CBD Facts: The Real Truth About CBD Oil and It’s Complicated

CBD Facts: The Real Truth About CBD Oil and It’s Complicated

There’s a lot of misconceptions out there about CBD facts, but what’s the real truth? Read on to find out why the truth about CBD oil is so complicated.

It seems like everywhere you turn, someone’s talking about cannabidiol (CBD). It’s a hot topic among local and national news outlets. Professional athletes talk about and endorse CBD products left and right, and one in seven people in the United States use CBD for one reason or another. You’ve probably had conversations about it with friends and family. But when it comes to CBD facts, it’s complicated.

All this discussion about CBD oil facts is a good thing. New evidence for CBD’s use comes to light frequently, and there’s great interest among scientists and doctors. And there are dozens of clinical studies in progress.

But confusion about CBD oil facts, origins, legal status, uses, properties, and applications is rampant. So here are some questions you’ve probably heard or asked yourself:


  1. “Does CBD come from marijuana?”
  2. “Does CBD oil get you high?”
  3. “Is CBD oil legal?”
  4. “Does CBD oil have THC in it?”
  5. “How do you find the best CBD oil?”
  6. “Will CBD oil help with (fill in the blank)?”


Let’s answer them one at a time, so you know the difference between CBD facts and myths.

 A cannabis plant sits against a plain background with CBD in the foreground 

1. Where Does CBD Come From?

Getting the truth about CBD oil starts with understanding its origins.

CBD is a chemical compound produced by plants from the Cannabis genus. It’s typically extracted from the species Cannabis sativa L. Pretty simple, right?

Don’t worry. It’s about to get a little more complicated.

Hemp vs. Marijuana

There are two major strains of Cannabis sativahemp and marijuana.

Sometimes, people make a mistake in saying that the CBD products you’ll typically find online and in stores derive from marijuana. But that’s rarely the case since marijuana is still considered an illegal substance under U.S. federal law.

Instead, the CBD tinctures, topicals, gummies, sleep aids, and capsules available for sale usually contain extracts from hemp – a strain that contains negligible amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

THC is the chemical responsible for the intoxicating effects of marijuana.

Hemp is a strain of cannabis that’s federally legal in the U.S. when it contains no more than 0.3 percent THC.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD is just one of the many cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant, but unlike THC, CBD won’t get you high. Once CBD is suspended in a carrier oil, your body can better incorporate CBD.

There are multiple benefits of CBD oil and a number of reasons to use it, such as promoting a sense of calm and relaxation or soothing your muscles after an intense workout.

The CBD Facts: Most CBD in the United States derives from federally legal hemp plants – not marijuana.


A cannabis plant with moisture dripping from it


2. Does CBD Oil Get You High?

In short, no.

CBD does not get you high. Thanks to its lack of THC content, there is no intoxication from using hemp-based CBD products. But, this question can also be a little tricky. Journalists and researchers commonly refer to CBD as non-psychoactive. But what is the truth about CBD oil and psychoactivity?

What Does CBD Oil Do?

CBD oil interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your endocannabinoid system (ECS) to transmit signals throughout your cells. It’s this communication that allows CBD to help your body maintain homeostasis.

By promoting balance in the body, CBD helps to improve your mood, reduce minor discomforts, and so much more.

What Does “Psychoactive” Mean?

The standard definition of “psychoactive” describes substances that affect the mind or behavior. By this view – and in the eyes of researchers – caffeine is psychoactive.

But caffeine doesn’t cause intoxication, does it? This indicates that the words “psychoactive” and “intoxicating” do not mean the same thing.

When journalists and researchers describe CBD as non-psychoactive, they probably mean that it’s non-intoxicating. By contrast, the high levels of THC found in marijuana make it both psychoactive and intoxicating. But CBD with low levels of THC allows for the many properties of the cannabis plant, minus the high.

The CBD Facts: THC-free* CBD is considered non-psychoactive and does not cause intoxication, meaning you can use it in various aspects of your daily life.


A gavel sits atop the striker with a cannabis leaf atop it


3. Is CBD Legal in the United States?

Yes. And no.

Sort of.

Confused? So are a lot of people – including some law enforcement agencies. That’s because laws in the United States have so many layers.

Federal vs. State Cannabis Laws

Let’s start with U.S. federal law. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the cultivation and processing of hemp became legal. Therefore, it is legal to extract CBD from hemp and introduce it into interstate commerce.

But state laws do not always mirror federal law. For instance, many states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational use. But marijuana is still illegal under U.S. law.

So is CBD Oil Legal or Not?

Although it’s lawful for sale and use under federal regulations, state laws on CBD and cannabis vary. To make matters more confusing, local governments often pass their own ordinances. When state law is unclear, local agencies have to make a judgment call. A good place to start is our state-by-state guide of CBD laws.

The CBD Facts: Federal law states that it is legal to farm, process, sell, purchase, own, use, and ship hemp and hemp-based products in the United States. Some state and local laws place restrictions on hemp.


A cannabis plant sits with two bottles nearby and thc and cbd written across the image


4. Is There THC in CBD Oil?

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

It’s important to understand that there are a few different methods for extracting CBD and other cannabinoids from hemp – each resulting in different formulas. These are known in the industry as:

  • Full spectrum
  • Broad spectrum
  • Isolate

The level of THC depends on which formula the company uses in its products. Let’s look at each in turn.

Full Spectrum CBD Extraction

Full spectrum extraction pulls out the whole range of useful substances from hemp alongside the CBD. These substances include flavonoids, essential oils, terpenes, and other cannabinoids, including small amounts of THC.

To be clear, federally legal THC levels are not enough to cause intoxication. But even small amounts of THC can trigger a positive drug test for marijuana. And some other cannabinoids may produce false positives for THC in certain tests.

Broad Spectrum CBD Extraction

Broad spectrum extraction removes THC to undetectable levels, effectively rendering the CBD formula THC-free.* These products will still feature other plant compounds and cannabinoids, giving them a “broad” but not “full” profile of hemp components.

cbdMD’s Superior Broad Spectrum formula is a version of this, involving the cannabinoids cannabinol and cannabigerol, along with select terpenes.

CBD Isolate Extraction

Another CBD product type – commonly described as CBD isolate – removes all other substances before infusing the pure, isolated CBD into an oil or similar. In other words, isolated formulas are the purest form of CBD available. Some people like this form, but many prefer the synergy of the hemp ingredients working together.

The CBD Facts: Some products contain THC, but legal limits on the substance prevent intoxication. Even so, they can cause positive drug tests. Others have undetectable levels of THC.


Two glass bottles of cbd oil with the sun shining through it


5. How Do You Choose the Best CBD Oil?

In order to get the truth about CBD oil, it’s crucial to understand that there’s little standardization in place for the extraction and formulation of CBD products. To make matters more difficult for consumers, there are bad actors in the CBD industry who create products that can mislead or endanger unaware CBD users.

Here are some things to look for that signal good CBD quality:


  • Was the product tested by a third party?
  • Does the company have good manufacturing practices?
  • Do they provide independent CBD oil reviews?


CBD Lab Testing

One of the best ways to evaluate a CBD provider is to ask for a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) from a third-party laboratory. In this document, you’ll discover any contaminants and THC levels. If a CBD company doesn’t provide a CoA, you cannot trust the safety of its products.

Good Manufacturing Practices

Another way consumers can distinguish properly manufactured products from poor quality is to look for independent verification of good manufacturing practices (GMP). For instance, cbdMD’s facilities earned GMP registration for dietary supplements through NSF International.

Independent CBD Oil Reviews

One consequence of CBD’s elevated profile is that lots of independent sites have sprung up evaluating different CBD brands and warning consumers away from scams. Just be sure that the site itself isn’t an “advertorial” masquerading as a review piece. For more information, check out our post, How to Spot Fake CBD Oil and Protect Yourself From Scammers.

The CBD Facts: There are reports of poorly made, mislabeled, and contaminated CBD products on the market. Do thorough research and choose your CBD wisely.


6. Can I Take CBD For...?

Hold your horses there, cowpoke.

There's a good reason for all the excitement around the potential of CBD. Early, preclinical studies show encouraging results. And there’s no shortage of personal success stories and anecdotal evidence about the applications of CBD for wellness. But be careful about claims that it can treat any specific disease.

CBD Research is Early

While that information shows promise, it’s also important to note that unbiased, clinical, peer-reviewed research on the facts about CBD oil is in the early stages. Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug used to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, is the only FDA-approved use for CBD at present.

Beware: Don’t Believe All CBD Claims

The way hemp companies market their products can obscure the truth about CBD oil. Even though CBD and other hemp extracts are legal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not allow CBD sellers and product makers to make drug claims about CBD oil.

Keep that in mind when you’re shopping for CBD oil.

After all, if a company openly disregards the law by making drug claims, what other illegal or unethical things might they do behind the scenes?

The CBD Facts: Clinical studies on CBD’s effects and applications are in the early stages. Companies marketing their CBD products as solutions for specific needs are doing so unlawfully. It’s best to use CBD as a tool to support overall wellness.


Several cbd products from cbdmd sit in a line on a counter


Arm Yourself with Information

With all the noise in the media surrounding the facts about CBD oil, it’s difficult to get the truth about CBD oil. But, don’t despair; you’re not alone. Even the lab coats get it wrong sometimes.

Here are a few articles that can help you make better choices about which CBD product is right for you and how to buy them at the best possible prices.



  • CBD Buyers GuideIf you’re shopping for your first CBD product, this article is a great place to start.
  • 7 Reasons Why CBD Is So ExpensiveThis article explains why some CBD products sport a premium price tag, but it also shares information on how you can save money easily when shopping for CBD products online.


If you still have questions, our friendly in-house customer support team members are always happy to help during any part of your journey. You can speak with them via our website’s chat function (see the “Live Chat” icon at the bottom right of any page on cbdMD.com) or use the information on our support page.