CBD is said to be non-intoxicating, but can too much of the stuff leave users feeling buzzed?
Just a short decade ago, CBD was incredibly rare in commercial cannabis. Cultivators saw no reason to breed plants that didn’t get you high until stories like Charlotte Figi’s garnered international attention. These days, though, CBD is everywhere. The beauty industry uses it in skincare products. Local pharmacies and convenience stores stock rows of CBD tinctures. You can even sleep on top of a CBD-infused bed at night.
A large part of the newfangled ubiquity of CBD explicitly has to do with the fact that it doesn’t get you high. But just how true is that? Will smoking a bag of artisan hemp flower, like CBD kush or sour space candy, leave you feeling stoned?
What Is CBD?
To accurately answer that question, let’s first take a look at what exactly CBD is and how it interacts with our bodies.
CBD is a cannabinoid—a class of compound derived from the cannabis plant. When we consume cannabinoids, they can affect our mood, appetite, sexual stimulation, memory retention, and other key functions of the human body. They work by interacting with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a complex system of neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter receptors.
CBD Vs THC
We know there are over 100 different cannabinoids naturally produced by cannabis. However, CBD and THC get the most attention by far. If CBD is known for being non-intoxicating, THC is known for the opposite. The active ingredient in marijuana that produces the trippy high beloved by potheads is, in fact, THC.
Both CBD and THC work by interacting with the ECS, though they work in different ways. THC mimics the neurotransmitters our body already makes (endocannabinoids) and binds directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout the brain and nervous system. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t fit these receptors so snugly. Instead, CBD attaches to the peripherals of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, influencing the way our endocannabinoids and the other cannabinoids we consume affect our body and mind. Scientists speculate that this essential difference accounts for the dramatic difference between CBD and THC and why CBD seems to temper some of the more unpleasant side effects of THC in something called the entourage effect.
Non-intoxicating Vs Non-psychoactive
Some people have described CBD as being non-psychoactive, though that isn’t really accurate. Anything that influences the brain or nervous system is, in effect, psychoactive. As we just discussed, CBD can definitely impact our brains and nervous systems by interacting with the ECS. Technically, all pharmaceuticals are psychoactive.
When people describe CBD and non-psychoactive drugs, they are really trying to say that it won’t leave you feeling high or buzzed. That’s why it’s more correct to say that CBD is non-intoxicating.
Will Too Much CBD Get You High?
But what about at high doses? Is CBD still non-intoxicating if you take a lot of it? This is an important question, especially for those using CBD vape pens for anxiety who don’t want to exacerbate their distress or for people sourcing hemp for seniors with joint pain who have never considered smoking a joint before in their lives and are still wary of CBD.
Generally speaking, the answer is: no. However, there may be some outlying exceptions. If you’re using full-spectrum CBD instead of CBD distillate or broad-spectrum CBD, there will be other cannabinoids present, including THC, in order to encourage the entourage effect. While the amounts of THC are usually negligible, they could very easily cause you to feel intoxicated at extremely high doses. If you’re looking to avoid this, explicitly search the hemp store, vape shop, or online retailer you purchase CBD from for CBD isolate or CBD distillate. Also, avoid hemp flower as they will almost always be full-spectrum.
Even when using CBD isolate, which contains nothing but pure CBD, there are cases of consumers feeling stoned after taking CBD oil. Ultimately, we have unique biochemistries, and cannabinoids affect us all differently. If you’re feeling intoxicated after using CBD, it may be interacting with other prescription medicines, or you may just have increased sensitivity. A good rule of thumb is to always start out with a low dose of CBD and see how it affects you. If more is needed, you can always titrate up.