CBD education

Does CBD Get You High? Understanding CBD vs THC

Have you been curious about using CBD for pain, anxiety, or other symptoms? Many people turn to CBD for a variety of conditions and it may help you, too. But you might find yourself unsure about purchasing CBD because you’re wondering, does CBD get you high? And what is the difference with CBD vs THC? Not everyone wants intoxication in exchange for relief, so it’s important to tell the difference.

The good news is, we have the answer to the “does CBD get you high” question and it’s a resounding no. CBD does not get you high. 

However, you may hear people say that CBD gets them high. While CBD itself cannot get you high, there are some possibilities that could explain this statement.

First, the CBD industry is an unregulated market. There is always the possibility that the product in question had THC in it.  THC does get users high. That’s why it’s so important to choose CBD that has been tested by an ISO-accredited laboratory. Consumers can read the test results and see for themselves that the product they want to purchase is pure and potent with no other substances in it. 

Let’s dive deeper into why the answer to “does CBD get you high” is no. 

The differences: CBD vs THC 

Many people are apprehensive about CBD use because CBD is extracted from hemp and cannabis. Most people associate these plants with being high. 

However, it’s important to note that there are many different compounds in cannabis, most of which are not intoxicating. Instead, they have potential therapeutic effects. CBD is the best example of this. 

It can be a bit confusing, so let’s start from the beginning to understand CBD vs THC. 

The endocannabinoid system 

Humans and animals have a biological system called the “endocannabinoid system” or ECS, that regulates a lot of different processes. 

The ECS consists of endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters that are fatty-acid-based) that bind to cannabinoid receptors. Now, you may recognize the word cannabinoid from earlier, when we discussed CBD and THC. The body creates endocannabinoids naturally though. This is different from phytocannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, which people ingest. 

Both phyto and endocannabinoids can bind to cannabinoid receptors and influence activity. 

CBD and THC are both phytocannabinoids. They are similar in some ways, but there are some vital differences between the two. Their molecular structure is slightly different which allows for vastly different effects. 

CBD vs THC: The difference is in the cannabinoid receptors 

When you consume cannabis, different compounds in the plant bind to various receptors within the endocannabinoid system. THC binds to different areas than CBD, which explains why THC produces an intoxicating effect and CBD does not. 

Scientists have narrowed down the endocannabinoid system to two main receptors: CB1 and CB2, or cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2. The human body has an abundance of both of these receptors, and they’re found in different areas across the body. 

CB1 receptors are most commonly present in the brain and spine as well as the endocrine and nervous systems. CB2 receptors are more commonly found in white blood cells, the immune system, tonsils, spleen, and other parts of the body. 

Now, THC does a good job of binding to CB1 receptors. And remember where they are? Primarily in the brain and spine. Naturally, THC effects are felt heavily in the brain where these receptors are.  

CBD does not bind directly to the CB1 receptors. Its lack of affinity with CB1 receptors means it can’t cause intoxicating effects. However, both CBD and THC can bind to CB2 receptors, which explains why they offer some of the same therapeutic effects. 

So instead of binding to CB1 receptors and getting users high, CBD binds more with CB2 receptors which don’t provide intoxicating effects. 

What are the different uses for CBD vs THC?

Both THC and CBD have therapeutic potential. One is not better than the other. In fact, a lot of times users opt for a combination of both THC and CBD for best results. Of course, it entirely depends on individual needs and what symptoms users are looking to treat. 

Medical marijuana is not a new concept. Patients have been using both THC and CBD to combat a variety of symptoms. Just because CBD has gained popularity recently does not discount the therapeutic potential of THC. But CBD’s inability to get users high is a selling point that has gotten a lot of non-cannabis users to try it out. 

CBD is legal in far more places than marijuana. In states where access to cannabis for medical conditions is difficult, CBD has been instrumental for some users. 

There are a lot of conditions that may qualify users for medical marijuana with THC. Some include appetite loss, eating disorders, nausea, chronic pain, and glaucoma. 

CBD has only been FDA-approved for specific and rare forms of epilepsy, but there are many other reasons users turn to it. Some include anxiety, depression, chronic pain, skin conditions, and more. 

There is often an overlap in symptoms and reasons to choose CBD or THC for relief. Some people will choose to use high CBD strains with low THC for relief. This may get users high, but not as high as they would be with high THC strains. 

On the other hand, there are plenty of CBD products with small amounts of THC. If sold as CBD products, they must have below the legal limit for THC. This means they won’t be intoxicating. Instead, users might boost the effects from the symbiotic relationship of the plant parts. This type of CBD is known as full-spectrum. 

And then there are CBD products with no THC at all. Many users opt for these because they want the benefits of CBD only and do not want to have even trace amounts of THC. 

Recreation or wellness?

The biggest difference in CBD vs THC is the potential for recreation. Because THC intoxicates, it’s often just used for recreation. That’s not to say it doesn’t have medical potential. It just means not every user does so for medical purposes.  

CBD is not recreational because it doesn’t have intoxicating effects. That doesn’t mean you need to have a specific medical condition to use it, though. Some people use CBD to just get a sense of calm throughout their day or to help focus on tasks when they’re mind is getting a little too loud. 

Final thoughts on CBD vs THC 

Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between THC and CBD, we hope you will feel more empowered when looking for the right cannabis-related product for you. 

If you don’t want to get high, reach for CBD. Just remember that CBD is an unregulated market and if you don’t choose a product that was tested for purity and potency, there is a chance the product will have higher THC levels than the packaging says. And that explains why some people may feel they get high when they use CBD. 

Be sure to select a product that has been tested by an ISO-accredited laboratory. This ensures that the tests were conducted in line with industry standards.

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Pure CBD products have no detected levels of pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, or microbial contaminants.
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Products must contain between 0-0.3% THC under the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill.
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Products should contain high concentrations of CBD and less than 0.3% THC.
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CBD is not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration.