Does CBD get you high?

by Tom Russell January 09, 2023

Does CBD get you high

CBD is a compound extracted from the cannabis plant. Given its close association with THC, many are quick to assume that CBD will also get you high, but this simply isn’t the case.

While THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, the way they interact with the human body is very different. Some CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, but for the product to be sold in the UK, this cannot exceed 1mg per container. And this simply isn’t enough to get you high.

Some companies might claim that CBD is non-psychoactive as a way to reassure consumers, but this isn’t entirely accurate. CBD is non-intoxicating, so it won’t produce the same euphoric high. But it is capable of interacting with the brain and nervous system, so technically, it is “psychoactive”.

Fast facts

  • CBD cannot get you high, but this doesn’t mean your CBD won’t contain potent levels of THC.
  • Despite what some sellers claim, CBD is psychoactive.
  • It’s important to check the certificate of analysis if you are unsure about the THC content.
  • It’s very difficult and expensive to remove THC from products, so “zero THC” isn’t always accurate.

CBD vs THC

CBD and THC are both present in cannabis plants, but when humans consume them, they produce distinctively different effects.

CBD interacts with your body in a way that supports your internal balance without making you feel “high”. Whereas THC stimulates your brain to create the potent euphoric feeling that cannabis is known for.

 

THC vs CBD molecule

Whilst CBD is legal, non-toxic and non-addictive, THC is a controlled substance.

Both CBD and THC are capable of interacting with the endocannabinoid system, but the way they do this is entirely different. THC is structurally similar to anandamide, a cannabinoid produced in the body. This allows it to bind to CB1 receptor sites and block messages.

As far as we know, CBD does not bind to receptors. This means that it will not block the receptor sites like THC. Instead, it is thought that CBD supports the endocannabinoid system by inhibiting the release of an enzyme that breaks down anandamide. By performing this action, there is more anandamide available in the body.

Studies are ongoing to learn if CBD could counteract some of the more negative effects of THC, which could be beneficial in the use of medical cannabis.

So while CBD does not have the capacity to get you high, THC certainly does. Since THC is often extracted from the plant as a by-product of CBD production, it is down to manufacturers and retailers to take responsibility for making sure that the THC level is low, safe and legal.

Why CBD products shouldn't get you high

hemp plants

To ensure that CBD doesn’t cause intoxication, steps are taken to minimise the amount of THC in the final product. This begins with using strains of industrial hemp which contain less than 0.2% THC. When CBD is extracted, THC can also be removed or further reduced.

Once the extract is turned into the final product, third-party labs test a sample from each batch. This is the best way to verify that they contain the legal amount of THC. Most trustworthy retailers display these certificates at the point of sale for you to check before you make a purchase.

If this information isn’t readily available, you may be able to request it. If the seller doesn’t know or will not provide this information, it’s time to look elsewhere. Third-party lab testing is the only way to confirm that the CBD content is high enough and the THC content is low enough.

Why does CBD make me feel high?

Everyone will have a different experience and reaction to CBD, but if you think that it is really getting you high, this is worth further investigation. The only way a CBD product could produce a high effect would be if it contains higher than expected levels of THC.

The way CBD products are manufactured can affect the amount of THC they hold. However, no legal CBD products should contain enough to produce a high.

The problem with 'zero THC' products

Some CBD products have labels that claim, 'zero THC', but it's unlikely to find many that are 100% THC free, unless you opt for a CBD isolate. This is because it is difficult and expensive to remove THC from hemp extract altogether. Most will contain some THC although it may be undetectable in a lab.

Products made with CBD isolate, or broad-spectrum extract should have no detectable levels of THC. Those made with full-spectrum extract will contain traces, but they should still fall below the legal limit of 1mg per container. So, as long as the product is legal in the UK, it won't produce any intoxicating effect.

Look for the Level of Quantification (LOQ)

Lab testing

If you are unsure about a product and suspect that it might be producing a high effect, you should check the certificate of analysis to confirm the THC levels. Look for something called LOQ, or the Level of Quantification. This indicates how reliable and precise the testing is.

A LOQ of 0.2% would mean that anything below this amount would not be detected. So the product could contain up to 0.199% THC and this would be marked as “not detected”. This is potentially problematic because this would be enough to get you high if you consume enough of it. It would also be well above the legal limit of 1mg per container.

Conclusion

CBD will not get you high, but it's always wise to view the certificates of analysis to verify that a product only contains traces of THC. If you’re unsure about the testing methods, look for the LOQ to confirm that it is sensitive enough to catch low levels of THC.

When consuming legal hemp products, you may experience some mild sensations that indicate it's taking effect, or you may not. It’s important to listen to your body and observe how CBD makes you feel. This will help you to reach the ideal serving size and schedule for your needs.

If you're new to CBD, start by taking a small amount at regular intervals until you're comfortable with how it affects you.

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Tom Russell
Tom Russell

Author

Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.


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