The first time someone hears about cannabis, their first question is usually whether products like hemp oil are psychoactive. In this article we will explain why CBD is not psychoactive, whilst THC is.

Psychoactive cannabinoids

In order to talk about cannabis and its psychoactive effects, we must first explain how cannabinoids such as THC and CBD only interact with the CB1 receptors located in both the brain and in the central nervous system.

What is the difference between THC and CBD? It is very simple: both interact with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor, but tetrahydrocannabinol has a high affinity for this type of cannabinoid receptor where as Cannabidiol has little affinity for the CB1 receptors.



THC is a cannabinoid receptor agonist that connects, activates and stimulates the receptors. In a way it mimics anandamide, a natural endocannabinoid that activates a CB1 receptor and is known as the “molecule of happiness” because, according to several studies, it can increase appetite and the pleasing feeling associated with food consumption. In addition it could also be responsible for the effects, such as feeling pleasure after exercising. The fact that THC resembles anandamide is what causes the feelings of happiness and pleasure.


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CBD plays a totally opposite role to THC


CBD, an antagonist of THC

CBD plays a totally opposite role to THC. It has no affinity for the CB1 receptors, it is considered an antagonist, causing it to not act directly and to activate and supress these cannabinoid receptors. On the contrary, the CBD suppresses the properties that are activated in CB1 receptors through the THC.

In summary, when THC and CBD are ingested, THC stimulates the CB1 receptors but cannabidiol exerts a counteractive effect to the THC. For this reason using products with cannabis or hemp oil will not result in the user feeling ‘high’ or experiencing psychoactive feelings.

Is THC a bad cannabinoid?

THC is often perceived as the “bad” cannabinoid and CBD is referred to as the “good” cannabinoid. Raphael Mechoulam, the Israeli professor who discovered THC and isolated it for the first time, recalls that cannabinoids and terpenes work better together than separately. As the research progresses more information about other cannabinoids will soon be discovered, CBD will be able to be more accurately dosed, and new information about how CBD may work in combination with other cannabis and cannabinoid compounds will be discovered.

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