What Is CBD Oil, Where Does It Come From, and Will It Make Me High or Relax Me?
If you’re thinking about using cannabidiol oil (CBD) for the first time, these are common questions. Even for people familiar with marijuana use, these are relevant questions. Perhaps you’ve already looked for answers. Quite likely what you found got you more confused. Often, that’s because in today’s writings, there’s a lot of erroneous information written about CBD. This bad information is further complicated by an interchange of words that typically can muddle your attempts at learning about this product.
In many cases, the terms marijuana, hemp, cannabis, CBD, THC, hemp oil, cannabis oil, marijuana oil, and THC oil or other iterations combining these terms are used interchangeably – but there are distinct differences to note.
To properly answer the first two questions, you need to understand what cannabis, marijuana, and hemp are before you can begin to comprehend anything about the oil that comes from them. It helps to start by taking a look at the plant’s taxonomy – kind of like a family tree so to speak.
The Cannabis Family Hierarchy
FAMILY: At the top of the “family tree” is Cannabaceae – an overarching genus of flowering plants.
GENUS: Under the Cannabaceae family comes Cannabis, a genus of plant that has various species.
Cannabis is an annual herbaceous plant with either male or female reproductive organs. As with most plants, the female must be pollinated by the male in order to produce seeds to further reproduction. In some cases, this pollination is blocked by growers in order to allow the female plants that don’t receive pollen (referred to as sinsemilla – Spanish for “without seed”) to produce buds that are larger than normal and very resinous. It is this resin that is commonly used for smoking, vaporizing, or it is processed into oils.
Cannabis plants contain a psychoactive chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in varying amounts depending on the subspecies. THC is the active ingredient of cannabis that produces the sensation of euphoria or being “high.” Sometimes THC is used by individuals for medical reasons but it is primarily intended for recreational purposes.
Additionally, cannabis has other naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are known to affect the human body in various ways by acting on the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating various processes in the body such as cell communication, immune response, metabolism, appetite control, memory, and more.
SPECIES: The most commonly known species of cannabis are Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.
Sativa plants are the largest of the cannabis species, growing to approximately 9 feet on slim bushes with longer leaves than ruderalis or indica. Use of this plant is primarily for inducing euphoric and energetic sensations.
Indica plants are short and bushy, though these are best suited for growth in colder climates. Indicas are known for inducing a relaxing physical sensation and are often used as sleep aids or for appetite control.
The least known of the three cannabis species, ruderalis is usually found wild as it can adapt to extreme environments. Similar to in size to indicas, It is a short and compact plant that contains less than 0.3% THC and is found to have high levels of CBD.
Of importance is that sativa has two subspecies (or variations) depending on how it’s grown and on the intended end use – the first called marijuana and the second called hemp.
Subspecies #1: Marijuana
The marijuana plant is usually carefully cultivated, both indoor and outdoor, utilizing non-fertilized female plants grown to produce large buds which have a high percentage of THC. It is harvested for its euphoric, relaxing, and psychoactive properties. The plant is cultivated for its highly resinous flowers containing an abundance of cannabinoids. The THC content of marijuana is much higher than it is in hemp.
Subspecies #2: Hemp
The hemp plant is typically a commercially harvested, outdoor grown plant that is sturdy and tall – up to 13 feet in height. It is free to pollinate so that the entire plant can be used for many purposes: rope, clothing, food, cosmetics, fuels, construction materials, paper, and more. Its flowers are specifically harvested for the plant’s cannabinoid content. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is among the most abundant of all the cannabinoids. Hemp was originally called by just its species name “cannabis sativa” – another factor that lends to confusion.
THC is present in trace amounts in the cannabidiol derived from hemp. The concentration of THC is usually negligible and rigorous testing and remediation to ensure it is below the legal limit of 0.3% THC that typically keeps hemp-based consumable products from being classified as psychoactive.
We’ve answered the first two questions, so now let’s get back to the last one…
Will CBD Oil Make Me High?
Typically not, but it depends on a few factors.
CBD Oil can be sourced from either marijuana or hemp plants. The biggest difference in the end product will be the ratio between CBD and THC. With oil derived from marijuana, the product may be sourced from selectively bred strains that produce high levels of THC – anywhere from 5 to 30%. But with a hemp-based oil, the THC content does not exceed the legal limit of 0.3%.
So yes – CBD oil can make you feel high if it’s made from marijuana plants due to the much larger volume of THC than what is derived from hemp plants or proper testing and remediation is not completed.
How Can It Make Me Feel Relaxed and Avoid Getting High?
Edible products like chocolates or gummies should come from a hemp-derived CBD oil as the THC level is extremely low, meaning that there should be no psychoactive activity felt. Many edible products are infused with hemp CBD to support the endocannabinoid system. Proactively supporting the endocannabinoid system with CBD oil is thought to help by decreasing pain and inflammation and further by naturally inducing relaxation, ultimately leading to an overall state of balance and well-being.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully this helps to dispel some of the confusion about what CBD oil is, where it comes from, and shows the different effects it can have. Most importantly, you should now have an understanding that it’s important to carefully check on the origin of the CBD oil (marijuana or hemp) to ensure you are picking the right product for the effects you desire.
I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!