Thinking about smoking cbd? Learn all about how to smoke cbd, along with the potential risks and benefits. Smoking CBD has its benefits! It's more affordable than other methods, smokable CBD enters your bloodstream faster, and it may help you quit tobacco.
The ins and outs of smoking CBD
You’ve likely seen cannabidiol (CBD) everywhere from drugstore gummies to boutique coffee concoctions. But there’s reason to believe smoking high-CBD flower might be one of the most effective ways to experience the potential benefits of CBD.
If you’re curious about smoking CBD flower and want to explore the pros and cons, this is the guide for you. And if you’re looking for a literal guide to smoking, we have a guide for that, too.
Many consumers typically prefer consuming or smoking CBD through a pipe, joint, or vape pen. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The difference between smoking CBD and THC
Contrary to popular belief, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD have a lot in common. They’re the most abundant cannabinoids found in cannabis plants and they both have the potential to help with anxiety. They even have the same chemical structure (the atoms are just arranged differently). The main difference between THC and CBD can be summed up in one word: intoxication.
CBD is often touted as nonpsychoactive or having no psychoactive effects, but it’s more accurately described as nonintoxicating. Why? Even though CBD won’t get you high, that subtly calm feeling you might experience after taking some CBD tincture is technically a psychoactive effect. Any substance that has a direct effect on the function of the brain is considered psychoactive. By contrast, THC can be intoxicating even at low doses.
Both THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Why this happens has to do with how THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The human endocannabinoid system consists of the cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. The body’s most studied cannabinoid receptors are the Cannabinoid-1 and Cannabinoid-2 receptors (CB1 and CB2), and they are found in the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and the immune system.
THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain to produce that classic weed high, while CBD has been shown to have the opposite interaction with CB1 receptors, acting as an antagonist. When consumed together, CBD appears to improve the therapeutic and enjoyable effects of THC by minimizing the unwanted side effects such as anxiety and a rapid heartbeat.
The bioavailability of CBD is greater through the lungs than through the gut. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Why consumption method matters
The consumption method plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. Inhalation is considered an effective delivery method for CBD because of how quickly the body absorbs it. When CBD is smoked or vaped, cannabinoids enter the lungs and then the bloodstream, circulating throughout the body from there.
While some cannabis consumers and patients prefer to take their CBD through oral administration or topical application, others have found inhalation to be the most effective way to consume. And there may be some science to support this preference.
According to Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist and scientific adviser to Weedmaps, “The bioavailability of CBD is greater through the lungs than through the gut. Specifically, about half of the CBD you inhale makes it into the blood, but only 5% of the CBD you eat gets into your blood.” A Chemistry & Biodiversity study published in 2017 confirms this, stating that while the bioavailability can vary based on how the CBD is smoked, “smoking… provides a rapid and efficient method of drug delivery from the lungs to the brain.”
As an added benefit, the effects are felt almost immediately after inhalation. The effects of edibles, on the other hand, can take up to two hours to kick in.
Smoking CBD flower is an efficient way to experience the potential benefits of CBD. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The benefits of smoking CBD
Of the emerging research into CBD’s potential medical benefits, there is concrete scientific evidence for its effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy by reducing seizures. So much so that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug to treat childhood epilepsy. But that’s the only hard scientific evidence on the cannabinoid.
Anecdotally, cannabis consumers have used CBD to alleviate depression, anxiety, insomnia, and pain. But until multiple studies confirm the anecdotal benefits of CBD and the benefits of smoking CBD specifically, that’s all they are — anecdotal.
The good news is there is a lot of clinical evidence that CBD is safe to consume, even in large quantities. A clinical trial published in CNS Drugs in 2019 showed that healthy individuals who received 1500 mg of CBD twice per day experienced very few adverse reactions and all were mild. For context, most CBD products on the market today contain 10 mg per serving.
Because CBD poses minimal risks even in large quantities, you should be able to experiment with smoking CBD flower without fear of overdoing it.
The only way to find out if CBD works for you is to try it. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The side effects of smoking CBD
Because smoking CBD involves — no shocker here — smoke inhalation, there is the risk of developing respiratory issues. Whenever you combust plant material, toxins called polyaromatic hydrocarbons form. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons exist in both tobacco and cannabis smoke and exposing yourself to those toxins is one of the risks of smoking weed.
Luckily, smoking cannabis doesn’t have the same risks as smoking cigarettes. While smoking CBD flower in excess may lead to respiratory issues (like bronchitis or, in severe cases, COPD), there has been no causal link found between smoking weed and cancer, one of the biggest risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Smoking anything, including cannabis, has potential risks.
A 2007 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal examined self-reported respiratory symptoms in participants who used cigarettes and cannabis. The study found that using a vaporizer could decrease respiratory symptoms in regular cannabis users who smoke.
In addition to possible respiratory issues caused by smoke inhalation, CBD does interact with some prescription drugs so check with your doctor before smoking it.
Hemp flower vs. high-CBD flower
While they may sound similar, the difference will largely dictate where you can buy these products — or if you can buy them at all.
Hemp flower and high-CBD flower may look the same, but they’re legally very different. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The hemp plant produces a broad range of cannabinoids, including THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid in marijuana. However, hemp does not produce enough THC to be intoxicating when consumed.
Although the hemp plant doesn’t produce a significant amount of THC, it is capable of producing the non-intoxicating and medicinally rich CBD in high concentrations. And certain strains of hemp produce flowers that look indistinguishable from the high-THC cannabis you’ll find at legal dispensaries.
Many countries differentiate hemp from marijuana by the amount of THC produced. In the US, industrial hemp is defined as a Cannabis sativa L. plant containing no more than 0.3% THC by weight. Thanks to the Farm Bill of 2018, you can legally buy hemp flower online in nearly every state.
High-CBD flower is only available for purchase in licensed dispensaries in states where it’s legal since it contains THC levels higher than the cutoff for hemp. While it contains higher levels of CBD than most cannabis flower on the legal market, it’ll typically contain significant levels of THC as well.
How does smoking CBD feel?
The experience of smoking CBD vary depending on the product and the individual who is consuming the CBD. For example, dabbing a pure CBD isolate will likely cause different effects than hitting a high-CBD vape pen that also contains some THC.
While CBD won’t get you high or intoxicated, it may provide a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being. Depending on the dose and the individual, CBD might have sleepy, relaxed, happy, or even energetic vibes. While there are no serious side effects reported with CBD, overconsumption can cause drowsiness.
In addition to feelings of relaxation, some report feeling a quick relief of swelling and pain after smoking CBD.
In addition to a feeling of relaxation, smoking CBD has been reported to provide quick relief of swelling and pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Frequently asked questions
Is smoking CBD safe?
While more research into the effectiveness of CBD consumption methods is needed, most evidence suggests that smoking CBD flower will not cause intoxication. The primary concern for users is getting unadulterated CBD and, for those who prefer smoking, the potential long-term consequences for the lungs. CBD does interact with some prescription drugs so check with your doctor before trying it.
Can you smoke CBD oil?
CBD can be infused into a variety of products, including vape juice, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. CBD tinctures are strictly for ingestion, while CBD oils are made for inhalation.
CBD vape juice, sometimes referred to as CBD vape oil, may vary in concentration depending on state-specific laws. It is legal in 30 states. Another 17 states have CBD-specific laws that enable some level of use or consumption.
CBD can be infused into a variety of products, including vape juice, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The FDA has not stepped in to regulate CBD products, but in 2018 the FDA approved the prescription use of Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD oil, for treating epilepsy.
Rick Simpson Oil, named after its Canadian developer who claims he cured his own skin cancer with a custom blend of cannabis oil, is a popular form of CBD oil that is commonly smoked.
CBD oil derived from industrial hemp plants only contains CBD, while marijuana-derived products, such as Rick Simpson Oil, have a high concentration of THC and the full range of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Does CBD kill your high?
The answer isn’t clear, but CBD has demonstrated the ability to moderate a high produced from THC by preventing the body from absorbing it. Some people say they use CBD when they get too high to reduce the effects. Evidence suggests CBD actually interferes with the activity of the CB1 receptor, especially in the presence of THC.
So, when THC and CBD work together to affect CB1 receptor activity, users tend to feel a more mellow high and are said to have a reduced chance of experiencing paranoia compared with the effects felt when CBD is absent in a product. This synergistic relationship is often referred to as the “entourage effect,” which explains why certain combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes seem to enhance the benefits of cannabis.
The 5 Benefits of Smoking CBD Flower
You may be familiar with CBD’s benefits; it’s the second most popular cannabinoid behind THC and touted by some companies as having explicit medicinal benefits (a big no-no according to the FDA.) We’re not going to make any medical claims about CBD in this post.
Instead, we’re going to talk about the benefits of smoking CBD flower, one of the most popular ways that people enjoy their daily dose of CBD.
In this post, we’ll also be covering:
- The difference between CBD flower and marijuana,
- What smoking CBD feels like,
- And, the risks associated with smoking CBD.
Can You Smoke CBD?
One of the most common questions we get from first-time customers: can you smoke CBD flower … like the “other stuff?”
The short answer is yes, you can.
In fact, you can even buy smokable hemp online and have it shipped directly to your door. Isn’t the internet great?
The 5 Benefits of Smoking CBD Flower
1. Smoking CBD Increases Its Bioavailability
Bioavailabilty – “The ability of a drug or other substance to be absorbed and used by the body.”
Smoking CBD flower increases CBD’s bioavailability. According to a 2017 Chemistry & Biodiversity study , about 50% of the CBD you smoke makes it into your bloodstream, as opposed to only 5% of the CBD you eat.
Why? Edible CBD doesn’t absorb into your bloodstream via your digestive tract as readily as vaporized CBD does when it comes in contact with your lung tissue.
2. Smoking CBD Works Faster Than Other Methods
One of the more noticeable benefits of smoking CBD is the speed at which it enters your bloodstream. When you inhale vaporized CBD, it comes in contact with your lung tissue almost immediately.
Some studies suggest that after smoking CBD, concentrations in your bloodstream will reach their peak in just three minutes. That’s opposed to two or three hours when eaten .
Because smoking CBD is the fastest way to ingest and metabolize CBD, it would make sense that your body will process and dispose of CBD faster when you smoke it than compared to other ingestion methods. In other words, smokable CBD will leave your system faster .
3. Smoking CBD Is More Affordable Than Other Methods
Because CBD flower requires relatively little processing as compared to edibles, oils, and topicals, one of the biggest benefits of smoking CBD is the price tag.
If you want to get the most milligrams of CBD for your dollar, look no further than hemp flower. Most hemp farms will carry CBD flower as it requires almost no specialized equipment to produce, it’s easy to store , and it’s easy to ship.
4. Full-Spectrum Benefits From Smoking CBD Flower
You may notice that some CBD products are labeled “full-spectrum” or “broad-spectrum.” Those labels indicate whether or not that product contains cannabinoids other than CBD.
Full-spectrum refers to CBD products that still contain trace amounts of THC in them.
Broad-spectrum refers to CBD products that have had its trace amounts of THC removed. Broad-spectrum CBD products may or may not contain the other 100+ native cannabinoids native to the hemp plant.
When you smoke CBD flower, you’re consuming full-spectrum CBD. Many believe that this is the best way to consume CBD as it provides the users with the entourage effect— aptly named for the effect produced when all cannabinoids work together to provide feelings of calm and relief.
5. The Relaxation of Smokable Cannabis Without The “High”
Smoking CBD flower will not make you feel “high.”
THC is a cannabinoid produced in high concentrations by some cannabis plants (classified as marijuana.) It’s responsible for the psychoactive high that users feel from recreational and medicinal marijuana.
Note: All of that said, there are some “CBD” flowers on the market today that have compliant levels of delta-9 THC and high levels of THCa, the precursor to delta-9. When smoked, THCa converts into delta-9 THC. This type of hemp flower exploits a loophole in the system and will make you feel intoxicated. If you’re looking for a CBD flower that will not get you high , make sure to look at the flower’s certificate of analysis. This third-party lab document should tell you the total THC and total CBD present in your flower. Be sure to pick a strain with relatively low total THC concentrations.
Honorable Mention: Smoking CBD Can Help Some Quit Tobacco
This benefit of smoking CBD didn’t make it into our list of five because it’s not a universally shared benefit, though it still deserves some attention.
If you’re ready to quit cigarettes, but don’t want to do so cold turkey, smoking CBD might be the answer. Some studies have concluded that CBD may ease the anxiety common in folks quitting tobacco and help curb cravings.
Is Smoking CBD Addictive?
Smoking CBD is not addictive that we know of. Cannabis science is still relatively young and there is still much to learn, but as of right now we don’t believe that smoking CBD will cause any dependencies.
What’s the Difference Between CBD Flower and Marijuana?
CBD hemp flower and THC marijuana look, smell, taste, and smoke similarly. There’s a reason for that. High-yielding THC marijuana strains were used and bred to create many of the CBD flower strains that we know and love today.
But, and this is a very important distinction, to be classified as industrial hemp and compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD flower must contain no more than a 0.3% concentration of delta-9 THC by dry weight. Most CBD flower you’ll find on the market today contains less than 1% of total THC.
Because of its higher THC concentration, smoking marijuana will make you feel intoxicated. As we’ve mentioned, one of the benefits of smoking CBD is that you will not feel the “high,” but will reap the benefits of consuming full-spectrum cannabis.
What Does Smoking CBD Feel Like?
Smoking CBD will feel different for everyone based on a number of factors:
- Context – are you smoking for a specific reason?
- How much you’ve smoked
- How long have you been smoking CBD – have you built up a tolerance?
Many users report feelings like a deep sense of calm, focus, sociability, and some sleep benefits after smoking CBD.
Smoking higher doses of CBD may make you feel more tired than anything, and if you’ve been smoking for a long time, you may need higher doses to maintain the same benefits.
How Do You Smoke CBD?
There are several ways to smoke CBD, some methods are more convenient than others.
- Pre-rolls – Great for the on-the-go and social smokers who like to share with friends.
- CBD Cigarettes – A nice substitute for smokers trying to ween themselves from tobacco.
- Flower – If you have a pipe at home, CBD flower is a great option.
Does Smoking CBD Have Any Side Effects?
Smoking anything involves risks. When you smoke dried plant material, tars and carcinogens will inevitably make contact with your throat and lungs.
Smoking CBD flower does not present the same risks as smoking cigarettes does. While smoking excessive amounts of CBD flower may cause some respiratory issues, it’s not made with excessive cancer-causing chemical additives that cigarette tobacco is.
Smoking CBD can also interact with some prescription drugs, so please do check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying CBD.