Does taking CBD prevent the “high” feeling from smoking cannabis (THC)?

Neuropsychopharmacology Journal with the headline Oral Cannabidiol does not Alter the Subjective, Reinforcing or Cardiovascular Effects of Smoked Cannabis
Our usual disclaimer: This is not, nor should it be construed, to be medical advice. The purpose of our Research Review series is to re-articulate the findings of research studies in an easy-to-understand manner.

A study published in 2015 suggests no.

In this small, early study, the researchers found that taking CBD 90 minutes before smoking a cannabis cigarette did not stop the effects produced by THC, including being “high”. It’s important to keep in mind that this was not a randomized controlled trial (the “gold standard” of clinical trials). This was a small study where only 31 patients were enrolled, breaking down to 17 males and 14 females.

The Nitty Gritty

They evaluated the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, cognitive tasks (think “mental gymnastics”), and mood, among other things before the patient smoked the cannabis and up to 2 hours after. Patients were given either 0, 200, 400, or 800 mg of CBD. Notably, the number of reported side effects by the patients, including upset stomach, headache, fatigue, and increased heart rate, did not correlate with increased doses of CBD. These results seem to suggest doses up to 800 mg per day may not come with too many side effects (remember, this is not medical advice ; ). Shoppers at Halso should note that this is for CBD only and does not include full hemp extracts, which will include other cannabinoids, including THC. So, you can’t expect to purchase a full hemp extract product, which will have additional cannabinoids outside of CBD, and think you can take 800 mg of CBD without side effects. This an early and small study so the results likely may not apply to you. The researchers note that their results are in contrast to other studies, which found that CBD might help reduce forgetfulness and anxiety when one is “high” – basically saying that CBD can help reduce the effects of being high. They also did not assess whether CBD altered the biological metabolism of THC, though there is little to suggest that this occurs in humans.

The Takeaway

The key takeaway here, though, is that CBD does not reduce THC’s ‘high” feeling or other cardiovascular effects that happen when one is high. From the paper, this study “provides no evidence that acute administration of oral CBD reduces the reinforcing or positive subjective effects of cannabis in current cannabis smokers.” So, if you plan to take CBD in order to prevent the “high” feeling produced from THC, this study suggests you won’t find any relief that way.