Smoking CBD: Benefits, Risks, and Best Methods

Benefits and risks of smoking CBD
By Anthony Pellegrino Updated May 23rd

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

In recent years, CBD has surged in popularity, capturing the attention of medical patients and wellness enthusiasts alike. This non-intoxicating cannabinoid, derived from the cannabis plant, has gained recognition for its potential therapeutic benefits. Thanks to its versatility in various forms, such as edibles, topicals, and concentrates, it has become highly accessible to a broad spectrum of consumers. 

Historically, people have smoked cannabis for its potential medicinal properties. However, consumers ask if smoking CBD is safe.1

Get Your Medical Card Online Get approved today in minutes with the nation's #1 trusted medical card provider.
No appointment needed. Only billed if approved.

What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the numerous cannabinoids found in cannabis. Unlike its more famous counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning it won't get you "high." Instead, it's recognized for its potential therapeutic properties, which have unsurprisingly piqued the interest of medical patients and wellness seekers.

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. They interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of receptors and signaling molecules present in the bodies of humans and various animals. The ECS plays a pivotal role in regulating a multitude of bodily processes, including mood, pain perception, immune function, and more.2

It's important to distinguish between CBD, the cannabinoid, and CBD products. CBD products encompass a wide array of formulations, including oils, tinctures, edibles, topicals, and more. These products contain varying concentrations of the cannabinoid CBD and may include other beneficial compounds, like terpenes and other minor cannabinoids.

Can You Smoke CBD?

Can you smoke CBD?

When discussing smoking CBD, in most cases, we mean smoking hemp flower. To smoke CBD, people often opt for CBD-rich strains, although these can be somewhat harder to find in licensed dispensaries compared to high-THC strains. CBD-rich strains are typically grown in limited quantities. The availability may vary depending on your location and local regulations. Some states only offer CBD products to registered medical patients, so be aware of the legal framework in your area.

To smoke CBD or CBD-rich strains, you can use various methods, including:

  • Using a bowl, pipe, or joint
  • Using a bong or water pipe
  • Rolling a CBD-dominant joint or blunt
  • Vaporizing CBD concentrates or oils

Also, remember that the experience of smoking CBD-rich hemp flower can be similar to smoking high-THC cannabis flower in terms of the methods used. However, the effects will differ significantly due to the non-intoxicating nature of CBD.

Smoking CBD vs Smoking THC: What's the Difference?

One of the most significant distinctions between smoking CBD and smoking high-THC cannabis is the absence of the intoxicating "high" associated with THC. Unlike THC, CBD does not directly activate the CB1 receptors in the brain responsible for the euphoric effects of cannabis. Instead, CBD offers a more subtle and calming influence on the mind and body. Research suggests that CBD may induce a sense of relaxation and overall well-being without impairing cognitive function.3,4

CBD and THC both exist in their acidic forms (CBDA and THCA, respectively) in the raw cannabis plant. When heated, such as through smoking, these acidic compounds get converted into active, non-acidic forms (CBD and THC). 

While THC directly binds with cannabinoid (CB) receptors, CBD operates differently. It inhibits the breakdown of endocannabinoids, such as anandamide, by blocking the action of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). This process results in increased endocannabinoid levels and heightened activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors, contributing to CBD's therapeutic effects.

Is Smoking CBD From Federally Legal Hemp Different From high-THC Cannabis?

Is smoking hemp different from high-THC cannabis?

The legality of CBD can vary significantly depending on its source, and it is crucial to understand the distinction between federally legal hemp and CBD products available in dispensaries.

At the federal level in the United States, the legal status of CBD hinges on the source of the cannabinoid. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in most states, thanks to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill explicitly legalized cultivating, processing, and distributing hemp and hemp-derived products as long as they contain no more than 0.3% THC, the intoxicating compound in cannabis. This 0.3% threshold is a critical factor in differentiating hemp from marijuana.

In states with legal recreational cannabis programs, consumers can find CBD products derived from cannabis with more than 0.3% THC. These products are typically available in licensed dispensaries and can contain a varying array of THC-to-CBD ratios. 

The primary difference between federally legal hemp-derived CBD and CBD products from dispensaries lies in the THC content. Hemp-derived CBD contains less than 0.3% THC and is accessible in most states. It is primarily used for its potential therapeutic benefits and is often available in various forms, such as oils, tinctures, and edibles.

However, it's important to note that CBD from high-CBD hemp varieties of cannabis is still subject to state-specific regulations, including purchase age limits.

The source of CBD in dispensaries can be high-THC cannabis, which is cultivated for both its intoxicating and therapeutic properties. CBD products that may have a higher THC content can lead to intoxication or impairment, especially if consumed in significant quantities. However, CBD products can also be sourced from what is legally classified as hemp, or rather high-CBD cannabis.

Remember that when purchasing CBD products, particularly online, there's a wide range of CBD concentrations and quality. Some studies have shown that a significant percentage of online CBD products contain less CBD than labeled, which could undermine their potential clinical efficacy.5 Purchasing CBD products from licensed dispensaries can be a safer choice, as they are subject to rigorous testing and adhere to manufacturing standards.

Get Your Medical Card Online Get approved today in minutes with the nation's #1 trusted medical card provider.
No appointment needed. Only billed if approved.

Benefits of Smoking CBD

The popularity of CBD is not without reason; numerous studies and anecdotal evidence suggest a wide array of potential benefits. Smoking CBD is a preferred method for many due to its rapid onset of effects. Some of the main benefits are: 

Chronic Pain 

CBD has emerged as a promising pain reliever. Studies indicate CBD's potential in reducing chronic pain may be attributed to its impact on endocannabinoid receptor activity, anti-inflammatory properties, and interaction with neurotransmitters.6,7 This combination may help individuals manage and alleviate various types of chronic pain, improving their overall well-being.

Anxiety and Depression

Research strongly supports the potential of CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders. CBD's action on the brain's serotonin receptors, specifically the 5-HT1A receptors, appears to mediate its anti-anxiety and anti-fear effects.8 This makes CBD a valuable option for those seeking relief from anxiety and depression symptoms.


Many individuals turn to CBD to enhance their sleep quality and reduce insomnia symptoms. CBD has demonstrated the ability to increase the duration of deep sleep and decrease nighttime awakenings, leading to more restful sleep.9


For those who suffer from migraines, CBD has shown the potential to reduce the frequency and severity of these debilitating headaches. CBD's mechanisms include reducing pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms commonly associated with migraines.10


CBD has also been recognized for its potential to alleviate pain, swelling, and arthritis-related inflammation. Some individuals with arthritis have reported improvements in joint mobility and function.11

Risks of Smoking CBD

Risks of smoking CBD

While CBD is generally regarded as a safe compound, it's important to be aware of potential side effects and risks, particularly when it comes to smoking CBD. 

Potential Side Effects of CBD

CBD use may lead to some side effects, although they are typically mild and well-tolerated. These possible side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, constipation, diarrhea, changes in appetite, and fatigue. Remember that these effects may vary from person to person, and not everyone will experience them.

Irritation to Lungs and Throat

One specific concern associated with smoking CBD is the potential for irritation to the lungs and throat, a common side effect of inhaling smoke. This risk parallels the general risks of smoking any substance, including traditional cigarettes. To mitigate this, individuals have the option to explore alternative consumption methods that do not involve inhaling smoke. 

Interaction with Medications

CBD can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, cold medicine, antibiotics, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants.12 If you are taking any of these medications, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating smoking CBD into your routine. They can provide guidance on potential interactions and safe usage.

To avoid the potential risks associated with smoking, consider alternative CBD consumption methods. These methods include oral ingestion, transmucosal routes (absorption through the mucosa), transdermal applications, and vaporization. Each offers unique advantages, such as reduced exposure to harmful combustion by-products and longer-lasting effects.13

What Does Smoking CBD Feel Like?

CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, meaning it does not induce the euphoric or intoxicating sensations typically associated with cannabis use. 

Still, when you smoke CBD, you can expect a unique set of sensations:

  • Relaxation: CBD is often described as producing a sense of relaxation, both in the mind and the body. Users report feeling a soothing effect, which can be particularly beneficial for stress or anxiety relief.
  • Pain Relief: Many individuals turn to CBD for its potential to alleviate pain and discomfort. It may reduce the perception of pain by influencing endocannabinoid receptor activity, interacting with neurotransmitters, and reducing inflammation.14
  • Clarity of Mind: Unlike THC, which can impair cognitive function, CBD does not interfere with your ability to think clearly or perform daily tasks. You can expect to remain mentally alert and focused.
  • No Euphoria: CBD does not produce the "high" that is characteristic of THC. It does not lead to altered perceptions, increased heart rate, or the sensation of intoxication.
  • Anxiety Reduction: CBD has shown promise in reducing symptoms of anxiety, potentially due to its interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain. Users often report feeling a sense of ease and reduced anxiousness.
  • Positive Mood: Some individuals experience improved mood after smoking CBD. It can invoke positive feelings without the undesirable effects often associated with high-THC products.

What are the Different Ways to Smoke CBD?

Different ways to smoke CBD

Smoking CBD can be an effective way to experience its potential benefits, and there are several methods to choose from. Each method has its unique advantages and disadvantages, making it important to select the one that aligns with your preferences and experience level. Here are some popular ways to smoke CBD:

1. Vaping

Vaping flower allows for quick absorption and rapid onset of effects, making it a preferred choice for those seeking immediate relief. Not only that, vaping devices often come with adjustable settings, allowing users to control the dosage more accurately. Finally, vape pens and devices are typically compact and convenient for on-the-go use.

While vaping is considered less harmful than smoking, there are concerns about its long-term health effects. It's crucial to choose high-quality, reputable products. Beginners may also find vaping slightly more complex due to the various device options and settings.

2. Smoking a Joint

Rolling a CBD joint is straightforward and doesn't require any special equipment. Sharing a joint can also be a communal and social activity.

However, smoking any material involves inhaling combusted plant matter, which can irritate the throat and lungs. There are also challenges with controlling the dosage with a joint.

3. Smoking a Bowl

A bowl is a small, portable device that can be packed with CBD flower to smoke. Using a bowl is relatively quick to set up and use. Similar to joint smoking, it involves inhaling smoke, which may come with health risks and potential lung irritation.

4. Using a Bong

Bongs, which use water filtration, produce cooler and smoother hits and reduce throat irritation for big and efficient CBD hits.

However, bongs require setup and regular cleaning and may not be as portable as other options. This option still involves inhaling smoke, although it's typically cooler and smoother.

For beginners, starting with a method that balances ease of use and control over the experience is advisable. Vaping is often a good starting point due to its rapid onset, precise dosing options, and overall convenience. Still, you should always research and choose reputable, high-quality products to ensure safety.

As you become more comfortable with smoking CBD, you can explore other methods, such as joints, bowls, or bongs.

How to Smoke CBD

Smoking CBD is a popular method for experiencing its potential benefits. Here's the step-by-step way to do it:

  1. Gather Your Supplies: First, you'll need all the necessary supplies on hand. The specific supplies will depend on the smoking method you choose. Common options include a CBD product (e.g., CBD flower, pre-rolled joint, CBD concentrate) and the appropriate smoking device (e.g., pipe, bong, vaporizer).
  2. Prepare the CBD Product: Prepare your chosen CBD product for smoking. If you're using CBD flower, you may need to grind it to the desired consistency. If you're using a pre-rolled joint or CBD concentrate, be sure it's ready for use.
  3. Set Up Your Smoking Device: If you're using a pipe, bong, or vaporizer, set up the device according to its instructions. Make sure it's clean and in good working condition.
  4. Ignite and Inhale: Light the CBD product using a flame or the device's heating element. Inhale the resulting vapor or smoke gently into your lungs. Hold it briefly before exhaling.
  5. Start Slow: If you're new to smoking CBD, begin with a small puff and assess how you feel. Gradually increase the dosage as needed.
  6. Monitor Effects: Pay attention to how you feel and the onset of effects. Depending on the method, you may experience rapid or delayed effects.
  7. Maintain and Clean Your Smoking Device: Regularly clean and maintain your smoking device to keep it functioning correctly. Refer to the device's instructions for cleaning guidelines.
  8. Store Properly: When not in use, store your CBD products and smoking devices in a cool, dry place to maintain their quality.

Smoking CBD FAQ

Is it Safe to Smoke CBD?

While CBD is generally considered safe, smoking can be harmful to the lungs. You should always use high-quality, reputable CBD products to guarantee the safest use. The safety profile is primarily influenced by the quality of the CBD product and the method of smoking.

Is Smoking CBD Safer Than Smoking Marijuana?

Smoking CBD is generally considered safer than smoking cannabis due to CBD's lack of intoxicating effects, resulting in reduced risks of impaired cognitive function and undesirable side effects.

Can You Smoke CBD Oil?

CBD oil is primarily designed for oral use, and smoking it is not recommended. Instead, it's best to use CBD products specifically formulated for smoking, such as CBD flower or concentrates.

Can CBD Decrease the Feeling of Being High?

CBD is known for its potential to moderate some of the adverse effects associated with THC, including anxiety, tachycardia, and sedation. It may help decrease the feeling of being "high" when used in conjunction with high-THC products.

Get Your Medical Card Online Get approved today in minutes with the nation's #1 trusted medical card provider.
No appointment needed. Only billed if approved.

What Does Smoking CBD Do?

Smoking CBD can produce various effects, including relaxation, potential pain relief, improved mood, and reduced anxiety. However, it does not induce the intoxication associated with THC.

Can You Smoke Hemp?

Yes, hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant and can be smoked. Hemp-derived CBD products are legally available in many regions and provide a non-intoxicating way to experience CBD's potential benefits.

Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

While pure CBD is not likely to produce a positive result on a standard drug test, some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC. It's crucial to use CBD products with third-party lab testing to verify THC content, especially if you are subject to drug testing.

How Long Does it Take to Feel CBD From Smoking?

The onset of CBD effects can vary, but it typically can take up to 15 minutes to feel the effects. When smoked, you may begin to feel the effects within minutes, making it one of the fastest ways to experience the benefits of CBD. However, the specific timing may vary depending on individual factors.


  1. Crocq MA. History of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids. 2020;22(3):223-228. doi: ↩︎
  2. Lu HC, Mackie K. An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Biol Psychiatry. 2016;79(7):516-525. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028 ↩︎
  3. Martin-Santos R, Crippa JA, Batalla A, et al. Acute effects of a single, oral dose of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) administration in healthy volunteers. Current pharmaceutical design. 2012;18(32):4966-4979. doi: ↩︎
  4. Drennan ML, Karoly HC, Bryan AD, Hutchison KE, Bidwell LC. Acute objective and subjective intoxication effects of legal-market high potency THC-dominant versus CBD-dominant cannabis concentrates. Scientific Reports. 2021;11(1):21744. doi: ↩︎
  5. Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi: ↩︎
  6. Rapin L, Gamaoun R, El Hage C, Arboleda MF, Prosk E. Cannabidiol use and effectiveness: real-world evidence from a Canadian medical cannabis clinic. Journal of Cannabis Research. 2021;3(1). doi: ↩︎
  7. Atalay S, Jarocka-Karpowicz I, Skrzydlewska E. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants. 2019;9(1):21. doi: ↩︎
  8. Sharpe L, Sinclair J, Kramer A, de Manincor M, Sarris J. Cannabis, a cause for anxiety? A critical appraisal of the anxiogenic and anxiolytic properties. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2020;18(1). doi: ↩︎
  9. Ranum RM, Whipple MO, Croghan I, Bauer B, Toussaint LL, Vincent A. Use of Cannabidiol in the Management of Insomnia: A Systematic Review. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2023;8(2):213-229. doi:10.1089/can.2022.0122 ↩︎
  10. Poudel S, Quinonez J, Choudhari J, et al. Medical Cannabis, Headaches, and Migraines: A Review of the Current Literature. Cureus. 2021;13(8):e17407. doi: ↩︎
  11. Frane N, Stapleton E, Iturriaga C, Ganz M, Rasquinha V, Duarte R. Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study. Journal of Cannabis Research. 2022;4(1). doi: ↩︎
  12. Balachandran P, Elsohly M, Hill KP. Cannabidiol Interactions with Medications, Illicit Substances, and Alcohol: a Comprehensive Review. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2021;36(7). doi: ↩︎
  13. Stella B, Baratta F, Della Pepa C, Arpicco S, Gastaldi D, Dosio F. Cannabinoid Formulations and Delivery Systems: Current and Future Options to Treat Pain. Drugs. 2021;81(13):1513-1557. doi: ↩︎
  14. Villanueva MRB, Joshaghani N, Villa N, et al. Efficacy, Safety, and Regulation of Cannabidiol on Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review. Cureus. 2022;14(7):e26913. Published 2022 Jul 16. doi:10.7759/cureus.26913 ↩︎

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

Continue Reading:

You might also like: