How Does CBD Make You Feel and Can It Get You High?
- Does CBD get you high?
- How does CBD make you feel?
- Can CBD make you fail a drug test?
CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants (a cannabinoid) that provides proven therapeutic benefits. Because it doesn’t have the same intoxicating effects as its cannabinoid cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) is more lightly regulated, and can be sold without a prescription in most U.S. locations. Even high CBD strains of cannabis can be purchased online without a medical marijuana card.
Both hemp and marijuana are the same species of plant—Cannabis sativa—but hemp has been selectively bred for thick, heavy stalks, whose fibers have been used for centuries to make clothing, sails, paper and rope. Since most of the THC in cannabis is found in the flowering portions of the plant, marijuana breeders have sought plants with lush, heavy flowers (buds), and for decades have selectively bred out the CBD, which moderates the racy high of THC.
CBD has psychoactive effects too. But whether you call CBD’s effects a high or not, vaping it or using CBD oil makes you feel different. There are noticeable sensations that many users find as pleasant as those provided by THC. Unlike THC products though, using pure (or nearly pure) CBD will not make you fail a drug test—as long as you’re careful to choose the right kinds of CBD products.
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Does CBD get you high?
Both CBD and THC are mood-altering compounds that have significant therapeutic benefits, like relieving pain and nausea, reducing inflammation, and treating some seizure disorders. But even though both cannabinoids are psychoactive, only THC is intoxicating. While CBD promotes relaxation and calmness, THC produces actual euphoria, and alters perceptions of space and time.
How does CBD work?
Humans and other mammals have an internal network of chemicals and receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems called the endocannabinoid system. These receptors, named CB1 and CB2, bind with molecules called ligands (in this case endogenous cannabinoids like anandamide) to control the release of neurotransmitters like glutamate and dopamine. The endocannabinoid receptors, ligands, and certain enzymes work in concert to affect a variety of processes in the body, including thought, memory, mood, pain management, and appetite.
Cannabinoids created outside the body—called exogenous cannabinoids—like CBD and THC from the cannabis plant, can also bind with the CB1 or CB2 (and other) receptors to produce various effects and moderate some physical functions. THC can relieve nausea and increase appetite, and both CBD and THC are effective for pain relief. CBD is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, and has proven medically effective in treating certain seizure disorders.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are not considered dangerous, because they don’t affect the parts of the brain that regulate vital functions of the body. Unlike opioid receptors, the cannabinoid receptors will never signal your lungs to stop breathing. For this reason, it’s practically impossible to overdose on cannabis.
Is CBD psychoactive or intoxicating?
CBD is thought to be helpful in treating anxiety and insomnia. And while the scientific research isn’t absolutely clear, anxiety, stress and sleep problems are the most common reasons consumers use CBD. For many people, CBD is relaxing.
Interestingly, marijuana strains that have significant quantities of both CBD and THC rarely produce the undesirable effects—like paranoia and anxiety—sometimes experienced with weed that’s high in THC but has low CBD content. CBD apparently “competes” with THC on the CB1 receptors, and thereby moderates the psychological effects of its racier relative.
Although CBD may alter your mood—providing a deep sense of calm and relaxation—it doesn’t change spatial and sensory perception or create euphoria, like THC does. In that sense, both cannabinoids are psychoactive, but only THC is intoxicating. This also applies to delta 8 products, THCA and all other forms of tetrahydrocannabinol.
How does CBD make you feel?
As we’ve already discussed, CBD’s primary sensation is relaxation. People describe it sometimes in terms of neutralizing pain and discomfort, or removing stress. For some, that feels like an effect in itself. For others, it’s an exaggerated sense of peace and calm, or just a lack of whatever negative feelings they had experienced before.
Because CBD is an anti-inflammatory, it can reduce pain and relax the body. That, along with the stress and anxiety relief, may be noticeable. A first-time user of CBD tincture and CBD capsules told Vaping360 that he felt “super relaxed, no anxiety, no pain, and almost like I was floating.”
People who vape or smoke CBD-rich hemp flowers (buds) or high-CBD/low-THC marijuana flowers seem to experience the most obviously psychoactive effects. That may be because the flower contains a higher level of THC than other CBD products.
A high-CBD cannabis flower user on Reddit described “an effect” that “could be described as an anti-effect.” They said that “something happens and things seem to lift away with no feeling.” A Vaping360 editor says that CBD “both dulls and clarifies your mental state. Either way, your mental state can be altered.”
Vaping and smoking expedite the active ingredients to the brain (through the lungs) much more quickly than other delivery methods. Using CBD oil tinctures sublingually (under the tongue) is the second-fastest method (though still much slower than inhalation). Using CBD edibles or swallowing a tincture is the slowest, since the CBD must process through the liver before reaching the bloodstream and brain.
It’s possible that some users feel the presence of any amount of THC when it’s mixed with CBD. That’s the well-known “entourage effect” theory, which basically says cannabinoids combine to create more than the sum of their parts. It’s worth experimenting with different kinds of CBD products to see what feels best to you.
In addition to CBD-rich flowers, CBD can be consumed in vape juice (e-liquid), CBD oil tinctures, edible products like gummies and drinks, in capsules, and in a wide variety of topical lotions and creams. CBD e-juice can be vaped in a regular vape mod or pen, or taken orally like a tincture. But even if its label calls CBD e-liquid “oil,” it isn’t really oil; e-liquid is made with propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Tinctures are made with actual CBD oil and carrier oils like MCT or coconut oil, and can only be consumed orally, never vaped. Inhaling real oils can be dangerous.
One product to avoid is CBD oil that has been adulterated with synthetic cannabinoids. These are lab-created chemical compounds that bind with the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain that THC and CBD do. But they can be as much as 100 times more powerful than THC, and have been known to cause extended psychotic episodes and even death. They’re often sold under the brands Spice and K2 (but there are many others) in truck stops, head shops and convenience stores. Sometimes they’re sold as vape juice in bottles marked CBD.
Avoiding synthetic cannabinoids—or other less-sinister additives you don’t want, like melatonin—is simple. Buy from reputable dealers who offer a third-party chemical analysis of the products they sell. That’s something you may want to do anyway if you’re concerned that the CBD oil you buy could make you fail a drug test.
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Can CBD make you fail a drug test?
CBD is extracted from hemp and processed into different kinds of CBD products. CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD contain no discernible THC, and are the safest ways of using CBD if you are concerned about a drug test. Full-spectrum CBD contains traces of THC, and although it too is unlikely to make you fail a test, it should probably be avoided to be absolutely sure.
CBD derived from hemp plants almost always contains less than 0.3% THC, which is the legal maximum it can include unless it’s sold by a licensed dispensary in a state with a legal marijuana market. You can verify how much THC a product contains by checking the third-party test on the manufacturer’s website. If the seller can’t produce a test, or you feel hesitant, move on to a different company.
Hemp-derived CBD oil is highly unlikely to make you fail a drug test. As long as the CBD you choose has been tested by a third party, and is sold by a reputable retailer that stands behind its products, you can use it with confidence and enjoy the benefits CBD offers.
CBD is often thought of as the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, but even though CBD is not intoxicating, it does have physical and psychological effects.
The ins and outs of smoking CBD
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- The difference between smoking CBD and THC
- Why consumption method matters
- The benefits of smoking CBD
- The side effects of smoking CBD
- Hemp flower vs. high-CBD flower
- How does smoking CBD feel?
- Frequently asked questions
You’ve likely seen cannabidiol (CBD) everywhere from drugstore gummies to boutique coffee concoctions. But there’s reason to believe smoking high-CBD flower might be one of the most effective ways to experience the potential benefits of CBD.
If you’re curious about smoking CBD flower and want to explore the pros and cons, this is the guide for you. And if you’re looking for a literal guide to smoking, we have a guide for that, too.
Many consumers typically prefer consuming or smoking CBD through a pipe, joint, or vape pen. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The difference between smoking CBD and THC
Contrary to popular belief, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD have a lot in common. They’re the most abundant cannabinoids found in cannabis plants and they both have the potential to help with anxiety. They even have the same chemical structure (the atoms are just arranged differently). The main difference between THC and CBD can be summed up in one word: intoxication.
CBD is often touted as nonpsychoactive or having no psychoactive effects, but it’s more accurately described as nonintoxicating. Why? Even though CBD won’t get you high, that subtly calm feeling you might experience after taking some CBD tincture is technically a psychoactive effect. Any substance that has a direct effect on the function of the brain is considered psychoactive. By contrast, THC can be intoxicating even at low doses.
Both THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Why this happens has to do with how THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The human endocannabinoid system consists of the cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. The body’s most studied cannabinoid receptors are the Cannabinoid-1 and Cannabinoid-2 receptors (CB1 and CB2), and they are found in the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and the immune system.
THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain to produce that classic weed high, while CBD has been shown to have the opposite interaction with CB1 receptors, acting as an antagonist. When consumed together, CBD appears to improve the therapeutic and enjoyable effects of THC by minimizing the unwanted side effects such as anxiety and a rapid heartbeat.
The bioavailability of CBD is greater through the lungs than through the gut. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Why consumption method matters
The consumption method plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. Inhalation is considered an effective delivery method for CBD because of how quickly the body absorbs it. When CBD is smoked or vaped, cannabinoids enter the lungs and then the bloodstream, circulating throughout the body from there.
While some cannabis consumers and patients prefer to take their CBD through oral administration or topical application, others have found inhalation to be the most effective way to consume. And there may be some science to support this preference.
According to Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist and scientific adviser to Weedmaps, “The bioavailability of CBD is greater through the lungs than through the gut. Specifically, about half of the CBD you inhale makes it into the blood, but only 5% of the CBD you eat gets into your blood.” A Chemistry & Biodiversity study published in 2017 confirms this, stating that while the bioavailability can vary based on how the CBD is smoked, “smoking… provides a rapid and efficient method of drug delivery from the lungs to the brain.”
As an added benefit, the effects are felt almost immediately after inhalation. The effects of edibles, on the other hand, can take up to two hours to kick in.
Smoking CBD flower is an efficient way to experience the potential benefits of CBD. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The benefits of smoking CBD
Of the emerging research into CBD’s potential medical benefits, there is concrete scientific evidence for its effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy by reducing seizures. So much so that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug to treat childhood epilepsy. But that’s the only hard scientific evidence on the cannabinoid.
Anecdotally, cannabis consumers have used CBD to alleviate depression, anxiety, insomnia, and pain. But until multiple studies confirm the anecdotal benefits of CBD and the benefits of smoking CBD specifically, that’s all they are — anecdotal.
The good news is there is a lot of clinical evidence that CBD is safe to consume, even in large quantities. A clinical trial published in CNS Drugs in 2019 showed that healthy individuals who received 1500 mg of CBD twice per day experienced very few adverse reactions and all were mild. For context, most CBD products on the market today contain 10 mg per serving.
Because CBD poses minimal risks even in large quantities, you should be able to experiment with smoking CBD flower without fear of overdoing it.
The only way to find out if CBD works for you is to try it. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The side effects of smoking CBD
Because smoking CBD involves — no shocker here — smoke inhalation, there is the risk of developing respiratory issues. Whenever you combust plant material, toxins called polyaromatic hydrocarbons form. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons exist in both tobacco and cannabis smoke and exposing yourself to those toxins is one of the risks of smoking weed.
Luckily, smoking cannabis doesn’t have the same risks as smoking cigarettes. While smoking CBD flower in excess may lead to respiratory issues (like bronchitis or, in severe cases, COPD), there has been no causal link found between smoking weed and cancer, one of the biggest risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Smoking anything, including cannabis, has potential risks.
A 2007 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal examined self-reported respiratory symptoms in participants who used cigarettes and cannabis. The study found that using a vaporizer could decrease respiratory symptoms in regular cannabis users who smoke.
In addition to possible respiratory issues caused by smoke inhalation, CBD does interact with some prescription drugs so check with your doctor before smoking it.
Hemp flower vs. high-CBD flower
While they may sound similar, the difference will largely dictate where you can buy these products — or if you can buy them at all.
Hemp flower and high-CBD flower may look the same, but they’re legally very different. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The hemp plant produces a broad range of cannabinoids, including THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid in marijuana. However, hemp does not produce enough THC to be intoxicating when consumed.
Although the hemp plant doesn’t produce a significant amount of THC, it is capable of producing the non-intoxicating and medicinally rich CBD in high concentrations. And certain strains of hemp produce flowers that look indistinguishable from the high-THC cannabis you’ll find at legal dispensaries.
Many countries differentiate hemp from marijuana by the amount of THC produced. In the US, industrial hemp is defined as a Cannabis sativa L. plant containing no more than 0.3% THC by weight. Thanks to the Farm Bill of 2018, you can legally buy hemp flower online in nearly every state.
High-CBD flower is only available for purchase in licensed dispensaries in states where it’s legal since it contains THC levels higher than the cutoff for hemp. While it contains higher levels of CBD than most cannabis flower on the legal market, it’ll typically contain significant levels of THC as well.
How does smoking CBD feel?
The experience of smoking CBD vary depending on the product and the individual who is consuming the CBD. For example, dabbing a pure CBD isolate will likely cause different effects than hitting a high-CBD vape pen that also contains some THC.
While CBD won’t get you high or intoxicated, it may provide a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being. Depending on the dose and the individual, CBD might have sleepy, relaxed, happy, or even energetic vibes. While there are no serious side effects reported with CBD, overconsumption can cause drowsiness.
In addition to feelings of relaxation, some report feeling a quick relief of swelling and pain after smoking CBD.
In addition to a feeling of relaxation, smoking CBD has been reported to provide quick relief of swelling and pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Frequently asked questions
Is smoking CBD safe?
While more research into the effectiveness of CBD consumption methods is needed, most evidence suggests that smoking CBD flower will not cause intoxication. The primary concern for users is getting unadulterated CBD and, for those who prefer smoking, the potential long-term consequences for the lungs. CBD does interact with some prescription drugs so check with your doctor before trying it.
Can you smoke CBD oil?
CBD can be infused into a variety of products, including vape juice, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. CBD tinctures are strictly for ingestion, while CBD oils are made for inhalation.
CBD vape juice, sometimes referred to as CBD vape oil, may vary in concentration depending on state-specific laws. It is legal in 30 states. Another 17 states have CBD-specific laws that enable some level of use or consumption.
CBD can be infused into a variety of products, including vape juice, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The FDA has not stepped in to regulate CBD products, but in 2018 the FDA approved the prescription use of Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD oil, for treating epilepsy.
Rick Simpson Oil, named after its Canadian developer who claims he cured his own skin cancer with a custom blend of cannabis oil, is a popular form of CBD oil that is commonly smoked.
CBD oil derived from industrial hemp plants only contains CBD, while marijuana-derived products, such as Rick Simpson Oil, have a high concentration of THC and the full range of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Does CBD kill your high?
The answer isn’t clear, but CBD has demonstrated the ability to moderate a high produced from THC by preventing the body from absorbing it. Some people say they use CBD when they get too high to reduce the effects. Evidence suggests CBD actually interferes with the activity of the CB1 receptor, especially in the presence of THC.
So, when THC and CBD work together to affect CB1 receptor activity, users tend to feel a more mellow high and are said to have a reduced chance of experiencing paranoia compared with the effects felt when CBD is absent in a product. This synergistic relationship is often referred to as the “entourage effect,” which explains why certain combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes seem to enhance the benefits of cannabis.
The ins and outs of smoking CBD Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents The difference between smoking CBD and THC Why consumption method matters