Understanding how cannabidiol (CBD) is playing on human system is a work in progress. But we are sure about one thing: unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.
CBD is non-psychoactive because it does not have the same binding affinity for the CB1 and CB2 receptors compared to THC. These receptors are highly concentrated in the brain, and when THC binds to it, the CB1 receptors are stimulated causing the psychoactive effect.
Why is THC psychoactive and CBD is not?
Until now, scientists have identified more than 60 different molecular pathways through which CBD operates. But when it comes to psychoactivity, we are dealing only with CB1 receptors. These receptors are responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effects. They are mainly in the brain (central nervous system or “CNS”). But also in the lungs, liver and kidneys.
The difference between CBD and THC comes down to a basic difference in how each one interacts with the CB1. THC partially mimics a naturally occurring neurotransmitter known as anandamide or “the bliss molecule.” Most of THC users enjoy the drug’s ability to induce a sense of euphoria and gives you the feeling to be”high”. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive, non-toxic and doesn’t have side effects.
THC vs CBD: The Friendly Battle
Since CBD does not bind well with CB1 receptors, it is categorised as an antagonist of CB1 agonists.
This means that it does not act directly to activate, or suppress CB1 receptors—rather, it acts to suppress the CB1-activating qualities of a cannabinoid like THC. CBD indirectly stimulates endogenous cannabinoid signaling, by suppressing the enzyme “fatty acid amide hydroxylase” (FAAH), the enzyme that breaks down anandamide the endogenous analogue of THC.
That is explaining why numerous studies suggest that CBD acts to reduce the intoxicating effects of THC, such as memory impairment and paranoia.
This difference in psychoactivity between CBD and THC is reflected by its legal status in most of the world. Since CBD has no secondary effects; non-psychoactive and non-toxic, it is legal in many countries and has less stigma associated with it.