13 CBD Facts & Common Misconceptions

Illustration of a scientist and hemp leaf
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: March 2, 2022

With the peaking popularity of CBD as a potential therapeutic compound, there’s also a sea of misconceptions about this cannabinoid. You know how it is, people like to spread myths about different things and CBD is no exception. Read on to protect yourself against common misinformation.

The past year was a great milestone in the research on Cannabidiol. It doesn’t get you high, and yet, you can still experience a whole myriad of benefits that cannabis has to offer. Given this, we can fully understand the buzz among medical scientists and patients that CBD has created recently.

Numerous commercial companies and online retailers have hopped on the CBD bandwagon, claiming that hemp-derived CBD is the next big discovery, a versatile substance that can put an end to seizures, relieve chronic pain, reduce inflammation, and shrink tumor cells – without making users feel “stoned”.

However, the growing popularity of CBD has given rise to a whole litany of misconceptions about this cannabinoid. You already know that CBD is not a miracle cure, and you cannot use it as a quick fix to deal with literally any health issues.

But hey, some people really like to make stories up. Let’s debunk the top 13 misconceptions about CBD.

Top 13 CBD Myth & Misconceptions

Fasten your seatbelts and prepare yourself for a true myth ride.

Off we go!

1. CBD Is Medical, THC Is Recreational

How many times have you heard people saying that they are searching for “CBD, the medical compound”, “not THC, the recreational one?” We cannot even count how many times our readers ask us about this on a daily basis.

As much as we admit that THC is still considered the recreational cannabinoid, due to the psychoactive high it produces, we cannot agree that it’s void of medical properties.

In fact, the long-stigmatized THC comes with amazing therapeutic qualities. According to scientists at the Scripps Research Center in San Diego, THC blocks an enzyme associated with the formation of 2-amyloid plaque, the main cause of Alzheimer’s-related dementia [1].

Interestingly, the whole cannabis plant, which is a natural source of THC, continues to stay in the Schedule I drug classification. On the other hand, the same federal government that has demonized cannabis for such a long time seems to have nothing against recognizing single-molecule THC (used in Marinol, an anti-nausea drug) as a Schedule III pharmaceutical, a category reserved exclusively for substances with little abuse potential – it’s a bit hypocritical if you ask us.

2. THC Is the Bad Cannabinoid. CBD Is the Good Cannabinoid

This is an absolute winner on the list! Every drug fear-mongering looks like this: give credit to CBD and, at the same time, continue to stigmatize THC.

Some prohibition crusaders are sharing the good news about CBD to run even further with their holy insignia against high-THC cannabis, giving tetrahydrocannabinol as much of a bad reputation as they can.

Why is that?

We guess that it’s because CBD doesn’t make you feel high like THC does. We strongly stand against this reefer-madness classification between good and bad cannabinoids. Instead, we believe in whole-plant medicine, a concept popularized by Dr. Ethan Russo [2].

If you want to see the health benefits of cannabidiol in the big picture, we encourage you to embrace the power of the synergy achieved by all active compounds in the herb.

3. CBD Is Most Effective Without THC

Once again, we get back to Dr. Russo and the concept of the entourage effect. Numerous studies have shown that CBD and THC work best together. These two cannabinoids interact synergistically to boost the healing effects of one another.

British researchers have found that CBD strengthens THC’s anti-inflammatory properties in the animal model of colitis. Further, scientists from the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco discovered that a mix of CBD and THC produces a stronger anti-cancer effect than either compound; the study was conducted on brain and breast cancer cell families [3].

And complex clinical research has demonstrated that whole-plant extracts are more beneficial for neuropathic pain than isolated compounds.

4. Single-Molecule Pharmaceuticals Are Superior to ‘Crude’ Whole Plant Medicinals

Let’s break the federal government’s logic into bits and pieces. What Uncle Sam wants us to believe is that single-molecule drugs are more effective than whole-plant medicine. In other words, specific compounds of the marijuana plant (CBD, THC) have medicinal value, but the plant itself has no benefits at all, not to mention that it has a strong potential for abuse.

Wow, that sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?

Let’s make it clear, the single-molecule favoritism reflects a cultural and political bias that benefits pharmaceutical corporations. It’s the legal way, FDA approved way, but it is, by no means, the only way to benefit from cannabis – and definitely not the best way.

There are hundreds of active compounds in cannabis, including a whole palette of minor cannabinoids in addition to CBD and THC, aromatic terpenes, and various flavonoids. Each of these constituents comes with specific therapeutic qualities, but when consumed as a whole, they create what scientists and cannabis breeders refer to as the “ensemble effect” or the aforementioned “entourage effect.” [4].

The Food and Drug Administration, however, still labels plants as “food supplements.”

5. CBD Is Not Psychoactive

While it’s true that CBD is not an intoxicant, it’s misleading to define CBD as a non-psychoactive compound. When a patient with clinical depression takes a low dose of a CBD-rich sublingual tincture and the compound makes them feel even slightly better for the first time in a long time, it’s a textbook example of mood alteration. By its definition, the word ‘psychoactive’ means ‘acting on the mind’ and CBD fits into this definition like a glove.

That being said, it’s much better to say “CBD is not psychoactive like THC” or “CBD is not intoxicating, contrary to THC,” than to simply claim that it’s not psychoactive at all.

Don’t get us wrong, there is no chance that CBD will make you feel stoned. Instead, it can impact a person’s mind in many positive ways. Low-to-moderate doses of Cannabidiol are mildly stimulating. High doses of CBD, in turn, can serve as a decent sleep aid.

6. Psychoactivity Is Inherently An Adverse Side Effect

The whole machine behind the War on Drugs has made marijuana high an undesired side effect, and the federal government has used this common misconception as their main propaganda tool to discourage people from using the herb.

At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are allowed to synthesize medically active marijuana, it hasn’t been explained why mild euphoric sensations are basically wrong for a sick person or a healthy person.

It seems strange, to say the least, as in Greek, the word euphoria means “being in good health”, a state of complete well-being. The long-stigmatized euphoric features of cannabis are a far cry from being an undesired side effect. In fact, they are implicated in the medicinal value of the herb.

So, maybe it’s time to start thinking of cannabis as a medicine first, one that happens to have some psychoactive qualities (as if no medicine has ever had psychoactive effects), instead of perceiving it as an intoxicant that happens to have some medicinal benefits.

7. High Doses of CBD Work Better Than Low Doses

Yes, CBD isolates contain more CBD than whole plant CBD-rich extracts. But that doesn’t mean that isolated molecules are more effective. As a matter of fact, CBD isolates require higher doses to take effect than whole-plant products.

According to clinicians and patients, full-spectrum CBD extracts have a wider therapeutic window than isolates. A synergistic combination of THC, CBD, other cannabinoids, and terpenes, can be effective at low doses – as little as 2.5mg THC and/or 2.5mg of CBD.

Some patients may require significantly higher amounts of those compounds to get the desired effects, but the increased influx of isolated CBD won’t solve the issue. Also, remember that both CBD and THC – and cannabis in general – have biphasic properties; in other words, low and high doses can induce the opposite effect. A high dose of CBD could be less effective than low-to-moderate doses when it comes to providing therapeutic effects.

8. CBD Converts to THC In a Person’s Stomach

CBD has been acknowledged as a safe substance that is well-tolerated in humans. However, people who are skeptical about cannabis, in general, are concerned about the potential side effects, which might impact CBD’s medical utility negatively.

One of such misconceptions that lead to those concerns is a theory that CBD converts to the intoxicating THC in the stomach. Fortunately, there is sound evidence that this assumption is entirely wrong.

Extensive clinical trials have demonstrated that extremely high doses of CBD – like 600 mg of the cannabinoid – do not cause toxicity or THC-like psychoactive effects. In fact, it has turned out that CBD can neutralize the high from THC [5].

If you’re still not convinced whether we’re right or not, maybe 2017 WHO report will make you change your mind:

As WHO states:

“Stimulated gastric fluid does not exactly replicate physiological conditions in the stomach [and] spontaneous conversation of CBD to delta-9-THC has not been demonstrated in humans undergoing treatment.” [6]

9. Legalizing CBD, But Not Cannabis, Adequately Serves Patient Population

Of all 50 states, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana (not just CBD) in various forms. Only nineteen U.S. states have enforced “CBD Only” laws. While we’re not going to deny that CBD has a huge therapeutic potential, some patients cannot fully benefit from CBD-rich remedies with little THC.

For example, parents of epileptic children have found that combining CBD extracts with THC or its raw, unheated version (THCA) is more effective for seizure control than CBD oil alone. Keep in mind that specific cannabis compounds are no one-fits-all solutions, and as such, some people need access to a broader spectrum of whole plant cannabis medicine, not just CBD-only remedies.

10. Marijuana Prohibition Doesn’t Apply to CBD. CBD Is Federally Legal If It Comes From the Seed Or Stalk of Hemp

Yet another big no-no! The only parts of the hemp plant from which CBD can be extracted are flower tops and leaves.

This misconception is commonly used by companies who want to look legitimate in the light of the contradictory U.S. laws, and if they claim that their oil is derived from hemp seed, they instantly lose credibility.

Even though Congress may soon vote to exclude hemp and CBD from the definition of “marihuana” under the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis still remains the law of the land according to the federal government.

We cannot interpret the Controlled Substances Act according to our outlook on the world. The current law, as unjust as it is, must be obeyed until the document is finally abolished.

11. CBD Is CBD – It Doesn’t Matter Where It Comes From

Actually, it does matter. While some low-resin industrial hemp crops may be a reasonable source of CBD, fiber hemp has a poor cannabinoid profile.

The largest concentration of CBD can be found in CBD-rich cannabis flower tops. Yes, specifically bred marijuana strains are currently the best source of Cannabidiol.

All products made from “entirely legal industrial hemp” require huge amounts of sourcing material to extract a small amount of CBD. This, in turn, can result in an increased risk of contaminants because hemp absorbs toxins from the soil.

On top of that, CBD extracted from industrial hemp or synthesized in a lab lacks essential therapeutic terpenes and other plant compounds that produce the synergy with CBD and THC to boost their healing properties.

Thankfully, as more research is being conducted on cannabinoids and their source, plant breeders are now aiming at satisfying the legal criteria for industrial hemp – which is less than 0.3% THC and more than 10% CBD by dry weight – while developing high-resin varieties from certain marijuana strains.

12. CBD Is Sedating

Cannabidiol can be sedative, but it doesn’t mean this quality shows up every time you consume CBD oil. It is best to know the different times of the day to take CBD by understanding the effects it can do in the morning and the evening.

Like we said, CBD has biphasic effects; simply put, when administered in low doses, earlier during the day, CBD can promote wakefulness and reduce daytime sleepiness. However, high doses of the cannabinoid before bedtime can have sedating effects, and as such, they can contribute to a good night’s sleep.

13. CBD Acts on the Cannabinoid Receptors

CBD has a long list of neurological effects, but they are not a result of Cannabidiol’s interaction with two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2.

While all other cannabinoids interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD has very little effect on both. Instead, CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system to create more of its natural cannabinoids. It also slows their breakdown, thanks to which they can remain in your body for longer.

On top of that, CBD acts on over 60 molecular pathways, including the serotonin receptors, vanilloid receptors, orphan receptors, and nuclear receptors, which is why it can affect a person cognition, mood, appetite, pain perception, temperature control, immune responses, and cancer cells regression.

Don’t Spread Myths, Spread the Truth

As you can see, the list of common misconceptions about CBD is pretty long. Despite the increasing awareness of CBD as a therapeutic compound, the amount of misinformation on the Internet and in real life is disturbing, to say the least. Whether it’s caused by pure ignorance or intent attempts at stigmatizing cannabis – we don’t know. Maybe it’s both. But we won’t stop the misconceptions from spreading until we start work at the grassroots. Now that you‘re familiar with the myths about CBD, don’t be afraid to publicly debunk them – even if you meet with negative reactions at first. Keep in mind that such reactions are most often caused by fear resulting from the lack of knowledge and years of being fed with propaganda against cannabis.


  1. Currais et al. Amyloid Proteotoxicity Initiates An Inflammatory Response Blocked By Cannabinoids. NPJ Aging and Mechanism of Disease 2, Article number: 16012. Published in June 2016.
  2. Russo, Ethan B. “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-Terpenoid Entourage Effects.” British Journal of Pharmacology 163.7 (2011): 1344–1364. PMC. Web. 17 Sept. 2018.
  3. McAllister SD, Christian RT, Horowitz MP, Garcia A, Desprez PY. Cannabidiol As a Novel Inhibitor of ld-1 Gene Expression In Aggressive Breast Cancer Cells. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics (2007):2921-7. Published in print, November 2007.
  4. Blasco-Benito S. et al. Appraising the “Entourage Effect”: Antitumor Action of a Pure Cannabinoid Versus a Botanical Drug Preparation In Preclinical Models of Breast Cancer. Biochemical Pharmacology (2018). pii: S0006-2952(18)30238-7. Published in June 2018.
  5. Bergamaschi MM, Costa Queiroz RG, Crippa JA, Zuardi AW. Safety And Side Effects of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis Sativa Constituent. Department of Toxicological and Food Sciences Analysis, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirdo Preto, University of Sao Paulo (2011), Current Drug Safety, 6, 000-000.
  6. World Health Organization. Cannabidiol (CBD): Critical Review Report. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, Fortieth Meeting, June 2018.

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.

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