Does CBD Get You High?

Jun 8, 2021

If you’re one of the millions who suffer from anxiety, depression, pain, or inflammatory disorders, then you are probably curious whether CBD products would help you feel better. CBD products could help you feel better, but does CBD get you high?

If you have never been a cannabis user you might wonder if CBD is right for you and if it will interfere with your typical day to day functions. While it may sound like a silly question, “Does CBD get you high?” is asked thousands of times per day across the nation. This is especially true for those who have had a bad experience with marijuana.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD (cannabidiol) found in cannabis strains (including hemp) is one of many cannabinoid compounds. Another famous cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC can produce the psychoactive effects that make you feel high.

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in high concentrations in hemp.3 CBD does not bind well to endocannabinoid receptors CB-1 or CB-2. It is thought to produce its effects indirectly by promoting the endocannabinoids that are naturally found in the body. CBD is also thought to affect the endocannabinoid system indirectly through other receptors like 5-HT. Hemp extracted CBD has significant medicinal value. It has been used in modern and traditional medicine as far back as ancient China and Egypt.

CBD and THC are synthesized from the acidic version of the cannabinoid cannabigerol (CBG). This makes the chemical shape of CBD and THC almost identical. They have just a very slight difference in the position of a single molecule. The slight variation in the molecular shapes is critical because it determines how the cannabinoids will interact with cannabinoid receptors.

If you’d like to learn more about CBD oil, go in-depth with our article titled “What Is CBD Oil?”

What is THC?

Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have opposing effects.1 CBD can counteract THC and reduce its ability to bind to cannabinoid receptors. This blocking prevents or reduces the psychoactive effects of THC. There are over 400 chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, at least 60 of which are cannabinoids like CBD and THC.

THC is surprisingly the only known cannabinoid in cannabis that will get you high! It tends to get the most attention since it was the first cannabinoid discovered and gives marijuana its reputation.

THC also has medicinal benefits, though. Now many states are allowing access to THC products through medical marijuana programs. Since THC and CBD work on different receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, they produce effects that are different and/or influence different parts of the body.

In the central nervous system, there are CB-1 receptors that bind with THC. CB-1 receptors are mainly found in the brain and central nervous system. The body naturally produces endocannabinoids, such as AEA and 2-AG, which also bind to the CB-1 receptor.

Can CBD Get You High?

It’s possible that CBD can get you high, but highly unlikely. The World Health Organization released a 2017 report on CBD after reviewing several clinical studies. They noted the psychoactive potential of THC but found that even high oral doses of CBD will not produce those effects.

Any substance that has a direct effect on the function of the brain is considered to be “psychoactive.” So how does CBD affect the brain? In a literal sense of the definition, CBD does create psychoactive effects when it interacts with the brain and central nervous system. If CBD wasn’t able to do this, it would not have such powerful anti-seizure and anti-anxiety properties.

Since that definition of psychoactive is less generally understood, it is often said that THC is the only psychoactive cannabinoid in the sense that it is the only one that will get people high.

Marijuana users will likely feel a euphoric intoxication as a result of THC binding to CB-1 receptors in the brain’s reward system. THC is an agonist, or activator, of CB-1, but if CB-1 has been blocked by a molecule that is an antagonist (like CBD) the high will be lessened or not felt. It is thought that CBD can act as a rescuer in situations where too much marijuana has been consumed.

CBD vs. THC: What’s The Difference?

In our article, CBD vs. THC, we dive into the different chemistry and biochemistry of CBD vs. THC. But what about the difference between how CBD vs. THC makes you feel?

Each person will have different experiences with CBD and THC based on numerous variables like strain, dosage, consumption method, and unique body chemistry. Some people feel nothing when they take one type of CBD, but another strength or product type will make them feel more relaxed or more focused or lessen symptoms of a condition.

Similarly, the experience of THC is going to be different from person to person. Some will feel energized by sativa strains and sedated from indica strains, while others will feel no difference between strains. Because there are so many different types of cannabis and so many different products available, there is no single CBD or THC experience that will be the same.

Does THC Work Better than CBD?

Researchers have attempted to quantify anecdotes of how different strains and products make a person feel by looking at the chemical features of distinct cannabis strains. Another approach researchers take is to evaluate clinical data on what symptoms and conditions are reported to be relieved by CBD or THC (or combinations of them). After identifying an effect researchers can investigate the mode of action in the body. Many scientist are working to explain the symptom relief experienced from cannabinoids.

Trial and error are genuinely the only way that consumers find which CBD or THC products work best for them individually. It helps to keep a journal to track the product, dosage, and effect. In general, scientists have been able to find out if CBD vs. THC works better, worse, or not at all for many widespread conditions and symptoms. One example is that CBD is known to be anti-epileptic and anti-seizure, but THC does not help with epilepsy and seizures1.

Hemp vs. Marijuana: What’s The Difference?

Hemp is simply a variety of cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC. Hemp could be classified as a type of sativa cannabis but traditionally is much more fibrous, which also makes it an excellent material for clothing, rope, building material, and even biofuel.

Marijuana, on the other hand, will contain much more THC. The term “marijuana” refers to “drug-type” cannabis. Marijuana contains enough THC that it can get people high. Marijuana has been bred to be more and more potent in THC over the decades1. Modern marijuana is different than the marijuana of the ’60s and ’70s because it had been bred to produce many unique strains. Strains have specific CBD to THC ratios and contain different terpenes. Terpenes contribute to the feeling a particular strain will produce in the body and produce unique flavors.

Such care inbreeding is also coming into hemp production as CBD products become more and more popular. The most significant difference between hemp vs. marijuana remains that marijuana can get you high, but even smoking hemp pre-rolls of the dried herb will not get you high.

Hemp Extract Federal Law

Marijuana is still federally illegal, unlike hemp. Hemp was legalized to grow under the 2018 Farm Bill. Marijuana is the term used to refer to indica or sativa types of cannabis that contain more than 0.3% THC. The 0.3% THC limit on hemp is a legal classification that is arbitrary when considering cannabis as a species. Varieties of hemp with more than 0.3% THC are common and occur naturally.

In fact, a crop of hemp analyzed in bulk may fall in compliance with the 0.3% rule. However, the cannabis genome is so highly variable that individual plants within the crop may fall above or below that limit. Hemp plants are being bred specifically to maximize CBD production. This has led to some hemp plants that look just like a marijuana plant.

CBD oil from hemp is legally required to contain less than 0.3% THC, which is not enough to get you high. Different types of extracts also exist, these CBD isolates are at least 99% pure CBD with no detectable THC- which means you won’t get high off CBD and it won’t pose a risk of showing up in a drug test.

Benefits of THC (Gets You High)

Marijuana has many medicinal benefits despite its reputation for recreational fun. Working through stimulation of the CB-1 receptor, THC can suppress the nerves that feel pain (nociceptive sensitization) by influencing the release of neurotransmitters.2 It also works to prevent excessive neuronal activity, which results in reducing pain and other inflammatory symptoms. In addition to being a very potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, THC may help mediate feelings, aggression, and stress.

Basics of CBD & THC as Medicine

  • CBD oils with as little as 2.5mg CBD may have a therapeutic effect

  • Full-spectrum oils containing a majority of CBD along with other cannabinoids may have effects at lower doses

  • A broader spectrum of symptoms are thought to be able to be influenced by full-spectrum oils

  • THC products may provide therapeutic effects with a dose as small as 2.5mg, up to a total 15mg per day

  • Single doses of THC higher than 10mg or more than 20-30mg per day may produce undesirable side effects

  • Low doses of cannabinoids tend to have a stimulating effect, and large doses tend to have a sedative effect

  • Different ratios of CBD and THC can have different effects on individuals

Benefits of CBD (Does Not Get You High)

CBD has a long list of known benefits. Continued research is revealing more and more uses and benefits. With legal restrictions loosening in the US, Canada, and Europe, a wealth of research is continually emerging. More details on the most common benefits of CBD are elaborated in our article CBD Oil Benefits: Top 5 List.

The most commonly reported and studied CBD oil benefits include reduction of inflammation, anxiety, pain, neuroprotection, and benefits to skin conditions.1 Supplementing with CBD for pain relief is one of the most common homeopathic uses of it. Of course, there are many more beneficial properties that have been found or are being investigated. These include:

  • Antioxidant activity

  • Anti-carcinogen and anti-tumor activity

  • Muscle relaxation

  • Anti-convulsant effects

  • Anti-nausea effects

  • Potential to benefit GI disorders

  • And many more!

Effects of CBD

The effects of CBD are diverse and widespread through the body because CBD works through the peripheral nervous system will less presence through the central nervous system. The peripheral nervous system (PNS) is dispersed throughout the body. The central nervous system (CNS) is mainly found in the brain and spinal cord.

CBD and THC can both travel widely through the blood, but will only affect parts of the body where their corresponding receptors are present.

Psychoactivity vs. Intoxication: Does CBD Get You High?

As mentioned earlier, psychoactivity is different than intoxication. Often, people use the term “psychoactive” very generally. The psychoactive effects of CBD and THC are very different because of the route they take in the body. THC will usually get consumers high, but if they are microdosing, it may not.

Microdosing a drug is using just enough to feel very little or no intoxicating effect. It is possible to consume marijuana in a way that doesn’t produce intoxication but does provide some symptom relief. Because THC readily accumulates in fat cells, microdosing THC can still result in a drug test failure.

Even consuming large amounts of CBD that contains trace amounts of THC will not result in intoxication, though. For people that have to undergo drug screening for work, or do not like to feel high, CBD products have been a revolutionary way to harness the natural benefits of the cannabis plant without interfering with day to day functioning or risking job loss.

Full Spectrum CBD: Can You Get High From the THC Inside?

Full-spectrum CBD oil may contain up to 0.3% THC by weight, but by volume that amount may transfer to more THC per bottle than one would expect. The primary benefit of full-spectrum CBD oil is that it contains more plant compounds and cannabinoids that can work together to access more receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

There is still not enough THC in full-spectrum CBD oil to get you high at recommended dosages. However, there is enough that THC may accumulate and create a positive result on a drug test from CBD(full-spectrum).Because of this, many people are trying broad-spectrum CBD products that remove almost all THC and add back terpenes to the CBD isolate.

Will CBD Isolate Get You High?

CBD isolate products will not get you high. They may not be as effective at relieving some symptoms that benefit from additional cannabinoids and terpenes, but they are doubtful to produce positive drug test results. CBD isolate works best at either low or very high doses but is not very useful at mid-ranged doses that full-spectrum products work well at.

Because of the THC concerns with full-spectrum CBD oil, many people are turning their interest to broad-spectrum CBD oil. Adding terpenes back to CBD isolate creates “broad-spectrum CBD oil.” Terpenes provide flavoring along with the health benefits. Anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety benefits may come from common terpenes like beta-caryophyllene and myrcene.

Is It Possible to Take Too Much CBD?

It is possible to take to much CBD. CBD can have side effects that consumers should be aware of. The first sign you have taken too much CBD is an upset stomach or nausea. This is a common early sign that a dose is too powerful and should be reduced. Many people can tolerate substantial daily doses of CBD. A 1991 study reported that average daily doses of 10mg CBD per kilogram of body weight per day are safe.4  Further research has shown that doses up to 1500mg per day can be well-tolerated, so while it is possible to take too much CBD for your own comfort, no one has ever overdosed on CBD (or cannabis in general).


  1. Atakan, Z. (2012). Cannabis, a complex plant: Different compounds and different effects on individuals. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology2(6), 241-54. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736954/

  2. Elikkottil, J., Gupta, P., & Gupta, K. (2009). The analgesic potential of cannabinoids. Journal of opioid management5(6), 341-57. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3728280/

  3. Hartsel, J. A., Eades, J., Hickory, B., & Makriyannis, A. (2016). Cannabis sativa and Hemp. In Nutraceuticals (pp. 735-754). DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-802147-7.00053-X. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012802147700053X

  4. Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis and cannabinoid research2(1), 139-154. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/

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