t get you high, but instead:
- Makes you feel relaxed
- Improves your focus
- Promotes a healthy response to stress
- Helps you stay calm
Most of the time, you’ll hear people saying that CBD is non-psychoactive when they refer to its effects.
Or does it simply lack intoxicating properties?
Is CBD Really Non-Psychoactive?
Since CBD doesn’t get you high, you might think that it’s not psychoactive.
Well, let’s take a look at the definition of the word “psychoactive.”
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, psychoactive means affecting the mind and behavior.
While CBD won’t directly affect your behavior, it positively does affect the mind. For example, by helping you cope with stress and reducing anxiety, CBD can help you get in the right mood, stay productive, and less likely to have temper tantrums.
CBD is psychoactive.
But so can be your friends; or your electronic equipment; or anything that makes you happy or angry for that matter.
There’s a fine line between psychoactive and intoxicating.
What Type of CBD Oil Can Get You High? How Are CBD Oils Made?
Most CBD oils are produced from hemp plants, which are specifically bred for their high CBD content and only a negligible amount of THC.
What do we mean by negligible amounts of THC?
Hemp contains 0.3% of THC or less per dry mass, whereas marijuana may contain anywhere between 5–30% THC.
If you have a product with less than 0.3%, it won’t get you high.
That’s why hemp-derived CBD oil is federally legal. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has become an agricultural commodity and can be grown for a variety of uses, including health supplements such as CBD extracts.
Despite different sources, all CBD oils are produced using the top-standard extraction method — CO2 extraction. This technology involves pressurized CO2 that changes its state from liquid to gas during the extraction process. It strips the beneficial compounds off the original plant without additional heat or solvents. CO2 extraction yields pure and consistently potent extracts.
Other Cannabinoids that Could Make You Feel High
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains other compounds on top of cannabidiol, including minor cannabinoids and terpenes.
The majority of cannabinoids are non-intoxicating, but there are two trace molecules that can produce similar effects to THC. Such as Delta 8 THC, and this cannabinoid can get you high.
THCV has a similar molecular structure to THC. Since it can only be found in trace amounts, it would have to be isolated in larger amounts to get the user high. THCV alone can have an intoxicating effect, but not in a way that could cause or worsen anxiety. In fact, THCV elevates the mood and enhances focus while mitigating the intoxication from THC.
Other health benefits of THCV include its ability to reduce paranoia, stimulate bone growth, and slow down the development of neurodegenerative disorders.
CBN starts to form when you expose THC to heat and oxygen, which is why high levels of CBN can be found in poorly stored or aged cannabis. While not intoxicating per say, CBN induces potent sedating effects, which get strengthened in the presence of THC.
Marijuana CBD Oil Can Get You High
Like we said, CBD can be extracted from hemp and marijuana plants.
Although marijuana-derived CBD oil is produced through the same processes as hemp-derived CBD, it contains more THC — between 5–30% — depending on the THC content of the strain used for extraction.
Marijuana CBD oil is only legal in states that have approved marijuana for medical or recreational use. Make sure that you’re familiar with the cannabis laws in your state to avoid crossing the law.
Hemp CBD Oil Can’t Get You High
Since there are only trace amounts of THC in hemp-derived CBD oils, they can’t get you high.
However, you can still experience a wide range of health benefits associated with using cannabinoids. People use CBD oil to feel focused, relaxed, invigorated, pain-free, and better rested on top of many other goals.
Unlike marijuana CBD oil, hemp-derived products are legal in all 50 states. You can find them online as well as in local head shops, vape stores, pharmacies, and health retail outlets.
CBD Oil and Getting High: The Bottom Line
CBD oil can do many great things for your health. What it cannot do, however, is get you high — as long as it contains 0.3% THC or less.
Hemp is grown to boost the CBD content in the flowers while lowering the concentration of THC so it doesn’t induce intoxication.
Don’t confuse the marijuana high with relaxation or sedation caused by higher doses of CBD oil. Hemp products won’t directly influence your behavior.
Getting high off of CBD oil is only possible if it comes from mature marijuana plants. But then again, not every state in the U.S. allows medical or recreational marijuana use, so make sure that you know the local law and always read the product’s label or lab reports to confirm both the CBD and THC content in your CBD oil.
If it reads less than 0.3% THC, then you have a 100% legal product that won’t get you high.
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
Does CBD Oil Get You High?
CBD is known for its massive range of health benefits. Even if you’re not familiar with the cannabis market, you’ve probably heard of CBD in the media, from your neighbor, or in one of the episodes of your favorite podcaster.
CBD is virtually everywhere. More and more people are turning to CBD as a natural alternative for boosting the overall quality of life.
CBD is known for its relaxing and calming effects. Data from case reports and preclinical studies demonstrate CBD’s potential in promoting healthy sleep, improving focus, easing physical discomfort, and helping with addictive behaviors.
But does CBD oil get you high? After all, it comes from the cannabis plant.
There’s a lot of misconception surrounding the effects of CBD. Today we’ll help you understand how the cannabinoid interacts with the brain, which CBD products might get you high, and how to tell the difference between psychoactive vs intoxicating.
Does CBD Oil Get You High?
Generally speaking, CBD oil doesn’t get you high, but the final effect depends on where the CBD comes from and how much THC is in your product.
If your CBD oil contains 0.3% THC or less, it comes from hemp and thus won’t get you high. Such low concentrations of THC are not sufficient enough to induce intoxication.
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid. It can make you feel more relaxed, in-the-zone, and uplifted, but these effects are nowhere near the marijuana high.
However, there are some exceptions.
Why Some Think You Can Get High on CBD (Misconceptions)
CBD can be sourced both from hemp and marijuana. The latter may contain a considerable amount of THC — upwards of 5% — depending on the final ratio between the two cannabinoids. These products are made from selectively bred marijuana strains that are created for high CBD levels.
Nevertheless, their THC content isn’t as low as in hemp, so it can produce a mild high.
The ratios of CBD to THC can be 1:1, 2:1, 5:1, or even 20:1. The higher the amount of CBD, the less trippy the intoxicating effects. That’s because CBD and THC are like the yin and yang of cannabis.
Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding the Difference Between CBD vs THC
Since CBD is derived from cannabis, people who are going to try CBD oil for the first time are concerned that it will get them high.
Once you understand how CBD and THC affect the brain, you’ll no longer be confused.
Below we share the basic information on CBD, THC, and their traits:
- THC – it is the only intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis, causing the classic marijuana high. The moment THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, it produces a variety of effects on the body and brain. In low and moderate doses, THC can induce relaxation, euphoria, appetite, and sometimes sleepiness. The cannabinoid controls memory, mood, pain sensations, appetite, body temperature, and other important functions (1). THC has a biphasic nature, meaning that higher doses may aggravate anxiety and cause mental discomfort in sensitive users.
- CBD – CBD is a non-intoxicant, meaning it won’t get you high. That’s because it doesn’t bind directly to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Instead, CBD signals the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to maintain more of its endogenous cannabinoids, helping the body maintain homeostasis (a state of balance between vital bodily functions). CBD can promote relaxation, reduce physical discomfort, improve attention and focus, promote neuroprotection, enhance cartilage and joint health, and provide a general sense of balance (2). On top of that, CBD counteracts the trippy nature of CBD, reducing the likelihood of racing thoughts, anxiety, and paranoia.
As you can see, CBD and THC work synergistically in the body, modulating the activity of one another. Just like CBD is able to mitigate the intoxicating effects of THC, THC may enhance some of the health benefits of CBD, unlocking its full potential.
What Does CBD Actually Feel Like?
CBD alone won’t get you high, but what exactly happens when it enters your body? How does CBD produce its effects?
In the above section, we’ve mentioned that CBD doesn’t directly bind to any cannabinoid receptors in the brain, but it acts on more than 60 receptor-based and receptor-independent pathways.
While THC is a cannabinoid agonist, CBD is the modulator of the ECS.
On top of signaling the ECS to increase the production of endocannabinoids, CBD also slows their breakdown by inhibiting the activity of the fatty acid amino hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme. With more endocannabinoids circulating in the bloodstream, your body can return to homeostasis more efficiently (3).
Most users describe the effects of CBD as a wave of calming sensations and relief running through the body and mind when they take CBD oil or vape it. Depending on the route of administration, CBD oil may take anywhere between 5–90 minutes to kick in.
To sum up, CBD oil can make you feel:
- Less in physical discomfort
Is CBD Psychoactive?
There’s a common misconception that CBD isn’t psychoactive, but in fact, it fits in the official definition like a glove.
The fact that something doesn’t get you high doesn’t mean it’s not psychoactive.
Let’s add another term to resolve the doubts.
Psychoactive vs Intoxicating
The official definition of psychoactive is “affecting the mind or behavior.” Although CBD doesn’t affect your behavior, it certainly does influence the mind. For example, bringing a calm sensation to the user, can improve their mood and make them happier. As a result, they will behave differently than before CBD.
So, if we want to be precise as a Swiss watch, we must accept the fact that CBD actually is psychoactive. However, many people don’t accept that trait because they strongly associate the word “psychoactive” with THC, and hemp companies are trying to make a clear distinction between the effects of hemp-based CBD products from their marijuana-derived counterparts.
With that in mind, let’s shed more light on how CBD oils are made and how manufacturers ensure the THC content doesn’t exceed 0.3% by volume.
How CBD Oil is Made to Ensure It Won’t Get You High
Most CBD oils available for sale are extracted from hemp, which is bred to contain higher levels of CBD and only a trace amount of THC. Hemp farmers take advantage of hemp’s naturally high CBD content and grow the plants to yield CBD-rich flowers.
What does the trace amount of THC mean?
While marijuana may contain anywhere between 5–35% of THC, hemp usually comes with 0.3%, which won’t get the user high. This is also the federally accepted limit for the THC levels in hemp products. Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in all 50 U.S. states thanks to that.
However, once the plant has been harvested and brought to the extraction facility, the CBD and other cannabinoids are pulled from hemp using a solvent. Reputable manufacturers use liquid CO2 to extract CBD; the CO2 technology allows for efficient extraction without adding additional heat or solvents on the way.
From there, the viscous hemp extract undergoes a process known as fractional distillation. At this stage, the manufacturer can isolate specific cannabinoids and reintroduce them in desired ratios to the final product. In a similar manner, extractors isolate THC, leaving 0.3% inside the CBD oil.
It’s important that the extraction process is conducted properly, as any mistakes may result in a product tainted with an illegal dose of THC.
The best way to make sure your CBD oil doesn’t contain more than 0.3% of THC is to look for the Certificate of Analysis (CoA) from a third-party laboratory. Outside laboratories verify the CBD content in the tested sample and look for common contaminants to check if the product is safe for consumption.
Other Potentially Intoxicating Cannabinoids
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains other cannabinoids aside from CBD.
On top of non-intoxicating compounds, such as CBC, CBG, or CBDA, there are two minor cannabinoids that could get you slightly high when consumed in large amounts.
- THCV – THCV has a similar chemical structure to THC. There are only traces of THCV in full-spectrum CBD oil, so its occurrence won’t get you high. It can only regulate the effects of significant cannabinoids. THCV is a mild intoxicant, but not in a way that could elevate anxiety. In fact, THCV can mitigate the intoxication from THC while enhancing focus and elevating the mood. Other health benefits of THCV include the ability to reduce stress, promote healthy bone growth, and provide neuroprotection (4).
- CBN– CBN is sort of a byproduct of THC when the compound gets exposed to heat and oxygen. Higher levels of CBN can be found in cannabis that was aged or wrongly stored. While not intoxicating per se, CBN induces potent sedation, which gets intensified in the presence of THC. Some studies suggest that CBN may support regeneration processes in the body thanks to this trait (5).
Let’s Wrap It Up: Which CBD Oil Will Get You High?
As written at the beginning of the article, CBD can be extracted from hemp and marijuana plants.
Due to the higher levels of THC, ranging from 5% to 35%, marijuana-derived CBD oil can get you high, but the intensity of the buzz depends on the ratio between THC and CBD. If you’re using a high-CBD / low-THC product, you can balance the psychoactive effects of THC but still experience relaxation and other benefits of cannabis.
Hemp-derived CBD oil won’t make you feel high because it contains only negligible amounts of THC. However, you can still benefit from a wide range of positive effects on your health associated with using cannabis. People take CBD oil to feel focused, relaxed, more in-the-zone, invigorated, and free from aches and discomfort.
There are also many other goals of CBD supplementation, but getting high isn’t one of them. For this reason, hemp-derived CBD oil is federally legal and available for sale without prescription. You can purchase it in local health stores, dispensaries, vape shops, and online retail stores.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil and Getting High
CBD alone won’t get you high. It’s impossible from the biological point of view; CBD doesn’t affect the same receptors as THC, hence the lack of intoxicating effects. However, that doesn’t mean CBD isn’t psychoactive.
Since CBD can improve your response to stress, enhance focus, and make you feel more relaxed, it does — in a way — affect your mind and behavior. Therefore, it’s 100% psychoactive by the definition. When people say CBD oil doesn’t get you high, they mean it doesn’t have intoxicating properties.
The only intoxicating compound in cannabis whose concentrations are significant enough to cause a high is THC. However, in hemp-derived products, its content is limited to 0.3% — you won’t get high from such modest amounts. Other potentially intoxicating cannabinoids, such as THCV and CBN, only modulate the effects of the major cannabinoids and won’t make you high on their own.
If you want to ensure your CBD oil doesn’t contain more than 0.3% of THC, always look for third-party lab reports. Reputable companies publish them on their websites or send them to users on request. The CBD market is booming and unregulated, so thorough research is necessary if you want to avoid companies that sell fake oils online.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and will find it useful in your future exploration of CBD products!