CBD Psychoactive

Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Psychoactive?

Since legal cannabis became more popular a few years ago, CBD has also grown in popularity, but is Cannabidiol (CBD) psychoactive? 

There have been many health claims made about CBD, and research shows that it has strong therapeutic potential. But while CBD may be gaining a reputation as an effective health treatment, it can be hard to separate CBD from cannabis. 

CBD is a compound found in cannabis, so it’s understandable to associate CBD with the effects of cannabis. But, as an isolated compound, it induces its own range of effects. 

So, is CBD psychoactive?


CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the major cannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD can induce a range of effects on the body, with studies showing its ability to impact mood, pain, inflammation, and sleep (1, 2, 3, 4). 

While most cannabinoids interact with endocannabinoid receptors, CBD induces its effects by binding to non-cannabinoid receptors and by modulating other receptor pathways. 

CBD is found in cannabis and hemp but is also readily available as an extract, depending on your state and country. CBD extract can be smoked, vaped, ingested, used as a topical, administered sublingually, or taken as a nasal spray. There are seemingly endless CBD products on the market today, meaning that it’s easy to choose a CBD product to best fit your needs and preferences. 

Can CBD Get You High?

While cannabis is associated with getting you high, CBD is quite different. 

CBD is not able to induce an intoxicating effect, so if you take a CBD-only extract, you won’t experience any feelings of being high. 

But how can CBD not induce a high if it is found in cannabis?

The answer to this is simple; another cannabinoid called THC is the substance responsible for the high associated with cannabis. 


Unlike CBD, THC can get you high.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main cannabinoid in cannabis. The THC percentage of a cannabis plant determines how intoxicating the plant will be.

So why does THC induce a high but CBD doesn’t?

One important difference between the two cannabinoids is how they interact with the body and induce their effects. THC induces most of its actions by binding to cannabinoid receptors like CB1 and CB2, while CBD only has a low binding affinity to these receptors. 

It is THC’s ability to bind to CB1 receptors that likely plays an important role in its trademark high. A 2001 study found that when the CB1 receptors were blocked, patients who consumed THC saw a 38-43% reduction in intoxication, indicating that the CB1 receptors facilitate THC’s intoxicating effects (5). 

CBD and THC also have distinct structural differences that might contribute to their different effects. While they both look quite similar on a molecular level, they have one distinct difference. THC contains a cyclic ring, while CBD has a hydroxyl group instead. This may not sound like much of a difference, but it means that CBD and THC will act as two very different compounds.

CBD Might Even Make THC Less Psychoactive 

CBD can’t get you high, but interestingly, it may even reduce the psychotropic effects of THC.

Anecdotal wisdom from regular cannabis users says that cannabis strains high in THC and low in CBD will provide the most intense highs. The more CBD present in cannabis, the less intense the intoxicating the effects will be. 

While anecdotal evidence should be taken with a grain of salt, there is some evidence that CBD reduces the high of THC. 

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology investigated the effect of CBD on THC intoxication. The study found that CBD treatment reduced the paranoia and psychotic symptoms induced by THC, and CBD also improved memory skills of those in the study. Overall, the study found that CBD may be able to stop the cognitive effects of THC, meaning that it may reduce its psychoactive effects (6). 

While CBD Can’t Get You High, It Still Is Technically Psychoactive

When you think of the word psychoactive, you may think of the high induced by substances like THC, opiates, or recreational drugs. 

However, psychoactive simply means a substance that affects the mind. 

While CBD can’t affect your mental state in an intoxicating way like THC (altering your sense of reality, hallucination, altered visual perceptions), it can have significant therapeutic effects on your mental state. 

Therapeutic Psychoactive Effects of CBD 

Therapeutic psychoactive effects include positive changes to mood, stress, cognitive function, or an improvement in the symptoms of any mental health disorder. 

CBD has shown a significant ability to act as a therapeutic psychoactive, with studies demonstrating its ability to:

  • Reduce Anxiety: A 2019 Gallup poll found that of the 14% of Americans asked who used CBD 20% of them using it specifically treat their anxiety. Current research shows that CBD has an anxiolytic action in both animal and double-blind human trials (7, 8, 9). 
  • Reduce Depression: CBD induced antidepressant-like effects in mice in one study that were comparable to the antidepressant imipramine and has been found increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness (10, 11)
  • Reduce Stress: CBD has demonstrated an ability to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is known for its role in the stress response, and CBD may reduce stress by reducing cortisol levels (12).
  • Improve Mood: Studies tell us that CBD treatment is able to improve overall mood and cognitive function. This may occur through CBD’s interaction with serotonin and cortisol levels (13, 14, 15).

The Bottom Line

CBD cannot get you high and acts differently to cannabis when consumed as an extract. 

While THC is responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis, and you won’t experience any kind of high from CBD alone, that doesn’t mean that CBD has no psychoactive effect. 

CBD acts as a psychoactive in the sense that it can improve mood, cognitive functioning, and help to reduce some of the symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

**Standard Disclaimer: CBD is not FDA-approved. We make no such claims that using our products will guarantee relief. Moreover, research regarding CBD is still ongoing and in the early stages.**

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