CBD – The Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoid?

    I don’t agree.  I believe that CBD is psychoactive in its own right.  The commonly held wisdom is that CBD counteracts or ameliorates the effects of THC, is anti-psychotic, pain relieving but non-psychoactive.

    So, I have my own theory.  The only evidence I can offer is from experience.  Firstly my own, both over time and one particular, recent incident.  Secondly, an experience we can all share that provides insight – even without consuming cannabis!

    Before the evidence though, I just don’t think these four principal effects add up.  Anti-THC, anti-psychotic, pain relief and non-psychoactive?

    How can something be said to provide pain relief yet not provide any psychoactive effect?  Why would nature evolve components that cancel each other out for no individual value?

    In my experience, cannabis is nowhere near as simple as that.  It is an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic in one.  As well as CBD, THC provides pain relief in the sense of mood control.  Many who use cannabis for chronic pain report that the pain is still there, it is just easier to cope with.  We know that research is actively pursing the therapeutic effects of THCv, CBC, CBG and other cannabinoids.  Even GW acknowledges that the less well known cannabinoids boost the effect of THC by up to 330%(see ref 1)!  (So much for the deception that Sativex is just THC and CBD.)

    The complex effect of more than 100 cannabinoids in every natural cannabis product is  a very long way from being fully understood.  A hopeful sign is that Echo Pharmaceuticals of Nijmegen is now offering cannabinoid extracts from Bedrocan cannabis as shown in the table.

    Echo Pharmaceuticals. Available Cannabinoid Standards

    It’s not just cannabinoids though, cannabis also contains flavonoids and terpenes or terpenoids, all of which have an effect.  This is why modern, reductionist medicine finds it so difficult to deal with cannabis, even though its safety and efficacy have been proved over more than 5000 years.

    Of course, CBD does ameliorate or modify the effects of THC and here I turn to my  long term, personal experience.  In the 1970s, I was raised on Lebanese hash, Red Leb and Yellow or Gold Leb.  It was gorgeous, moist and oily and although I had no idea at the time I can now look back and recognise that it was well balanced with CBD and THC and individual characteristics accounted for by other components.  I don’t know whether they were cannabinoids, terpenoids or something else but they define each individual type of weed or hash and give each one a particular quality.  This is where the analogy with wine is so appropriate.  Cannabis can be understood and appreciated in a very similar way.

    We now know that the Moroccan hash that dominated the 1980s was balanced with THC and CBD.  High THC charas (hand-rubbed hashish) contains far higher proportions of CBD than is found in modern, prohibition-fuelled, maxed out THC weed.  It was a far more pleasant smoke.  It was mellow.  It’s true that some modern weed is far too buzzy, nervy.  Yes, it is far more likely to make you a little para than a bit of hash.  I have experimented with a few sprays of Sativex on a couple of occasions and it is easy to recognise the effect as being more like CBD rich hashish.

    So it was with delight that a few weeks ago, for the first time in too many years, I found myself with a small piece of fine Afghani charas.  It was delicious, in a smoochy, comfortable, completely relaxing way that I miss so much.  I’m a pure smoker and have been for 20 years so I burned it in my small brass pipe and eked it out as for as long as I could.  I remembered what well balanced cannabis is.  In fact, what it would be to have a choice?  That’s never been the case in Britain.  All my life I’ve just been grateful for whatever Mr Big has on offer.  Only very rarely and a long time ago do I remember being offered a choice. That was always the delight of a trip to the Dam and a few days with the equivalent of a box of chocolates or the cellars of some fine vintner.

    My final evidence is the BBC documentary “Should I Smoke Dope”.  It’s actually an excellent programme, spoiled by the chav rock chick presenter who makes the whole thing come across as very trivial.   In fact, it provides some fascinating information.  In particular, when our heroine is fed intravenous THC alone and then combined with CBD.  The results are revelatory and anyone who has experience of varieties of cannabis will recognise the truth in what is shown.  It makes my point for me perfectly.

    CBD doesn’t just cancel out THC.  It modifies the effect of cannabis in a vital way.  Those, much younger than me, who have been brought up on “prohibition skunk” are missing out big time and yes, are put at greater risk as a result.  It is undoubtedly true that any negative effect of cannabis is likely to come from high THC content.  Prohibition is a deeply harmful, self-defeating, dangeous and immoral policy.

    It also prevents the delightful, positive, life-enhancing wondrous gift of cannabis from being at its best and that, in my opinion, is a sin.



    1.The ingredients having the greatest effects on the cannabis taste would most probably be the fragrant terpenes within the essential oils. Some of these have their own pharmacology and have been cited as likely synergists in mixtures with cannabinoids (McPartland and Russo, 2001). The potential benefit of these ingredients was demonstrated in a test measuring pain relief in mice, in which unknown powerful synergists produced a 330% increase in activity compared to THC alone (Fairbairn and Pickens, 1981). Synergistically improved efficacy of cannabis extracts over THC-alone was also demonstrated in a mouse model which assessed their antispacticity effects (Williamson, 2001).  David Potter 2009

    • Mark

      I’ll definitely be giving the various hashish’s a go when I’m at the cannabis cup in November. Thanks Peter, you’ve made me look forward to it even more.
      I certainly don’t miss that soap bar rubbish!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Morton/100002114691648 Tim Morton

      Many of us will be aware of the profound differences between eating and smoking hash, or bud. So, we are aware that even the method of consumption, makes a huge difference. I concur with much of the above but suspect the reductionist analysis of cannabis is missing the point. It does appear to have many separate applications and I therefore tend towards the view that the synergy involved cannot be undone.

    • Martialant

      When i DONT make cannabutter from my vapopoo (the left overs from my vaporisers) that i DONT have, i can safely say that the CBD does have an effect. Its not like proper cannabutter from bud, the THC in that really gets one stoned but, the VPbutter definitely couchlocks one without ones head boinging about. From the evidence of ones trials, one can say it really works for anxiety stress (losing in the Family courts), toothache & a damaged trapezium muscle (injury from 1997, living on codeine for that long is crap).

      I say i DONT coz to DO is illegal for some crazy crazy reason. So for that reason i am not admiting to anything.

      If i was allowed into the Commons tea rooms with my fandabbydozey muffins, cannabis would probably be legalised on the same day. The anally retentive twits dont know what they are missing.

      CBD is a fantastic body stone, which i prefer to a dominant THC stone. CBD works & i am so so grateful for it.

    • Mechant404

      Respectfully i disagree.

      CBD is a THC Antagonist, this means it prevents THC binding to receptors by bonding more strongly to these receptors than THC can.
      Hortapharm have plants which grow pure CBD resin. Hortapharm have tested the resin and there is no high- in fact if you smoke a high CBD flower it will stop the effects of priorly ingested THC and prevent you from getting high on THC for as long as it takes for the CBD to breakdown in your body, it could be hours.

      As for analgesic effects, Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol are all non psychoactive painkillers.

      “Why would nature evolve components that cancel each other out for no individual value?” Why wouldn’t it? 

      Part of the reason Leb Hash is more relaxing than skunk is that is low THC.  Most strains from north Africa and the Levant are very resinous but low THC and high CBD. 

    • Anonymous

      The modern patriarchal medical overlords continue to maintain the feudal status quo which harks back to the time when local herbalists and the followers of Wicca etc were persecuted and labelled as ‘witches’ because they undermined the control and religious dictatorship of the ruling patriarchy.

      Contemporaneously this medical dictatorship is maintained through a reductionist protocol followed by the big pharma for two reasons: one – that it is antagonistic to holistic and ‘natural’ systems, its main competitor, and two – because you can generate considerably more income by isolating and subdividing and marketing the various components even though they have traditionally been used synergistically (with good reason).

      In my opinion it is the discarding of the synergistic aspect that is most damaging both to the health outcomes, and to the ongoing education about medicine to the public at large.

      Medical science is by its nature, (with a  few exceptions) , reductionist ( and constrained within a newtonian paradigm) and therefore diametrically opposed to a proper understanding of health and medicine, which in my opinion require an holistic approach to truly further the long term health of a nation.

      As it stands, the industry of allopathic western medicine gains by its current methodology in that the overall health of the nation continues to decline under its auspices and this ensures the continued success of a business model that relies on its customers not to progressively enjoy better health, lest they no longer require its services.

      That this profession influences government policy on herb and drug laws is beyond question; as it is that the policy makers in government enjoy the complicity of the medical profession in outlawing any substance that is not under their direct control or which contests the moral stance under who’s banner they market themselves.

      Their attentions are especially drawn to the practice of imbibing any substance that heightens perception and awareness, e.g. cannabis, which encourages a style of thinking that contests their carefully orchestrated status quo, in that it increases the individuals’ propensity to free thinking and it promotes a healthy scepticism of their propaganda and a disinclination to be subservient or brainwashed. 

      Cannabis connoisseurs are few on the ground but there are enough common users, who have the experience that the effects of consuming cannabis are many and varied, to argue that the types and ingredients are rarely uniform.

      Research into the effects of the differing proportions of ingredients is in its infancy but I would suggest that its study should not be exclusively based on the reductionist method of isolating individual ingredients but rather encouraged to move in the direction of producing and protecting strains that have recognised qualities much in the way that happens with wines (produced from grape).

      This would be far more in the interests of the public health and just as importantly, of their enjoyment. However we can no doubt see why it would not appeal to the establishment.

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      Thanks for your comment.  As I said, I’m expressing an opinion and the only evidence I have is my own experience.  I know the effect that hash has on me and I recognise the same quality with high THC charas as well as Lebanese – and indeed with Sativex which is 50/50 THC/CBD

      I’m intrigued by your suggestion about CBD binding to the cannabinoid receptors though.  I understood that CBD explicitly does not bind to receptors:

      Wikipedia: “Cannabidiol has no affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors but acts as an indirect antagonist of cannabinoid agonists.”

    • William-blaze

      i totally agree with you, im only 24 and have much to lern about the politics of cannabis and hemp, but i get my cannabis (smokable) from people like your self who know what there doing and the smoke is clean and pure.
      street cannabis is impossible to grade, identify or know the levals of THC and CBD.
      just brings the point, if we were allowed to grow our own it would be much healthier. TOKE PURE. CLEAR.

    • Vic Hamilton

      Thank you Peter,very well writen and should explain even to the dumbest amongst us that CLEAR has a leader who knows what he is talking about.

    • Cshaws

      Afternoon all.  I use tincture primarily for arthritic pain but do enjoy the other benefits (especially the rejuvenated libido one – or am I imagining that?). As Peter says it doesn’t take away the pain, it changes it from an arch enemy to a slightly irritating companion. Because of prohibition I haven’t got a clue what the ‘CBD:THC:other stuff’ ratio is.  But I’m sure the days of Mary Jane’s Pick’n Mix can’t be far off and we can all find the perfect blend to suit our needs.
      Today is the day the Russians decide whether to legalise industrial hemp cultivation (they’ve seen the $$$).  If the Russians cash in the yanks won’t be far behind.  We had the space race now maybe the bush rush. And the fall out from that can only be positive (if our bloody MPs wake up of course) once the dam bursts.

    • Cshaws

      Oh and can I complain about the picture. It looks more like a dog turd than our pal.  A more flattering one please:^)

    • Mechant404

      Thanks for picking that up Peter. It should have read indirect antagonist which causes THC to be blocked by other chemicals.

      When you smoke cannabis with THC and a distinct level of CBD it changes the effect- it increases the time to peak onset; decreases peak experience and extends the duration of the high. 
      CBD on its own will not get you high. But as you and others have noted THC and CBD synergistically balanced with the correct resin terpene profile gives a particularly pleasurable effect.

      As i mentioned earlier CBD will prevent you from getting high if you take it in a large enough dose this is the reason why it has been bred out of modern smoking varieties. Also the removal of CBD allows for a much more immediate and intense experience.

      Part of the trouble is people claim to know which cannabis is high CBD by smoking it alone. Often the CBD they have detected is in fact a particular terpene profile + THC with little or no CBD at all. Almost all modern western bred plants have so little CBD it has no effect. 



    • StuK

      I agree with what you have said, however my belief is that the effects change on how the plant has been grown more than which strain of plant it is i.e. modern or land race, for example. A plant which has been chopped too early produces what i believe to be an initial THC high, which for me isn’t very enjoyable, the smell also much sweeter. This aggravates my anxiety quite severely before settling down after around half an hour at which point my anxiety is controlled, however if the same stain is grown until the end, the smell changes to a more musky smell and my anxiety is reduced immediately. From this experience (and others) my opinion is that the THC, flavonoids and terpenes combine towards the end of its life to produce the more calming effect, which is most likely CBD.

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      Have you ever seen a piece of hash that couldn’t be a turd?

      Any proposals gratefully considered.  I spent too long drooling over Google images last night anyway.

    • Mechant404

      The change you are describing is the aging of the terpenes in the resin- as the resin becomes mature it changes from clear to cloudy to amber these changes in colour are caused by polymerization of the terpenes. This not the production of CBD.

      I too like the amber heads best because of the relaxed effect.

      Early cut cannabis is well known for being unpleasant. Jack Kerouac wirtes about green weed causing Dean Moriarty
      a psychotic episode
       in On the Road.

    • http://www.facebook.com/philip.browsing Philip Ziemnicki

      Wasnt there a better looking photo? :)

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      Dear God!  Alright, alright, by popular demand I’ll go and have a look at some more photos of fine hashish!

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      I hope that everyone will be much happier with the new photos of delicious hashish!

    • Cshaws

      I remember one or two from the 70s (wasn’t lebanese gold very soft and crumbly and difficult to fashion into a turd?) I could never afford enough at once to find out. But you never get a second chance at first impressions – and we wouldn’t want casual enlightenment seekers to think we smoke/eat real shit – lol 

    • MR_Bimble

      I’ve always said – you cannot beat a nice piece of good quality hashish – lebanese, pavarti & caramello are all personal favorites of mine and beat the best weed you can buy in the UK.

      I may even have some to try in a week or two when I go to Spain to see a very good friend who has been growing some high CBD strains in his back garden.

      Perhaps the landrace seeds you can buy are a good choice for medical users after all.

    • Anonymous

      This is a very interesting discussion. 

      I’d be interested in it branching out to include the effects of sativas versus indicas and perhaps their THC/CBD ratios but still think strain discussion is more important than ingredient discussion per se.

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      As I understand it, what defines a sativa or an indica is to do with terpenoids, not cannabinoids, which just shows what a difference they make to the effect.

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      I understand that THCv is also very important in the onset of the high and its duration.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Morton/100002114691648 Tim Morton

      And the Welsh are accused of using too many words! I posted a point of fact regarding soap bars (Sopa) on the Irish site and there were lot’s more dislikes than likes?

    • http://www.facebook.com/cureuk Cure Ukay

      I interviewed CBD Science yesterday and I hope that I can shed a bit more light on the issue. CBD will work differently depending on the dose and if the receptors are coated with THC prior to ingesting the CBD you are going to experience something quite different than CBD and then THC.

      The consideration that you have to make, as an active THC user for many years, is that you will have worn down your CB1 receptors to a degree (this can be reversed and has been seen to be normal after about 30 days of disuse where you will also become alot more reactive to THC again). Because THC has been so abundant in your diet in comparison to CBD, your lack of tolerance to it can take you by surprise.

      In the case of using Sativex where the delivery is based in alcohol it speeds up the process of the impact also. Spraying on the tongue/throat is going to deliver the cannabinoids differently than spraying under the tongue because under the tongue is the same as a suppository, it bypasses the liver – this stops THC becoming 11-Hydroxy-Delta-9-THC which is between 3 and 9 times more potent than THC.

      CBD will regulate the psycho activity of THC but not reduce the effect it has biologically in regards to pain relief and anti nausea – it kind of works better, but its about finding the balance and for the individual.

      The argument is very complex and there is no one answer. CBD can give Psychoactive-like effects when taken in doses seen the same as THC content. It will induce memory extinction – not just forgetting – but can be switched back on in 5 minutes with a tiny amount of THC. No lasting damage is caused.

      A very interesting interview – may have to wait till November to see it though as I am on the home stretch.

    • Hempy

      This is why we should add some hemp bud to are high THC one as “hemp” as everyone knows is already very high in CBD and CBN.

    • Wbs86

      I started smoking in the mid 1960’swhen nearly everything came from Mexico or central America. In the early 70’s into the 80’s always smoked Thai sticks and honey oil. The oil was pretty mellow as a high with a lot of body effect, while the sticks produced a very intense laugh your ass off high. But each it’s own way created a very pleasant high. Currently I don’t smoke as I have found the highs to be rather unpleasant in today’s pot. Do any other old heads notice this?

    • http://twitter.com/qnbs qnbs7

      CBD is a stereoisomer of THC and can converted to it by a process called isomerization http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7399872.html this way DRONABINOL is produced from  “drug-free” industrial fibre hemp in Germany

    • Sam Jones

      I almost feel like standing up from my laptop and applauding. The most honest and level article on cannabis…. ever?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Ford/1450969824 Dan Ford

      I have thought of a simplified simile to explain this all to the un-initiated………..
      Think of the THC being the petrol in your engine, and the CBD being the throttle valve.
      If you have petrol (THC) and no throttle valve (CBD) the engine will rev out and produce uncontrollable maximum power (completely stoned)….. until the petrol runs out. So the CBD gives control over the whole process.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tim.granshaw Tim Granshaw

      good article, but chav rock chick? what?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000605603204 Virginia Draycott

      One would have to concur with your analysis and they really are fandabbydozey

    • http://www.facebook.com/tim.granshaw Tim Granshaw

      good article, but “chav rock chick presenter”? :S

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Moore/1294977067 Richard Moore

      Even though a maybe late comment. I think this to be an important one which also strays a bit from this point.

      I only ever smoke skunk varieties of which I know is a good smoke and suits me well. Previously smoking many different resins available in the UK, I know the discusting additives such as car tyres, PVA glue and whatever people could get there hands on has been discovered in hash. Anyone ever found a piece of carrier bag in theres? As I know I have before, as well as cotton string and other implements.

      I agree that CBD does have an affect on the skunk varieties as well as hash. Having smoked strong high in THC varienties myself in the Dam and experimenting, CBD levels affected the results of the end smoke.

      But to the point of UK hash with lovely dangerous additives in, i have only ever smoked decent quality hash in Amsterdam where it is controlled with some kind of quality, over here I think you’d be better off keeping away from hash, it’s unhealthy and dirty!!! Which only makes the point of legalising or de criminilisation a stronger one!!!

    • Robert Waite

      Give me the CBD, Please

    • Guest

      This was a thoroughly enjoyable article to read; despite stumbling upon it by chance.

      While current scientific studies have shown that CBD is a THC Antagonist, and therefore inhibits THC interacting with receptors in the brain; I am inclined to agree with you Peter that personal experience tells me that the interaction of the many different cannabinoids and terpenes/flavinoids is far more complex than these studies suggest! Therefore, I feel it is imperative to encourage more scientific study in the relationship between these many hundreds of different compounds before drawing any meaningful conclusions (this goes for the prohibitionists too!).
      I would be interested to investigate if the anecdotal evidence suggesting the presence of THCV increases the potency of THC has any scientific basis; and whether this THCV also negates the antagonistic action of CBD upon THCs’ receptor binding action.
      I think it is a potential here to discuss and study whether; rather like alcohol; a percentage strength cap should be proposed upon cannabis; specifically against the percent content of THC? I don’t know about you guys but for me and my partner there are definately some strains out there, particularly the highly selectively bred ones, that are almost/are just too strong!

      Either way, it is high time we had the adult debate about legalisation. (For me, decriminalisation is a no brainer; it should have NEVER been criminalised!)