woman holding joint

Non-Intoxicating vs Non-Psychoactive

What’s the difference?

At Fairwinds, we believe that transparency and honesty are critical when it comes to choosing the right CBD brand and products, whether you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one – and we will always do our best to provide you with the most accurate and truthful information possible. Because of this, we feel it’s important to shed light on wording that may be misused by some and open up a conversation about why using the most accurate language matters.

Let’s start with one of the biggest misnomers in the entire realm of CBD: non-psychoactive. Many brands claim that their CBD products are completely non-psychoactive; however, since CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the brain as well as throughout the body’s other organs and pathways, this is actually a misleading statement. It’s far more accurate to refer to CBD as non-intoxicating instead. But what does that really mean?

Why wordage matters

There is a difference between “non-psychoactive” and “non-intoxicating”; they’re similar, but they aren’t quite interchangeable. The term non-psychoactive refers to a substance or product that does not produce any effect (such as any changes in perception, mood, behavior, etc) on the brain or mental processes. Non-intoxicating, on the other hand, refers to something unlikely or unable to cause any feelings of drunkenness, lack of control, or impairment.

CBD is one of these things, but not both. For many who use it, CBD can produce an overall sense of well-being, a boost in mood, provide assistance with stress relief and sleep, and/or reduce anxiousness. These effects are related to brain activity, and as such are technically psychoactive responses. While it may feel unnecessarily picky to want more distinction between these terms, using the right nomenclature and descriptions is actually a critical piece of furthering people’s understanding of cannabis/hemp, cannabinoids, and their complexities. CBD is psychoactive, but non-intoxicating, while THC is both. The distinction between the two is important; it helps make apparent that psychoactive isn’t a scary or bad term, nor one that necessarily equates to intoxicating or “high”-inducing.

What caused the divide in terminology?

The use of the term non-psychoactive became prevalent because many people who use CBD are not at all interested in the sensation of being high; as THC was already well-known for being psychoactive and high-inducing, it may have been simpler to just refer to CBD as the exact opposite – “non-psychoactive”. This terminology became standard, and despite not being fully accurate, it has become widely used and accepted. But does the terminology really matter? To us, it’s crucial!

Shifting the stigmas associated with the use of cannabis and its derivative compounds is one of our biggest goals at Fairwinds. It’s a simple truth that the way people talk about things shapes the way those things are viewed. Cannabis/hemp and cannabinoids are no exception; accurate representation and language matter here as much as anywhere. And in all honesty, accepting the status quo just because it’s what is common has never been Fairwinds’ style. Pushing for progress is part of our core identity! We are proud to provide true information with as much scientific knowledge and accuracy as possible – our dedication to representing the full capabilities of CBD, cannabis, and herbal medicine means that we will never misrepresent something for the sake of profit. Whatever the effect you’re seeking with your personal CBD use is, we’re happy to be an honest, reliable source that people can count on. Thanks for reading!

*These statements have not been approved by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.