Here’s an unusual, but very important, question we’re sometimes asked about cannabidiol – can you overdose on CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) products have been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years. A new report from Global Market Insights forecasts that the European CBD market could be worth $15.4bn (£11.8bn) by 2028.
However, this growth could be affected if there’s a risk of any harmful effects. So, can you overdose on CBD?
Rest assured, the short answer is no – you cannot overdose on CBD as long as you only purchase cannabidiol from a trusted provider. In the UK, CBD is legal to buy and sell, as long as it doesn’t contain over 1mg of THC per pack and assuming the product has Food Standards Agency approval.
However, to answer the question ‘can you overdose on CBD?’ properly, the best place to start is by providing complete clarity on what overdoses are.
An overdose is an excessive – and as a result, dangerous – consumption of any substance.
In other words, it is the application or ingestion of something in a quantity that exceeds recommendations and causes negative health consequences.
The NHS cites overdoses as the most common type of poisoning in the UK. It is possible to overdose on medicine, such as paracetamol, as well as drugs such as cannabis.
Cannabis overdose symptoms can include paranoia, hallucinations and numbness in the arms or legs.
Can you overdose on CBD?
It’s probably because of cannabidiol’s connection to the Cannabis sativa plant that influences some people to ask this very question: can you overdose on CBD?
However, it’s a different cannabinoid – THC – which is responsible for creating the wide range of psychoactive effects in the drug cannabis. Taking too much THC, by smoking or eating too much cannabis, causes the symptoms associated with an overdose.
In contrast, CBD is not psychoactive and doesn’t produce a ‘high’. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 does not classify cannabidiol as a controlled substance.
Therefore, you cannot overdose on CBD. The absence of THC in genuine cannabidiol products means that there is no possibility of an overdose, like there is with cannabis.
In recent years, the World Health Organization recommended that pure cannabidiol should “not be placed under international drug control as the substance was not found to have psychoactive properties, and presents no potential for abuse or dependence.”
What about CBD oil though – that’s the most popular cannabidiol product in the UK, as YouGov has reported. Can you overdose on CBD oil?
No, you cannot overdose on CBD oil, or any other legal type of cannabidiol product.
CBD oil is extracted from industrial hemp and can only be cultivated legally, with a Home Office licence, as long as it has a THC content below 0.2%.
By the time any cannabidiol product reaches the market, it can only have 1mg of THC per container or pack – whether it’s a CBD oil, capsule or anything else.
Providers must have the means in place to consistently meet the 1mg limit – unaccredited CBD testing labs cannot reliably detect this. To avoid any risk of exceeding it, they should have this verified by an ISO-accredited lab, with a limit of detection of 0.01%.
CBD isolate products are the purest and do not even contain trace amounts of CBD.
Guidance on CBD dosage
A literature review looking at safety and potential cannabidiol side effects found that even ‘chronic use’ or high doses of 1500mg per day can be well tolerated by the human body.
While there aren’t any official guidelines on how much CBD to take, we’ve written previously about working out the ideal dosage.
- Starting by taking 5-10mg per day
- If that’s not enough, increase it by 5mg per day the following week
- Repeat as necessary to find the right dose for you
Keep track of how much you’re taking – it’s also wise to consult your GP first, in particular if you’re taking any other medications.
The optimum dosage will also depend on factors such as your weight, body chemistry and the type of CBD product you’re using.
While you cannot overdose on CBD, you should bear in mind that some users have felt side effects before, such as drowsiness or dizziness.
Is CBD addictive?
Another question we’re often asked on top of ‘can you overdose on CBD?’ has something in common – ‘is CBD addictive?’
We recently covered this and, again, the absence of THC in cannabidiol means that there are no substances present that could cause an addiction.
CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system in a completely different way to THC, which has much stronger effects that are addictive to some.
In contrast, there is even some preliminary research hypothesising that cannabidiol may be able to help treat addiction, but much more evidence is still required before we can be sure.
Can you overdose on CBD and alcohol?
One final word of caution is that naturally, just because you can’t overdose on CBD, this doesn’t mean that if you take it at the same time as a harmful substance, you can’t overdose on that.
For example, we recently wrote about mixing cannabidiol and alcohol. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can cause drowsiness, vomiting, unconsciousness and, ultimately, death.
There’s not enough research available yet to determine this conclusively, but it is possible that CBD and alcohol taken together will increase each other’s effects on the body.
So while you cannot overdose on CBD, just be careful about other substances – enjoy in moderation, know your limits and always err on the side of caution.
Summary: can you overdose on CBD?
To summarise, you can’t overdose on cannabidiol.
As long as you take care to only buy a high quality CBD product from a reputable provider, it’ll essentially be free of THC.
Therefore it won’t have any psychoactive effects, won’t be addictive and won’t cause any of the symptoms associated with an overdose, even if you take a higher than average amount.