EducationCan you get high from CBD oil? Risks and mitigations

Can you get high from CBD oil? Risks and mitigations

7 min read

Lydia Kariuki

Can you get high from CBD oil? Risks and mitigations
Getting high from CBD oil is a major concern that would-be patients sometimes express, and it's a valid one. Cannabis gets people high, right? So why would one not get high if they consumed cannabis in the form of CBD oil?


The short answer is that cannabis has numerous bioactive cannabinoids, and only a handful (delta-9-THC and its analogues) are intoxicating. CBD is not one of them, and that is why you will not get high from taking CBD.

However, it is not as simple as that. So here is the long answer.

Why does cannabis make people high?

Cannabis contains various chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects or the "high" experienced by people when using cannabis.

Here's how it works:

THC binds to CB1 receptors, which are predominantly found in the brain and central nervous system. These receptors are a component of the endocannabinoid system, the system which regulates various physiological processes such as pain and inflammation, hormonal function, digestion, memory, learning, and mood among others.

When THC binds to CB1 receptors, it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain's reward system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. When it is released, it causes extreme happiness or euphoria, the feeling of being "high." 

Note that one of the body’s endogenous cannabinoids, anandamide (also commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule”) is responsible for the feeling of happiness and also binds to the CB1 receptor. THC and anandamide share an almost identical structure and shape, which is the reason that they produce similar effects when interacting with the ECS.

THC can also influence other neurotransmitter systems, including gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, and serotonin. These interactions contribute to the overall psychoactive effects of cannabis.

CBD does not bind to the cb1 receptor

On the other hand, CBD does not bind to the CB1 receptor (or if it does, it is in a much weaker capacity) and therefore it does not trigger the release of dopamine. In fact, CBD has a weak affinity for both receptors of the endocannabinoid system; CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

Some earlier studies suggested that CBD is a reverse agonist of the CB1 receptor. This would mean that CBD reverses some of the effects of THC. However, the evidence on this is conflicting.

So, the long answer to “can you get high from CBD?” is; no, you can’t get high from CBD because it does not bind to CB1 receptors like THC does. When THC binds to CB1 receptors, it triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes euphoria.

But there’s more.

Other cannabinoids that can make you high

This might catch you by surprise.

THC is not the only cannabinoid that can make you ‘high’, as analogues of THC can also cause euphoria. Delta 8 THC, an analogue of THC (delta-9-THC), gained a lot of prominence in the last three years due to its ability to induce euphoria “legally.” In some quarters, it has earned the moniker “weed lite.”

Delta 8, just like THC, binds to CB1 receptors and is able to induce a high. However, it binds to these receptors with less affinity compared to THC. Therefore, it induces a subtle high, with some research suggesting it is about two thirds as potent as delta- 9 THC.

Delta 8 occurs in very small quantities in cannabis, it is one of the minor cannabinoids. Extracting it from cannabis is not cost-effective. Surprisingly, delta 8 can be manufactured from CBD.

So, while you can’t get high from CBD, you can get high from delta-8 which has been manufactured from CBD. This could be hemp-derived CBD that is legal in the UK.

Interesting, right?

To convert CBD to delta-8-THC, the CBD is heated in an organic solvent like toluene or heptane. A catalyst such as p-toluenesulfonic acid is added to the mixture to speed up the reflux process. The aim is to effectively close the ring within the CBD molecule, resulting in the formation of delta-8-THC. This process should take 60 to 90 minutes.

Is delta-8-THC legal in the UK?

No, delta 8 is not legal in the UK. The UK government has taken comprehensive measures to close any potential loopholes by classifying THC analogues and derivatives as Class B drugs. The production or use of these compounds carries a potential sentence of up to five years.

Synthetic cannabinoids are also prohibited, and therefore delta-8 is not available as a standalone supplement in the UK. However, small amounts of delta-8 may be present in certain popular CBD products. Hence, it is always important to check the certificate of analysis (COA) to check if the CBD that you are buying has any delta 8 present.

Will taking too much CBD oil make me high?

No, taking too much CBD oil will never make you high. Not unless the CBD contains THC in significant amounts. Studies have shown that CBD, even when it is consumed in high amounts, is safe and well tolerated by most people. 

Consuming too much CBD might trigger some adverse effects such as GI disturbances, low blood pressure, drowsiness, and nausea. However, you are very unlikely to get intoxicated as a result of consuming too much CBD.

How can CBD make you high?

CBD in and of itself cannot cause an intoxicating effect, for reasons explained above. But should the CBD product contain more than trace amounts of THC, then the possibility of intoxication is definitely there. 

The CBD oil or alternative could be a full-spectrum product that contains other cannabinoids, including THC. Alternatively, if you are new to THC, even small amounts of THC might be intoxicating, again depending on your unique individual factors. In addition, you might also get intoxicated after consuming delta-8 THC which has been marketed and packaged as CBD. While there are only a handful of cases where this has been reported, it is still something that you should be aware of.

How to prevent getting high from CBD oil

There is only one sure-fire way to prevent getting high from CBD. That is, by guaranteeing that you always purchase CBD from reputable vendors. There are a number of pointers that you can be on the lookout for. One critical one is the certificate of analysis (COA) which guarantees that the CBD has been tested independently by a third-party laboratory. The COA lists all the compounds that are present in the CBD product and their quantities. At the end of the day, bear in mind that pure CBD can’t make you high, so the only way to get high from CBD is to consume CBD products that are contaminated with intoxicating cannabinoids such as THC.


Current science and research have clearly demonstrated that CBD itself does not make you high, as it does not bind to the CB1 receptor like THC. However, there are other cannabinoids that can make you high, such as THC and its analogues.

By always sourcing your CBD products from reputable sources, you will ensure that the product contains no intoxicating cannabinoid levels and therefore will not make you high. If you are ever in doubt, always check the certificate of analysis (COA) before administering any new CBD product.

Here at Releaf, we provide an all-in-one medicinal cannabis solution. We ensure that all of our products are tested for accuracy and potency before being made available to patients, so you can rest assured that your prescription is only made up of the highest quality CBD and THC products. Contact us today to learn more about medicinal cannabis solutions.

Releaf understands the importance of medical cannabis in treating various medical conditions. With our tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, you can access the treatment you need without worrying about the stigma. 

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Lydia Kariuki, a medical nurse and journalist with a diploma in clinical research, specialises in translating complex cannabis research into accessible content, fostering public understanding and awareness.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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