Is CBD psychoactive?

by Tom Russell January 24, 2022

Is CBD psychoactive?

When discussing CBD, many retailers, manufacturers and wellness gurus will proudly proclaim, “CBD is not psychoactive.” But this is not true; CBD is psychoactive!

This common statement is usually designed to highlight the difference between useful CBD products and the intoxicating cannabinoid THC.

CBD won’t get you high, but the claim “CBD is not psychoactive” is a misconception.

Is CBD psychoactive or psychotropic?

CBD chocolate chillies coffeeCBD is psychoactive but not psychotropic. A psychoactive substance is one that changes nervous system function and affects the mind.

Some common items that are also considered to be psychoactive include chillies, chocolate and caffeine. As with CBD, the effects of these substances are usually mild and don’t cause you to lower your inhibitions or lose control.

Brands that claim that their CBD products are not psychoactive are trying to reinforce the correct idea that taking CBD is not the same as using cannabis. However, the difference between THC-rich cannabis and CBD is not psychoactivity, it’s that cannabis is psychotropic and CBD is not.

A psychotropic drug affects your nervous system to create changes in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition or behaviour. You can apply this definition to most recreational drugs and some prescription medications. 

The main difference between psychoactive and psychotropic is that psychotropic drugs affect your ability to interact with the world around you and psychoactive is a description for a substance that will have an effect on your mind.

How does CBD affect your mind?

CBD affects your mind by interacting with several receptors in your brain and central nervous system. One of these interactions is with the CB1 receptor of your endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Endocannabinoid SystemWhen THC interacts with your CB1 receptors, it binds directly with them. This mimics the action of the endocannabinoid anandamide. When anandamide binds with your CB1 receptors, it activates neurons and assists in effective signalling through various key systems.

If THC does this instead of anandamide, it interferes with the standard actions of your endocannabinoid system and creates sensations of euphoria, heightens your senses, lowers your inhibitions and gets you high.

The way that CBD interacts with your CB1 receptors is completely different. Instead of binding directly, CBD binds with nearby enzymes. These enzymes are usually responsible for breaking down anandamide molecules, so when they’re blocked by CBD, your anandamide levels increase.

With more anandamide present, it can bind more frequently with your CB1 receptor. This supports the chemical communications system that works to restore your body to a healthy state of balance.

Is CBD intoxicating?

Human brain

Intoxication is often linked to the effects of alcohol but can refer to the effects of any substance that causes changes in perception, mood, thinking and motor skills. While CBD does interact with your brain, it does not cause any changes to your perception. It also won’t impair your motor skills or affect your ability to process.

CBD does not cause intoxication, confusion or loss of coordination. When we asked several leading CBD bloggers what it feels like to take CBD, some reported noticing no noticeable changes or sensations. Others mentioned a mild grounding sensation.


While CBD is a safe supplement with few side effects that won’t get you high, it’s time for brands to accept that it is psychoactive.

However, this level of psychoactivity is not something to be concerned about. Coffee is psychoactive when it enhances your ability to concentrate. Chocolate is psychoactive when it stimulates your endocrine system and makes you feel pleasure by releasing dopamine.

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Tom Russell
Tom Russell


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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