Separating Fact From Fiction: The Truth About CBD vs. THC High

There is a ton of misunderstanding out there about the differences and similarities between THC and CBD. While they come from the same source, they are not the same substance.

The main difference is in the experience you have with each substance. In this article, we’re going to breakdown the CBD high vs THC high so you can finally understand what makes them different. 

Once you know the difference, which one is right for you? It ultimately depends on what you’re looking to get from your experience. Do you want the full medicinal benefits and a euphoric high, or do you want a toned-down experience that still has health benefits?

What happens if you combine the two substances? We’re going to answer these questions and more. 

CBD vs THC Main Similarities and Differences

CBD and THC are both isolated compounds that come from the Cannabis Sativa plant, which contains over 100 different types of cannabinoids. Almost all variations of the plant contain some CBD and THC in various amounts. However, most CBD is derived from hemp, and most THC is derived from marijuana.

Since they have the same origin, they have a lot of the same properties. For instance, they’re both known to help with anxiety, sleep, pain, and other health issues.

Why do most CBD products come from hemp plants? Hemp is more plentiful in CBD and doesn’t contain much THC. In fact, all hemp-derived CBD products are legal in the US as long as they contain less than 0.3% of THC.

What exactly is THC, and why does it matter if it is in CBD products or not? THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is the part of the cannabis plant that produces a high. 

THC High Explained

THC can produce a powerful psychoactive high because it is when consumed, it binds to cannabinoid 1 and cannabinoid 2 receptors in the body. These receptors are found in the central nervous system, lungs, liver, kidney, and immune system.

When THC binds with these receptors, it stimulates a dopamine release that leads to a euphoric high feeling. While the high is typically enjoyable, there are some downsides to it.  

The effects of a THC high include:

  • Hunger
  • Losing track of time
  • Relaxation or sedation
  • Dry or glassy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anxiousness
  • Paranoia
  • Memory impairment
  • Dry mouth

Everyone has different experiences with THC and reacts to the high differently. Your experience also depends on how you consume THC. For example, you may experience different effects from your high when your smoke marijuana versus when you consume THC edibles. 

Other ways to consume THC include vaping, in beverages, and in tinctures.

What happens when you consume CBD? Does it have the same effect as THC? Let’s breakdown how CBD works with your brain and how your body responds to it.

CBD High vs THC High Explained

When you take CBD, or cannabidiol, by itself, you will not experience a psychoactive high. These days, you can get CBD in the form of oils, gummies, tinctures, lotions, and more. However, it is not typically smoked like THC.

People use it to reduce anxiety, sleep better, soothe joint pain, calm inflammation, and more without dealing with getting stoned. The reason you don’t get high from CBD products by themselves is that they lack THC. 

THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis plants. Since the 2018 Farm Bill requires that all legal CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC, they don’t have enough to produce a high sensation.  

Why doesn’t CBD produce a high like THC? The answer is that it doesn’t bind to cannabinoid 1 and cannabinoid 2 receptors in the brain as THC does. Without that process, consuming CBD by itself does not release dopamine in the brain either, which is how a high happens.

The Entourage Effect

In fact, consuming CBD may actually reduce the psychoactive effects of THC. New studies are finding that CBD and THC can balance each other out. When taken together, phytocannabinoids and terpenes interact to cause an “entourage effect.”

Studies around the entourage effect are new and ongoing, but the theory is that when you take CBD and THC together, you can achieve more of the therapeutic benefits of both compounds without the negatives side effects of getting high.  

Essentially, you can experience all the good parts of a euphoric high, like ultimate relaxation, without the downsides like increased hunger, paranoia, and trouble concentrating.

Again, everyone experiences both substances differently. There is not a one size fits all reaction to CBD or THC. However, a rule of thumb for distinguishing the two is to remember that THC produces a high while CBD does not.

If you want to try taking CBD and THC together, talk to your health care provider about the right ratio to take. Start with a small dose and experiment with the best way to use them. Some people like taking them at the same time, while others prefer to follow THC with CBD. 

CBD Benefits Without THC

What about just taking CBD by itself? Will you still experience amazing benefits? While you won’t experience a psychoactive high or the entourage effect without THC, you can still get a lot of benefits from taking CBD by itself.

Even though CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, it’s not enough to get high. For some people, not getting high is a benefit. Most CBD will not cause you to fail a drug test, so it’s easier to use on a regular basis for things like chronic pain, sleep disorders, inflammation, and more.

If you do fail a drug test because of a CBD product, it’s because it contains a higher level of THC. However, to be a legal product, it should still only contain up to 0.3%. Check the ingredients of your CBD products if you are worried about being drug tested.

More benefits of taking CBD alone include:

  • Reducing seizures in epilepsy patients
  • Central nerve-related pain relief (helpful for multiple sclerosis patients)
  • Positive effect on serotonin levels in the brain
  • Potential arthritis pain relief
  • Anxiety relief
  • Potential depression relief
  • Improved sleep
  • Effective acne treatment (when used topically)
  • Provides autoimmune condition support

Studies of the benefits and side effects of taking CBD are ongoing. However, if you’re looking for the benefits of THC but don’t want to get high, CBD products are a great option.

Delta 8 THC

To fully understand THC, you also need to understand the difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC types. In 2018, the Agricultural Improvement (also known as the Farm Bill) legalized Delta 8 THC federally. 

What is Delta 8 and how is it different from other types of THC? Delta 8 is an amazing alternative for anyone who wants the medicinal benefits of THC, aka Delta 9, without the negative side effects of a high. 

Delta 9 THC can lead to addiction, laziness, anxiety, and other unsavory side effects. Delta 8, on the other hand, doesn’t have these side effects. 

Unlike CBD, Delta 8 doesn’t totally eliminate the high. It just makes the high more enjoyable without the negative effects. This is great news for anyone who wants the medicinal benefits of THC with some level of high.

Delta 8 also has a reduced risk of addiction and even has a built-in resistance to drug abuse. When you take Delta 8 regularly, you build up a tolerance to the mental high. This makes it easier to function on Delta 8, which means you can get the medicinal benefits without it disrupting your daily life.

When you do have a tolerance to Delta 8, eventually you may lose the high feeling altogether. While you’re still getting the benefits of THC, you may miss the high experience. 

If you want to get your high back, simply take a tolerance break and stop using Delta 8 THC for seven to eight days. This will help your body reset and have a different reaction. 

You can use CBD products as a substitute during your tolerance break until you reintroduce Delta 8. Discover more about how to take a tolerance break from the blog. 

Why Type of Cannabis Is Right For You?

You might be feeling overwhelmed by all of the different cannabis options. The truth is that we haven’t even begun studying the fullness of the Cannabis Sativa plant. There are hundreds of strands and compounds that we don’t know that much about yet.

However, with what we do know about THC and CBD, the two most studied compounds, you should be able to find something for your needs.

It ultimately depends on what your objectives for taking cannabis are. Are you after the high experience? Do you want relief from chronic pain? Want to ease anxiety symptoms?

When choosing the best cannabis type for you, you should also consult your health care provider. Your doctor will understand your specific situation better and can educate you on how you might react to each type of cannabis.

We’ll breakdown general rules for how to choose the right type, but remember that cannabis is not a one size fits all substance. You may need to experiment with different types and doses to discover what works best for you.

When to Choose THC

Choose THC when you want the medicinal benefits of cannabis and the euphoric high experience. However, be warned that THC will cause you to fail a drug test.

For a more intense high that is harder to build a tolerance to, choose Delta 9. Just keep in mind that Delta 9 comes with the negative side effects of a high, like paranoia, fatigue, memory impairment, and the other side effects listed above.

Delta 9 is also more prone to lead to drug abuse and addiction. If you have a history of addiction or genetic disposition for it, you should avoid Delta 9 THC.

Delta 9 is legal in some states, but not all, so you have to be careful about where you use it.

Choose Delta 8 THC for the medicinal benefits of cannabis and some of the effects of a high. The high will be less intense, but most people report being more clear-headed during a Delta 8 high than a Delta 9 high. 

While you won’t be as likely to abuse Delta 8 THC, you can quickly build up a tolerance to it, which reduces the feeling of the high.

The major benefit to Delta 8 is that it’s legal federally, so it will also keep you out of trouble no matter where you are in the US. 

When to Choose CBD

Choose CBD when you want the benefits of cannabis but don’t want to experience any type of high. However, just because you don’t experience a high doesn’t mean that CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects. 

CBD can still impact your mind and behavior, which makes it psychoactive by definition

CBD is the right choice when you want to take cannabis on a regular basis for the benefits and maintain your regular levels of functioning. It’s also a good choice for anyone prone to addiction who doesn’t want to tempt themselves with THC. 

Since CBD is legal and easy to buy anywhere in the US, it’s the most accessible way to get the benefits of cannabis without the negative side effects or risks associated with THC. 

When to Combine THC and CBD

If you want to achieve the “entourage effect,” you can try using THC and CBD simultaneously. You could experience all the medicinal benefits with a more balanced high.

However, keep in mind that research on the entourage effect is early and ongoing. Consult your doctor before combining any cannabis substances.

Cannabis Explained

Hopefully, you now know more about cannabis than you ever did before. If you still need help remembering the difference between THC and CBD, just remember the CBD high vs THC high rule. CBD does not get you high, while THC does. 

Which type of cannabis is right for you depends on your needs and the experience you want to have. If you decide that THC is right for you, Delta 8 THC is a great legal option. 

As cannabis research and the cannabis industry expands, more THC and CBD options will become available all the time. For more health resources, check out the rest of the blog. 

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].