Every Question You Have About CBD—Answered

Does CBD get you high? What are the actual benefits? Will it show up on a drug test? Here’s everything you need to know about the product that’s suddenly everywhere

There’s no question that CBD is the newest wellness product of the moment. CBD has gone from being sort of around to absolutely everywhere all at once. Everyone from your anxious coworker to your arthritis-suffering dad wants to get their hands on some CBD.

But even though it’s infiltrating pretty much every corner of the wellness world, many people still find CBD a little confusing. Below, we asked experts to answer the most pressing questions about CBD.

OK, first things first. What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound from the cannabis plant. It’s a naturally occurring substance that’s used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it’s not psychoactive.

Is CBD legal?

In 2018 a new Farm Bill was passed that made it federally legal to grow hemp.

What’s that Mean ? it means that “consumers everywhere, if they’re compliant with their state, can grow hemp and use hemp products,” Parrish explains, “and among those will be CBD.”

In other words, the latest bill removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA’s, purview. “Hemp can now be grown freely under federal law, which, of course, is huge,” Parrish says. “But while it’s legal under federal law, it’s up to each state to set their own policy.”

CBD is illegal in Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

So you’re saying CBD won’t get me high?

Nope. The cannabis plant is made up of two main players: CBD and THC. “CBD is the non-psychoactive portion of the plant, so what that means is you won’t have the effects of being high on marajuana ,” says Junella Chin, DO, an osteopathic physician and a medical cannabis expert for cannabisMD. You never know how your body will react to any new supplement, so when taking CBD for the first time, do so safely, by starting with smaller doses.

Will CBD show up on a drug test?

It should not, as long as you’re buying third-party tested CBD with no added THC, says Dr. Chin. But she does point out that athletes, who often are required to take drug tests that are more sensitive, “could potentially test positive” for trace amounts of THC if they’ve been using CBD products.

Can you travel with CBD?

That same 2018 Farm Bill means you can now travel between states with legit CBD products. “Flying with CBD should pose no issues now,” Parrish says. However, if you’re traveling with a tincture, be mindful of TSA limits on how much liquid you can carry on an airplane, she adds. (You can also mail CBD products, just like “companies that comply with the Bill can ship their hemp-derived CBD products anywhere in the U.S.,” Parrish notes.

Can I give it to my dog?

Yes! CBD provides pets with the same pain relief and relaxation benefits that it does for humans. It is a fantastic pain killer, anti-inflammatory, and anticonvulsant, which can help mitigate seizures, tremors, tics, and much more. 

“Generally we expect CBD products to be safe, and they could show some benefit for anxiety in pets,” says John Faught, DVM, a veterinarian based in Austin, Texas. Yes! CBD provides pets with the same pain relief and relaxation benefits that it does for humans. It is a fantastic pain killer, anti-inflammatory, and anticonvulsant, which can help mitigate seizures, tremors, tics, and much more. 

The challenge when considering CBD products for pets is making sure your pet is given the right dosage for his or her weight. Always read the back label for dosage recommendations. When in doubt start small and gradually increase doses if needed.

I’ve heard of edibles, tinctures, vape pens… What’s the best way to take CBD?

It really depends on what your goal is and why you’re taking CBD in the first place.

Some people don’t want to ingest anything and therefore prefer a topical CBD cream or ointment. “You can apply it to muscles, joints, and ligaments and still get a nice, localized release,” Dr. Chin says.

The biggest differences between tinctures, edibles, and vape pens are speed of delivery and how long the effects last. Vape relief is faster but wears off faster too—usually in about two hours, says Dr. Chin. 

Tinctures and edibles take longer to work but last four or five hours. “A tincture looks like a little liquid that you put under your tongue, and you feel relief within half an hour,” Dr. Chin says. “If you prefer to taste something, you choose an edible, whether it’s a pill capsule, gummy, or baked goods.”

What should I look for when shopping for CBD products?

  • What does the label look like? We don’t mean the color or millennial font. If it’s a dietary supplement, it should have a back panel with an FDA disclaimer and warning section, according to Beatty. “Ideally, it would be preferable to have access to their third-party lab testing results too.”
  • Has it been third-party tested? Nearly every expert Healthspoke to agreed that your CBD products should be tested by a third party to confirm the label’s accuracy. Look for a quality assurance stamp or certificate of analysis from a third party
  • What’s the dosing? This is a confusing one for many people. “A lot of brands don’t do a good job of clearly instructing their consumer on the dosing,” says Chris Roth, CEO and co-founder of Highline Wellness. When thinking about dosing, also consider whether your CBD is full-spectrum or isolate: Full-spectrum could include other cannabinoids like cannabidivarin or cannabigerol (this is important, since “there’s something called the ‘entourage effect’ when all together, they’re more effective than any one of them alone,” Roth explains), while isolate is 100% CBD. “Some people might only need 10 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD, but with isolate, even taking 80 or 100 milligrams might not have the same effect,” he says.
  • Does it claim to cure any diseases? If so, hard pass. “You should avoid any company that makes disease claims,” says Beatty. “If so, it means they’re either willing to break the rules or they’re not aware of the rules.”
  • Is there a batch number? You know how you check your raw chicken or bagged lettuce every time there’s a recall to make sure the one you bought isn’t going to make you sick? You should be able to do that with CBD products too. “This is a huge indicator as to whether they are following good manufacturing practices,” says Beatty. “There should be a way to identify this product in case it was improperly made so the company can carry out a recall.”