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CBD and THC are compounds known as cannabinoids that come from the cannabis plant, and they are often added to products in different proportions. The proportion of CBD to THC is known as a CBD:THC ratio. This ratio is helpful because it shows consumers how much of each compound is in a product.
For example, a 1:1 CBD:THC ratio means equal parts of both cannabinoids are present in a product, whereas a 10:1 ratio means there is a high CBD content and lower amounts of THC.
CBD:THC ratios are often listed on the packaging of cannabis products, and there are a few common ratios — like 1:1 — that you’re likely to see more frequently than others.
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Why Does the CBD: THC Ratio Matter?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is known for its anxiolytic (i.e., anxiety-reducing) and anti-inflammatory effects. And delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known for its potent analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. However, THC is also characterized by its psychoactive effects that may cause anxiety or paranoia.
Different ratios will affect individuals differently depending on desired outcomes or other factors such as tolerance level or metabolism.
For example, someone with an anxiety disorder, a lower tolerance, or less experience with cannabis may want to choose cannabis products with a higher concentration of CBD and little THC. (Other cannabinoids and terpenes, like cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), myrcene, linalool, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene, may also help.)
It’s essential to read the label on the packaging of your cannabis product thoroughly. Although CBD:THC ratios are usually listed with the CBD content first and the THC content second, there are some instances where the ratio is reversed or phrased differently.
For example, a package of cannabis edibles may list the cannabinoid content in milligrams (e.g., each piece contains 10 milligrams of THC and five milligrams of CBD. While not directly stated on the packaging, this is a 1:2 CBD:THC ratio).
With that said, it is important to note that the ratio does not refer to the amount of CBD and THC in a cannabis product by milligrams (mg).
So, a product that contains 5 mg CBD and 5 mg THC is a CBD:THC 1:1 product. Similarly, a product containing 50 mg of CBD and 50 mg of THC is also a CBD:THC 1:1 product but will have very different psychoactive effects if used all at once.
High CBD Ratios
These higher ratios focus more on CBD’s therapeutic qualities and rarely cause a high. They are preferable for people with a low tolerance for THC. According to one study, CBD-rich cannabis products have a beneficial impact on symptoms of pain, anxiety, depression, and poor well-being.
20:1, 18:1, 15:1
A 20:1 CBD:THC ratio is a CBD-rich ratio that contains twenty times the amount of CBD than its THC content. An 18:1 ratio has 18 times the amount of CBD per THC content, and so on. These high-CBD ratios are extremely unlikely to cause psychoactive effects.
However, you will still need to be careful with the amount of THC you use, as it may still induce intoxicating effects even if you use CBD-rich products.
Reports suggest that 5 mg of THC taken at once is the level at which psychoactive effects occur, but some may be more or less sensitive to THC and require higher or lower doses to achieve psychoactivity.
This ratio has high-CBD content and medium-THC content. Though it has the highest THC concentration of these high-CBD ratios, it is still considered a CBD-rich ratio.
While it is unlikely to experience a “high” from 20:1, 18:1, or 15:1 ratios, anecdotal reports suggest users may feel some of the psychoactive effects of THC in a 10:1 ratio. It depends on the person, and you should always proceed with caution when trying a new ratio.
More Balanced CBD:THC Ratios
Users consuming products with more balanced CBD:THC ratios will experience a buzz associated with the psychoactive effects of THC. They will benefit more from THC’s therapeutic qualities, such as pain relief with these ratios since this cannabinoid is more heavily present.
A cannabis product with a 4:1 CBD:THC ratio has four times the CBD as THC. Some users, especially those with limited tolerance or experience with cannabis, may experience psychoactive effects associated with THC, known as a “high.”
However, similarly to the 10:1 ratio, this heavily depends on the user.
These more even ratios may be most suitable for people with a THC tolerance. Some anecdotal reports caution that these ratios induced feelings of anxiety and paranoia, adverse side effects that THC can cause.
How to Determine the Best Ratio for You
Determining the best ratio for you is highly personal. It depends on various factors, including your medical condition or symptoms, desired effects, tolerance, experience with cannabis, and more physiological factors, including metabolism, weight, sex, etc. Those with a history of psychiatric disorders may want to avoid high-THC products.
In addition to choosing a ratio, exploring consumption methods best suited to your specific needs is also beneficial. Budtenders can be a great source of information on best consumption methods and CBD:THC ratios when you’re in the dispensary trying to select a product.
However, their knowledge may be limited (or you may not have access to a nearby dispensary). In that case, consulting a cannabis coach or licensed medical marijuana doctor in your state about the best ratios for your condition can be a great alternative and easier to access, thanks to telemedicine.
Always consult a medical professional about developing a treatment plan if intending to use medical cannabis to treat specific conditions.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right CBD:THC ratio depends on the individual and the outcome they want to achieve through medicating. High-CBD ratios like 20:1, 18:1, 15:1, and 10:1 may be more beneficial for people sensitive to the psychoactive effects of THC and those who have never tried cannabis before.
More balanced proportions with higher THC content may be helpful for patients that have an existing tolerance to THC or are seeking relief from symptoms such as chronic pain.
Those looking for guidance should consult their doctor or a licensed cannabis physician to help determine which ratio will deliver the therapeutic benefits they’re searching for.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does the 1:1 CBD:THC ratio get you high?
Whether or not that 1:1 CBD:THC ratio gets you high depends on the person. Psychoactive effects may be present when consuming a 1:1 CBD:THC ratio. However, its impacts will vary from person to person and are affected by factors including your tolerance, body weight, metabolism, the amount dosed, etc. The only way to find out is to try the ratio. Always dose “low and slow” when experimenting with a new cannabis product, and document the different effects.
What’s the best CBD:THC ratio for energy?
No research identifies which CBD:THC ratio is best for energy. One study did find that THC-rich oil helped reduce fatigue scores in fibromyalgia patients. However, anecdotal evidence is conflicting, and there is no clear evidence that high-THC ratios are more energizing than high-CBD strains. In fact, low doses of CBD, CBG, THCV, limonene, and pinene may be more stimulating than higher doses of THC.
How much CBD should a beginner start with?
If you are new to using medicinal cannabis products, it’s crucial to “dose low and slow,” meaning start with a small amount of product and wait an extended time to observe the effects before consuming more. If you want to be extra cautious, take half the recommended dose (e.g., half of the gummy) to start. So, consider starting with 5 mg of CBD, especially if you’re consuming full-spectrum CBD products.