Hemp is a powerful plant, and a powerfully misunderstood one. Many people confuse hemp with marijuana, and while they hail from the same plant—cannabis—they’re very different from each other.
When most people think of cannabis, they think of marijuana. And if marijuana is known for anything, it’s for getting people high.
Here’s the thing: the reason marijuana makes people high is because it contains THC, not because it comes from cannabis.
In fact, marijuana is just one of several strains of cannabis. There’s also hemp, which is where many CBD products come from. Like THC, CBD is another chemical compound found in cannabis, but it has no psychoactive properties. In other words, CBD won’t get you high.
However, thanks to the confusion between marijuana, hemp, cannabis, and their ingredients, many people mistakenly believe that anything cannabis-related will get them high. But, as we explore in detail below, CBD does not get you high. Keep reading to understand why.
The Difference Between THC and CBD: Why CBD Doesn’t Get You High
CBD stands for cannabidiol. Like THC, it is one of over 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, which are found in the cannabis plant. THC has psychoactive properties, which is why it produces a feeling of being high when it binds to cannabinoid receptors in your brain. CBD, on the other hand, is a non-psychoactive compound, so it produces no “high” and doesn’t interfere with your cognitive functioning.
Among other cannabinoids, marijuana contains both CBD and THC, but it is the THC that produces the drug’s characteristic “high.” In fact, marijuana plants are cultivated to contain a higher concentration of THC, between 5% to 30%.
Although CBD is found in both marijuana and hemp (more on this below), CBD products are typically sourced from hemp plants. Hemp is a different strain of cannabis than marijuana, and it naturally produces higher concentrations of CBD, with little to no THC (0.3% or less). Thanks to the low concentration of THC in hemp, and thereby in any CBD products sourced from hemp, users will not experience any high.
Why Do People Use CBD?
Because the public discussion around marijuana focuses so heavily on its high, you may be wondering, why do people even use CBD, if it doesn’t get you high?
Both CBD and marijuana provide various health benefits, which is why medical marijuana is becoming legalized in more and more states. However, the medical benefits of marijuana also come with the high, and not everyone wants to have their cognitive functioning affected when they’re using it for a therapeutic purpose. Furthermore, in some cases, marijuana can have adverse side effects, like increased anxiety and paranoia.
With CBD, people can enjoy these same health benefits without the high or disruption to their mental functioning. What’s more, studies show that CBD has the ability to reduce THC-induced anxiety for patients.
Plus, studies have uncovered several benefits that are unique to CBD, such as its ability to help treat psychosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and severe forms of epilepsy.
Another attractive feature of CBD is that individuals do not develop a tolerance to it, as often happens with marijuana, allowing individuals to stick with a consistent dose through the length of their treatment.
Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
Because drug tests are designed to detect THC, CBD typically will not show up on a drug test. However, there are a few exceptions.
If you are taking extremely high levels of CBD—2,000 mg or more—it is possible the drug test could produce a false positive result. However, that is a very high dose, and likely to be an amount prescribed to treat a serious medical condition. In that case, you may already be covered under a law for medical CBD or medical marijuana in your state. Most CBD research thus far has focused on daily doses of 1,500 mg or less. Doses of this size have shown to be generally safe for humans and uneventful when it comes to side effects.
The other exception depends on whether you’re using pure CBD sourced from hemp, which contain 0.3% THC or less, or another type of CBD product. Full-spectrum CBD products, for instance, contain more cannabinoids, including up to 3% THC. CBD products sourced from marijuana may contain even higher amounts of THC. Either of these types of products may cause a positive result on a drug test for marijuana.
To avoid testing positive, your best bet is to use CBD isolates (which contain contain no THC at all) or CBD products sourced from hemp. These are legal nationally at a federal level, and are also explicitly approved in many states. These products are easy to buy both online and in drug stores. They’re also available in all the standard forms, including oils, vapes, gummies, powders, and more.
So, How Does CBD Make You Feel?
If CBD doesn’t get you high, how does it make you feel? The answer varies depending on the person and the condition you’re using CBD to treat.
Different forms of CBD take longer to produce their effects. Inhaled CBD will be felt almost instantly, while edible products like CBD candy have to go through the digestive system first. Whether it takes two minutes or two hours, you’ll start to feel the effects soon. You might feel a sense of relaxation, but the more noticeable effect will be relief from the condition you’re treating, such as anxiety or arthritis pain.
By Heather Davis with CBD Awareness Project