Very few studies point to CBD as being psychoactive. But is it psychoactive? This article considers that aspect.

A substance is considered psychoactive when it acts on the central nervous system and alters brain activity. A psychoactive substance results in temporary mood changes, behavior, perception, or consciousness. CBD does not contain intoxicating effects or cause any impaired cognitive function like THC. Besides, it does not have withdrawal effects. However, CBD affects the central nervous system by altering mood and perception. Many CBD users report feelings of calmness and relaxation after consuming CBD. Besides, a vast number of people use CBD for pain relief. 


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is made up of different endocannabinoids that bind with receptors throughout the nervous system. The ECS regulates body functions such as mood, appetite, pain, memory, and other brain-signaling systems.

The cannabis plant has many cannabinoids that interact with the ECS receptor. CB1 and CB2 are the primary receptors for cannabinoids. Browning et al. (2017) revealed that CB1 receptors are located in the brain and central nervous system;  they regulate pain, appetite, coordination, mood, and other functions. CB2 receptors are found throughout the body, mainly in the immune system. They regulate pain and inflammation.

The intoxicating effects of THC result from its ability to mimic anandamide, the body’s endocannabinoid that binds with the brain’s CB1 receptors associated with mood-boosting. THC binds to CB1 receptors more tightly than anandamide resulting in exaggerated feelings of euphoria.

Unlike THC, CBD’s effect on the receptors is mild and modulating. It binds loosely with the brain’s CB1 receptors. It acts as a modulator that decreases or increases the receptor’s ability to send signals. This modulation might be the basis for CBD’s ability to treat seizures and reduce symptoms related to depression and anxiety. CBD also modulates other body receptors such as serotonin which regulates mood, and opioid, which offers pain relief. For example, CBD reduces pain by suppressing the activity of these receptors.

CBD produces therapeutic effects by working in tandem with THC or any other cannabinoid that binds with CB1 receptors. This phenomenon is referred to as the “entourage effect,” meaning CBD is effective therapeutically in the presence of other cannabinoids such as THC. CBD may also suppress the intoxicating effects of THC.


Intoxication happens when a person loses control over their behavior or power. Drugs cause intoxicating effects like marijuana, alcohol, or cocaine. Psychoactive effects are temporary effects on the brain and the central nervous system to alter mood, perception, behavior, and consciousness. Several studies indicate CBD’s moderating effects on pain, anxiety, depression, and psychosis without causing an intoxicating effect. CBD does affect the brain and the central nervous system. It is safer to say that CBD is non-intoxicating than non-psychoactive. CBD seems to have psychoactive effects, however, not in the same way as THC.


CBD can alter your mood. It has been found to contain moderating effects on pain, anxiety, depression, seizures, psychosis, and other brain functions. CBD works jointly with THC and other cannabinoids that impact the central nervous system (CNS). CBD does not cause euphoria or any intoxicating effect. But to say that CBD is non-psychoactive is practically misleading to the consumer.


Most CBD extracts are derived from the hemp plant. Hemp is grown to contain high concentrations of CBD with only traces of THC. Marijuana, a cannabis plant, contains approximately 5% to 35% THC, while hemp contains less than 0.3% THC. Hemp is federally accepted as the trace amount of THC is too small to cause a “high .”Hemp-derived CBD is, therefore, legal in most states and jurisdictions.

Most CBD brands use the CO2 extraction method to extract CBD from hemp. CO2 extraction works well as it doesn’t allow for additional solvents or heat during the process. The hemp extract then undergoes fractional filtration where CBD is isolated and specific cannabinoids re-introduced to the desired concentration. Similarly, manufacturers isolate THC content leaving less than 0.3% in the final CBD concentrate.

Besides, when buying CBD products, ensure you ask for the Certificate of Analysis (COA). The COA contains third-party test results. It also indicates the presence of contaminants and the potency of any ingredient used in manufacturing to ensure the product is safe for consumption.

Due to the higher concentration of THC, CBD derived from marijuana can cause euphoria. However, the intensity is based on the ratio between CBD and THC. Hemp-derived CBD won’t get you high as it only contains trace amounts of THC.



People have been using cannabis to treat pain. Recently, researchers found out that some compounds of the cannabis plant are responsible for pain-relieving properties. Cunetti et al. (2018) noted that CBD has pain-relieving effects on patients experiencing chronic pain due to kidney transplants.


Mannucci et al. (2017) also added that CBD could produce beneficial effects on neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Multiple sclerosis (MS), Huntington’s disease (HD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and cerebral ischemia. However, some evidence was still not supported by sufficient data, thus calling for more research.


According to Peyravian et al. (2022), CBD can be beneficial as an adjuvant anti-inflammatory treatment for acne. CBD inhibits excessive lipid synthesis in the skin, thus reducing the chances of acne formation.


  • Antioxidant properties
  • Anxiety relief
  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-seizure


CBD is undoubtedly psychoactive. CBD has been found to have moderating effects on brain activity. It works jointly with THC and other cannabinoids on the central nervous system and brain. A psychoactive compound causes a temporary change in a person’s mood, perception, and consciousness. As much as CBD is non-intoxicating, it is also psychoactive. It seems to act on the brain and the central nervous system to modulate changes in the mind but not the behavior.


Browning, K. N., Verheijden, S., & Boeckxstaens, G. E. (2017). The Vagus Nerve In Appetite Regulation, Mood, And Intestinal Inflammation. Gastroenterology, 152(4), 730-744.

Cuñetti, L., Manzo, L., Peyraube, R., Arnaiz, J., Curi, L., & Orihuela, S. (2018, March). Chronic Pain Treatment With Cannabidiol In Kidney Transplant Patients In Uruguay. Transplantation Proceedings (Vol. 50, No. 2, Pp. 461-464). Elsevier.

Mannucci, C., Navarra, M., Calapai, F., Spagnolo, E. V., Busardò, F. P., Cas, R. D., … & Calapai, G. (2017). Neurological Aspects Of Medical Use Of Cannabidiol. CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders), 16(5), 541-553.

Peyravian, N., Deo, S., Daunert, S., & Jimenez, J. J. (2022). The Anti-Inflammatory Effects Of Cannabidiol (CBD) On Acne. Journal Of Inflammation Research, 15, 2795.

Barbara Santini

Barbara is a freelance writer and a sex and relationships adviser at Dimepiece LA and Peaches and Screams. Barbara is involved in various educational initiatives aimed at making sex advice more accessible to everyone and breaking stigmas around sex across various cultural communities. In her spare time, Barbara enjoys trawling through vintage markets in Brick Lane, exploring new places, painting and reading.

Latest from CBD