Stoned Science: Interactions Between THC and CBD

Photo by Jesse Faatz

Often when people smoke marijuana, all of the credit for the high is given to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but this isn’t the whole story. Through previous discussions you might recall that cannabidiol (CBD), alone, does not get you high. While this is true, there are some important interactions to consider.

Does CBD affect the high that THC provides and how does it do so?

Our bodies are broken up into many systems (i.e. cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, etc.), but one important system that doesn’t get much attention is the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

As you may have guessed, our ECS interacts with cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. But it is more involved than you might imagine. The ECS is imperative to the body’s normal functioning—assisting in the regulation of pain and hunger to name a few.

The primary components of the ECS are cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB-1, and CB-2). THC primarily acts on CB-1. Consequently CB-1 is the receptor most studied and associated with our high.

In previous articles we discussed the similarities/differences between THC and CBD on a chemical, and biological scale. We learned through behavioral/psychological experiments that CBD alone has no effect on our consciousness, yet CBD affects the same areas of the brain as THC, though in an opposite manner.

Recent studies have demonstrated that CBD counteracts the sensation of a high, and thankfully so! Studies done where pure THC was administered to participants showed that there were heightened senses of paranoia and anxiety. Now, while some people do feel this way after smoking, most would agree that the feeling is rather pleasant.

Therefore, there must be something more to the high than THC. It was not until CBD was administered with THC that feelings of euphoria appeared; a more familiar feeling that I think we all know and enjoy.

One natural conclusion could be that the high is entirely caused by THC, and it is just too strong. So perhaps the good feelings that are associated with CBD are really just a product of the fact that it diminishes the effects of THC. Perhaps, there are synergistic effects, and CBD is actually modulating the effects of THC.

Truth be told, there needs to be more research in the combinatorial effects of THC and CBD, but one thing is for certain. If you want to enjoy the ever famous euphoric high produced from smoking, you need both THC, CBD and a plethora of other minor cannabinoids present in bud and concentrates.

There are many known benefits of CBD, such as anti-cancerous properties, and it is possible to gain the medical benefits of cannabis without the high. While the high is fun, it may be against some peoples beliefs to alter the mind, or against work policy to come in stoned. These policies and belief systems should not halt people from receiving the care and benefits provided by CBD.

Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where CBD is a schedule I drugjust because of its proximity to THC. It would appear that we will not be able to reap the benefits of this wonderful plant until our federal policies catch up with public opinion, and above all science.

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