- CBD is psychoactive but not intoxicating
- Commercial CBD products often contain THC
- Pure CBD is not addictive according to the WHO
- Quality CBD-only products purchased from a RISE dispensary are unlikely to make you fail a drug test
- The presence of CBD is believed to diminish the intoxicating power of THC
- CBD is more potent in the presence of THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes
Most of those interested in cannabis have likely heard about CBD oil or CBD gummies.
But how much is really known about it?
There is so much misinformation around regarding CBD. Is it psychoactive? Can it provide euphoric feelings like THC? Is it safe? This short guide will answer all these questions and more.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of several cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant. Among the numerous compounds in cannabis, CBD stands out for its medicinal potential.
Anyone who has taken pharmaceutical drugs for anxiety or chronic pain are well acquainted with their side effects. The unique trait of CBD is that it has the potential to offer similar health benefits as THC with a fraction of the side effects.
People often use CBD as a potential way to alleviate anxiety and aid in pain management. Its also often used to manage symptoms (like pain) of a variety of conditions, including
- Parkinson’s disease
The FDA has only approved one CBD-based drug to with epilepsy, but different U.S. states have varying qualifying conditions for medicinal marijuana or CBD prescription, which often include the conditions listed above and many others.
Psychoactive vs Psychotropic vs Intoxicating
Before we discuss if CBD is psychoactive or psychotropic, let’s first of all understand what do these mean exactly and what is the difference? These words are often used interchangeably but have different meanings.
Any substance that has an impact on your mental and cognitive abilities is referred to as a psychotropic or intoxicating. On the other hand, a chemical is considered psychoactive if it can cross the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, not all psychoactive chemicals are psychotropic, even though both have an impact on your brain and how it functions.
Is CBD Psychoactive?
The Internet is full of articles stating that CBD is non-psychoactive. But scientists disagree. Because it can alter moods by creating calm and relaxed moods, CBD is considered psychoactive. However, it does not alter perception or give a feeling of euphoria the way THC does.
When a product contains a similar amount of CBD and THC, the latter’s intoxicating effects are usually toned down. Scientists believe that this is because CBD competes with THC on the human endocannabinoid system´s receptors. [Source]
So, while CBD does have an effect on the user’s perception, it is not in the same way that THC does.
Is CBD Intoxicating?
The terms ‘psychoactive’ and ‘intoxicating’ are not synonyms. Any chemical that impacts the central nervous system, altering brain function, is considered psychoactive. To be intoxicating, a substance must cause significant cognitive alterations and withdrawal symptoms when you stop consuming. So, a chemical can be psychoactive, but not necessarily intoxicating whereas all intoxicating chemicals are also psychoactive.
The short answer is, that CBD is not intoxicating.
Why Is CBD Not Intoxicating?
Of course, there is also a long answer. The human endocannabinoid system helps regulate appetite, mood, stress response, and pain. Unlike CBD, when THC binds to the endocannabinoid system´s CB1 receptors, it inhibits the release of certain neurotransmitters. This triggers the exaggerated mood response commonly associated with euphoria. [Source]
CBD, on the other hand, loosely binds to the ECS´s CB1 receptors, gently stimulating or blocking them. Thus, CBD has a modulating effect: it either decreases or amplifies the receptors´ function. CBD also modulates serotonin and opioid receptors, which can help relieve pain. [Source]
According to the authors of “Dissociable effects of cannabis with and without cannabidiol on the human brain’s resting-state functional connectivity,” CBD appears to “buffer the user against some of the acute effects of THC on the brain.” The University College London researchers maintain that the more CBD in a cannabis strain, “the lower the impairment to brain function.” [Source]
Is CBD Psychotropic?
The difference between the terms ‘psychoactive’ and ‘psychotropic’ is subtle, but significant. A psychotropic drug can alter one’s mental state and the ability to cognitively function. Psychotropic drugs affect
- Spatial perception
- Sensorial perception
- Mental state
- Sense of reality
None of these are associated with CBD.
Psychoactive drugs cross the barrier into the brain, but they cannot dangerously alter the sense of reality.
Sugar, for example, is also psychoactive (like CBD) but not psychotropic. If it were, everyone at candy shops would make quite a spectacle.
Other examples of psychotropic substances are nicotine, alcohol and caffeine.
Is CBD Safe?
It is highly improbable that one might overdose on CBD. There are no reports of such cases. However, some human CBD studies for epilepsy reported potential CBD-induced drug-drug interactions. Because of this it is recommended to keep in mind when using cannabidiol with other medications. [Source]
In general, CBD is considered safe, but it is best to consult with a licensed cannabis specialist or doctor before consuming large amounts of CBD. Those just getting started with cannabis should consume the lowest therapeutic dose and increase over time as needed.
Can CBD Make You Fail a Drug Test?
Failing a drug test due to CBD use is also unlikely but not impossible, especially if using full-spectrum CBD products that contain THC.
By federal law, products labeled as CBD may not contain more than 0.3% of THC. [Source]
Buying CBD produced by a reputable cannabis company, lab-tested, and sold by an approved retailer, should keep users from failing drug tests.
While CBD alone shouldn’t cause you to fail a drug test, you should still be cautious. Since this is still being studied, there are no guarantees, and it is still possible to fail a drug test even if you are using a product that claims to be just CBD.
Is CBD Addictive?
In 2017, the World Health Organization concluded that “in its pure state, cannabidiol [CBD] does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.”
Is Full Spectrum CBD Psychoactive?
First of all, what is full-spectrum CBD? It is a type of CBD product that contains a full spectrum of cannabis compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids.
Federally legal full-spectrum CBD products can contain up to 0.3% THC, which often concerns users that want to avoid any intoxicating effects that THC may have.
The good news is, even though there are trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum CBD, these levels aren’t possibly high enough to have any unwanted effects. This means that users can potentially benefit from the whole cannabis plant profile with full-spectrum CBD without worrying.
Hence, full-spectrum cannabidiol is psychoactive but NOT intoxicating.
Whether interested in CBD tinctures, hemp-derived CBD, or CBD gummies, users can likely enjoy the benefits of cannabidiol without experiencing the altering effect often associated with marijuana.
CBD doesn’t have an intoxicating effect similar to THC. While it is a psychoactive substance, its effects on the body’s cannabinoid receptors are very different from that of THC.
With the help of a RISE patient care specialist, users can select the best CBD products and safely consume them to access the multiple health benefits of cannabis.
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- Wright M, Di Ciano P, Brands B. Use of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Anxiety: A Short Synthesis of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Evidence. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020;5(3):191-196. Published 2020 Sep 2. doi:10.1089/can.2019.0052
- FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy
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- Drugs (psychoactive): Cannabidiol (compound of cannabis) | World Health Organization
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