Can CBD Oil Get You High?
CBD and THC are both derived from the cannabis plant, but have very different effects on your body and brain.
Written by Cathy Rozyczko
Edited by Jason Brett on
September 27, 2021
One of the first questions asked by people just learning about CBD oil is, “Can CBD oil get you high?”
It’s a valid question, and given that there is still a large portion of the general public who consider CBD oil to be little more than marijuana in disguise, it’s essential that in your search for information, you find the right information.
So, for the purposes of this page, we’ll define “high” as meaning a decrease in your mental or physical capabilities.
We’re here to clear up the biggest misconceptions about CBD oil and arm you with the knowledge you need to make the right choices for your personal health and supplement needs.
CBD vs. THC: A Cannabinoid Overview
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of hundreds of cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant.
THC is the cannabinoid that occurs in the largest quantity within cannabis, while CBD presents in a much smaller ratio.
Because of CBD oil’s rise in popularity, many growers are now cultivating cannabis plants with high CBD content.
Both cannabinoids are currently being put through intensive studies, although their benefits have only been anecdotally known for some time. Prior to recent changes in legislation that allow for the sale of medical cannabis in a majority of U.S. states, it was difficult, if not impossible to legally conduct research into the potential positives effects of taking CBD oil.
What we do know is that both THC and CBD are the phytocannabinoid (plant) versions of our body’s endocannabinoids (internal). Phytocannabinoids impact our endocannabinoid system, which consists of two main receptors: the CB1, and CB2 receptors, located predominantly in the brain and the central nervous system, respectively. These receptors impact a vast array of functions within the body like pain perception, the experience of anxiety, inflammation, and appetite.
While THC has been shown to directly target and bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD instead creates the majority of its therapeutic benefits indirectly, activating both cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid receptors.
Not All Cannabis Plants Are the Same
Cannabis, despite what people think, is not a single plant. In fact, it is a genus in a family of flowering plants. This genus includes both cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. The substance popularly known as marijuana can be of the sativa or indica variety.
Hemp is also a type of sativa plant, however, it has few to none of the intoxicating effects that marijuana sativa plants carry. Biologically, hemp is quite different from marijuana and typically contains much higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC relative to marijuana.
Historically, hemp has been cultivated for its hard and fibrous qualities, used in the production of items like paper, rope, and cloth. Now, hemp is the primary source of CBD oil.
Marijuana is the type of cannabis that when smoked or ingested, produces psychoactive, intoxicating effects, creating a “high” caused by the THC . THC, through its action on the brain, triggers a dopamine release. This flood of dopamine is the source of positive emotions and the high that is felt by marijuana users. THC also impacts the hypothalamus (appetite), the basal ganglia (cognition and emotion), cerebellum (sensory perception), and the neocortex (perception and conscious thought).
The hemp plant does not produce these results, as CBD does not play the same role in the body. This means CBD oil is not going to get you high in the same way as marijuana. But just because it won’t get you high, doesn’t mean it’s not psychoactive.
Psychoactive vs. Intoxication: What’s the Difference?
CBD oil cannot get you high but it is a psychoactive substance. This concept is a difficult one to unravel, but here’s a breakdown:
An intoxicant is a substance that when taken produces a state of diminished mental and physical ability. Examples of this include alcohol, recreational drugs, and THC.
A psychoactive substance is one that changes an individual’s mental state by impacting how the brain and central nervous system function. Examples include caffeine, chocolate, and CBD.
As you can see, while the “psychoactive” label attached to CBD oil may seem damning at first, understanding the terminology helps to uncover that many psychoactive substances can produce positive results, whereas intoxicants impact the brain in a negative way.
So, CBD oil is a psychoactive substance, but it will not get you high.
Why Choose CBD Oil over Marijuana
When isolated from the cannabis plant, CBD oil is able to be produced containing only trace amounts of THC (<0.3%).
While this process removes some of the potential whole plant benefits that have been linked to THC, it more importantly removes any intoxicating properties, making it an ideal choice for anyone who wishes to remain clear-headed while using CBD oil.
The use of CBD oil alone has been shown to have potential benefits in the treatment of pain, inflammation, insomnia, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and a vast number of other conditions.
Is CBD Oil Right for You?
The decision about whether or not CBD oil is the right treatment option for you will depend on your needs and the laws in your state.
While there is still a great deal of research left to be done, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that CBD doesn’t yield the same effects as THC, and could present a slew of therapeutic health benefits without posing much medical risk to those who consume it.
Now that you know that CBD oil is not going to get you high, you can consider it more seriously as an option for treatment. If you’re considering CBD oil, still speak to your doctor so you can make the most informed decision possible. While largely safe to use, CBD oil does interact with a handful of medications, including some common antidepressants, so it is best to seek professional advice.
From there, you can decide if CBD oil could be of benefit to you.
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