Updated: November 4, 2021
The best explanation of “getting high” comes from the John Denver song, “Sunshine on my Shoulders.” He sings: “Sunshine almost always makes me high.” But when that sunshine makes a hemp plant grow, and that hemp creates CBD, many of us come to an initial question: does CBD get you high?
Is CBD Oil Psychoactive?
“Getting high” has been scientifically described as elevating one's state of mind. The science shows that getting high is the creation of an altered state of mind or consciousness.
These sensations can be caused by a variety of different activities or drugs. The cannabis sativa plant species is well known throughout human history for its capabilities to alter mood and sensation. CBD's cannabinoid cousin, THC, is the compound in marijuana that can make you feel high. Knowing that quality CBD contains THC the natural question is will CDB oil, gummies, or other products containing CBD produce that "high" feeling? Lets look into the relationship between CBD and THC and if it is possible use hemp derived CBD without getting high?
CBD vs THC
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 150 phytocannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, along with the popular delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).2
The benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids found in cannabis hemp plant material have been anecdotally understood for decades. From college parties, to home cooking, to hardy textiles- hemp cannabis plants are infused into the culture of both prehistoric and modern civilizations,3 and they don't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Generally speaking, the type of cannabis we call “marijuana" produces larger amounts of the THC compound,4 and the type of cannabis we call "hemp" produces larger amounts of the CBD compound.5 These two cannabinoids are the most well known since they have dominated discussions amongst health and wellness enthusiasts for the past several years.
Hemp vs Marijuana
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, made hemp cultivation legal. It achieved this by defining hemp to distinguish it from illegal marijuana. If a cannabis plant contains less than 0.3 percent THC content, it is considered hemp and is now federally legal.6
Soon, growers realized that the federal government only placed restrictions on THC, and not the many other cannabis compounds like CBD. In short order, cannabis cultivators began cross-breeding different plant strains to reduce THC levels, while also meeting the CBD percentage threshold necessary to be manufactured into CBD oils and CBD products, like THC and CBD infused gummies.
Hemp plants look and smell the same as recreational marijuana strains, the only difference is the amount of THC. The only way to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana is with a chemical analysis.
Cannabinoids & Endocannabinoid System
So how does CBD work? Before we talk about what CBD does to the body, a quick vocabulary lesson might be helpful first. “Phyto-“ means “plant” in Greek. Therefore, "phytocannabinoids" are the cannabinoids found naturally in cannabis plants.7 They are similar to endocannabinoids. “Endo-“ is a Greek prefix that means “from within, or inside.” So, “endocannabinoid” refers to a cannabinoid that is produced naturally inside your body.8
The recently discovered endocannabinoid system is network of cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the body. The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, communicates with cannabinoids, whether they are endocannabinoids or phytocannabinoids. The ECS responds to cannabinoids that are inhaled through smoke, absorbed sublingually into the blood stream through a tincture, or taken orally in a capsule.9
The ECS has of two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2.10 These two types of receptors are key to understanding how CBD and THC works, and why they effect the body differently. Namely, why THC produces a “high” sensation, while CBD alone does not.
How Does THC Get You High?
The principle cannabinoid that causes the psychoactive effects of cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol THC, works by activating the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors mostly reside in the brain, brain stem, and elsewhere in the central nervous system.11 By binding to receptors in the brain, a high dose of THC from recreational marijuana produces the feelings associated with “getting high,” such as: euphoria, laughter, and distortions of the senses.12
Can CBD Get You High?
So, can CBD get you high? That answer is no. The effects of CBD are different from the effects of THC. CBD affects the way the ECS's receptors bind with THC, mitigating the psychoactive effects of the THC. This has led to the conclusion that CBD can bring you back to "middle" instead of being "high." CBD is technically psychoactive because of calming effects it can have, but users say it is not at all like being high from THC-rich marijuana.
The main difference between THC and CBD is the end result that they bring to the consumer. THC is a cannabinoid that has been used by many people as a means to find a euphoric escape, otherwise known as "getting high." On the other hand, CBD reportedly does not produce the same euphoric feeling that THC does.13
This corresponds with what we understand about CBD as helping the body restore balance. Cannabinoids including CBD may help bring us back to center, without the risk of getting intoxicated. Even though full spectrum CBD oil contains trace amounts of THC, this THC level is far below the amount needed to actively cause psychotropic effects. It is enough, however, to work with the other cannabinoids for the most wellness and health benefits.
What Does CBD Do?
We discussed CBD’s ability to bind with the receptors in our endocannabinoid system. With this knowledge, you can see how CBD can not make you high, but CBD could get you "middle," bringing the body and mind into balance in a healthy way. That's something that all of us could certainly use in our everyday life. And that's why cannabis products containing the full spectrum of cannabinoids are leading the modern supplement industry.
But how can you be sure that you are taking a federally legal CBD product that won't make you feel high? Cornbread Hemp makes it easy by making their high quality USDA certified organic CBD oils from only the flowering portions of organic hemp grown in Kentucky, where hemp plants are legal but marijuana plants are not.
Cornbread Hemp also makes their third party lab reports readily available. These reports include the CBD content and the THC content of each product. Therefore, you can rest assured that any Cornbread Hemp CBD product will never contain more than the federal legal limit of 0.3 percent THC. It is just enough THC to work alongside CBD to help produce an "entourage effect."
The Entourage Effect
Full spectrum CBD products made in accordance with the Farm Bill of 2018 contain less than 0.3 percent THC by law. Many CBD companies only sell broad spectrum or CBD isolate products which contain no THC at all. Much of this due to an outdated stigma associated with marijuana.
Look at the full spectrum of cannabinoids, including both majors and minors, like your favorite sports team, with CBD and THC as two of the most important players. If one of them is suddenly no longer playing, the team's performance will suffer as a result. Studies show that without THC, the product may not be as effective. This is because of a reaction known as the "entourage effect."16 Every educated CBD consumer should look for a full spectrum product, if they want the most benefit from using marijuana derived CBD oil.
Full spectrum CBD products are available in many forms, the most popular being a sublingual mix of hemp extract blended with coconut oil. CBD may also be made into edibles like CBD gummies, CBD capsules, topical lotions and CBD creams, or even a specialized oil to be used in a vape pen. There are endless applications to CBD and CBD oils. Products made with hemp derived CBD are finding their way into many of our everyday health and beauty products, which is even more reason to be mindful of what you are purchasing.
If you take CBD, you should be aware that ingesting doses of CBD may cause you to fail a drug test. While THC-free products might seem like a safer bet than full spectrum oils, your workplace may use a drug test that can't tell the difference between the cannabinoids from cannabis and hemp. So there is a chance that you could be at risk for testing positive on a drug test even if you use a THC-free CBD product.
If you think you might be subjected to workplace drug testing, talk to your HR department before beginning a CBD regimen.
Is CBD Legal?
Yes, CBD is federally legal in all of the United States, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. Regular, THC-rich, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 restricted substance. If a cannabis sativa plant has less than 0.3 percent THC in it, it is considered industrial hemp, which was made legal by the 2018 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill made CBD legal to make, sell, consume, and ship.
Some states have various restrictions. For example, several states have made it illegal to sell CBD in food products or beverages. But the patchwork that is state laws doesn’t matter to the US Postal Service. The USPS will deliver your products safely to your door or even your post office box, no matter where you are in the USA. You are allowed to receive your CBD products in peace at home, in every state and US territory.
What are the side effects of CBD?
There are very few negative consequences of taking full spectrum hemp extract, according to preliminary research and anecdotal reports. Most side effects occur when you have taken more than the recommended dosage, and sometimes these side effects can result from the carrier oil, not the hemp extract.
Potential side effects include:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Dry mouth
- Interactions with medicines
- Allergic reaction
Although for many people who take CBD products, drowsiness is a benefit, not a drawback, some people find drowsiness to be a negative side effect -- especially if they feel drowsy in the morning after waking up. No one likes gastrointestinal issues, but typically these are caused by ingesting more than the recommended dose, some people do experience diarrhea and other intestinal discomfort. Sometimes the culprit is the carrier oil, in our case MCT coconut oil, and that's what upsets the tummy.
Dry mouth is a storied side effect of smoking marijuana, and at times and for some people, ingesting CBD products may have a similar effect.
We always advise checking with your doctor before starting with full spectrum hemp extracts if you are on prescription medications. In very rare cases, a person can be allergic to hemp products. Consult your doctor.
So does CBD get you high? In short, taking CBD oil will make you feel as high as John Denver’s sunshine. Which is to say: the cannabis plant compound cannabidiol (CBD) is not considered to be intoxicating. Actually, scientists are actively working to uncover the beneficial properties of CBD!
Make sure you are choosing high quality legal CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC. Look for a third-party lab report to be certain. The Food and Drug Administration have yet to pass significant regulations on CBD products, so the USDA organic seal is the best way to be sure you are getting a safe product that is free from pesticides and harmful chemicals.
Cornbread Hemp's third party lab partner tests our products' THC and CBD ratios to ensure legality and potency. Also included in the report is a full safety screening for pesticides, heavy metals, microbials, mycotoxins, and residual solvents.
For those that still aren't sure whether full spectrum products may be right for them, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and a team member will be happy to answer your questions! And don't forget to subscribe to our email list to stay up to date on the latest research like how much CBD to take and much more!
About the Author
Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD
A board certified oncology pharmacist with 25 years experience at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Leslie Mudd now serves as the Cornbread Hemp resident pharmacist and medical expert. Read Dr. Mudd's full author bio here.
Does CBD Oil Get You High FAQ's
What can you expect to feel when using CBD?
CBD oil is widely held useful for bringing a sense of chill, a good night's rest, and comforting muscles and joints. Most people report how much their CBD oil is helping after they stop taking it for the first time.
Can you take too much CBD oil?
The short answer is no. It is safe to take doses of CBD that do not exceed those available over the counter and online. And for the same reasons you won't get high if you use CBD, you cannot overdose on too much CBD oil. CBD does not affect the areas of the brain that would cause respiratory or circulatory distress.
What are the side effects of CBD?
There aren't many negative consequences of taking CBD oil, according to preliminary research and anecdotal reports. Most side effects occur when you have taken more than the recommended dosage. Sometimes these side effects could be blamed on the carrier oil, not the CBD.
Potential side effects include:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Dry mouth
- Interactions with medicines
- Allergic reaction
1. Hicks SD, Jacob P, Perez O, Baffuto M, Gagnon Z, Middleton FA. The Transcriptional Signature of a Runner's High. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019;51(5):970-978. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001865. 2nd paragraph.
2. Lafaye G, Karila L, Blecha L, Benyamina A. Cannabis, cannabinoids, and health. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017;19(3):309-316. Under the heading “Cannabis today,” 2nd paragraph.
3. Bridgeman MB, Abazia DT. Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting. P T. 2017;42(3):180-188. Under the heading “Historical Significance,” 1st paragraph.
4. Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijua... Published July 1, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. 3rd bullet under the first paragraph.
5. Hilderbrand RL. Hemp & Cannabidiol: What is a Medicine?. Mo Med. 2018;115(4):306-309. Under the heading “CBD as an Extract from Hemp,” 1st paragraph.
6. Hilderbrand RL. Hemp & Cannabidiol: What is a Medicine?. Mo Med. 2018;115(4):306-309. Under the heading “CBD as an Extract from Hemp,” 1st paragraph
7. Atakan Z. Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012;2(6):241-254. doi:10.1177/2045125312457586. Under the heading “Delta-0-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol,” 1st paragraph
8. Van der Kloot W. Anandamide, a naturally-occurring agonist of the cannabinoid receptor, blocks adenylate cyclase at the frog neuromuscular junction. Brain Res. 1994;649(1-2):181-184. doi:10.1016/0006-8993(94)91062-6. Do not have access to full text.
9. Lu HC, Mackie K. An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Biol Psychiatry. 2016;79(7):516-525. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028. 1st paragraph
10. Lu HC, Mackie K. An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Biol Psychiatry. 2016;79(7):516-525. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028. 3rd paragraph
11. Reggio PH. Endocannabinoid binding to the cannabinoid receptors: what is known and what remains unknown. Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(14):1468-1486. doi:10.2174/092986710790980005. 3rd paragraph
12. Sharma P, Murthy P, Bharath MM. Chemistry, metabolism, and toxicology of cannabis: clinical implications. Iran J Psychiatry. 2012;7(4):149-156. 10th paragraph
13. Englund A, Morrison PD, Nottage J, et al. Cannabidiol inhibits THC-elicited paranoid symptoms and hippocampal-dependent memory impairment. J Psychopharmacol. 2013;27(1):19-27. doi:10.1177/0269881112460109. Do not have access to full text
14. Linares IM, Zuardi AW, Pereira LC, et al. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. Braz J Psychiatry. 2019;41(1):9-14. doi:10.1590/1516-4446-2017-0015
15. Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139-154. Published 2017 Jun 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034. Under “Introduction” heading, 1st paragraph
16. Gallily R, Yekhtin Z, Hanuš LO. Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol. Pharmacol & Pharm. 2015;06(02):75-85. doi:10.4236/pp.2015.62010