Psychoactive relates to anything that affects the mind. People often claim that CBD is often known as non-psychoactive, meaning it is non-intoxicating because it doesn’t cause the type of cerebral high that THC causes. But Chasen claims that both CBD and THC are psychoactive because they get attached to the receptors in the brain and affect the mind.
To that end, there is some debate in the scientific community as to whether CBD is technically psychoactive. Most people associate psychoactive with the high induced from substances like THC, but CBD has properties which relieve anxiety and insomnia. CBD primarily works within the central nervous system, as well, which can be categorized as evidence towards psychoactive status.
Part of the reason for the confusion is the way in which the two cannabinoids affect the mind. THC is more direct in its approach, binding to receptors and stimulating certain responses. CBD is more subtle in its approach. It tends to soften or suppress THC’s effects and entices the body to create its own endocannabinoids to bind to receptors. CBD does bind to non-cannabinoid receptors such as serotonin, TRPV-1, and PPAR-gamma. These stimulations lead to CBD’s anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, and gene-expression effects.
New research is also leading to the conclusion that CBD may bind to the CB1 receptor in a different local in order to regulate THC’s effects as well as deliver other therapeutic effects. It is not unusual for cell membranes to have multiple receptors or for a receptor to have two distinct “docking” or binding locations. These varied locations can also influence the effect of binding.
Within the scientific community, the general consensus is that CBD is psychoactive. However, many people tend to confuse psychoactive with intoxicating. Some scientists still refer to CBD as non-psychoactive because they know that will be interpreted as non-high-inducing; others simply interpret it that way on their own. It may be splitting hairs to focus on, but CBD does affect the mind; it does not intoxicate you. THC can do both if not properly regulated by CBD or other cannabinoids.
The idea of focusing on non-psychoactive versus psychoactive can be as harmful as focusing on intoxicating versus non-intoxicating. Both views look at cannabinoids as separate ingredients instead of allowing them to function together. Most hybrid strains of cannabis do allow for this entourage effect, allowing THC, CBD, and all of their cousins to work together for our benefit.