Cannabinoid Exposure and Subjective Effects of THC and CBD in Edible Cannabis Products

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2024 Feb;9(1):320-334. doi: 10.1089/can.2022.0020. Epub 2022 Nov 15.


Background: The popularity of edible cannabis products continues to grow in states with legal cannabis access, but few studies have investigated the acute effects of these commercially available products. The present study sought to explore the effects of three commercially available edible products with different levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Methods: A sample of regular cannabis users (N=99) were evaluated. Fifty participants completed the study procedures in-person, whereas 49 participants completed the study procedures remotely via Zoom. Subjective effects and plasma cannabinoid levels (in-person participants only) were assessed before and 2 h after participants self-administered one of three products ad libitum: a THC-dominant edible product, a CBD-dominant edible product, or a THC+CBD edible product. Results: At the 2-h post-use assessment, among in-person participants, plasma THC and CBD levels were robustly correlated with self-reported milligrams of THC and CBD consumed, respectively. Across all three conditions, in-person and remote participants experienced (1) an increase in subjective intoxication and elation, (2) a decrease in tension, and (3) no change in paranoia from pre-use to post-use. At post-use, participants who used a CBD product reported less intoxication relative to participants who used a THC+CBD or THC-only product. Participants who used a THC+CBD product reported consuming less THC-and displayed lower plasma THC levels (in-person participants)-relative to participants who used a THC-only product, despite reporting similar levels of positive (intoxication, elation, liking) and psychotomimetic (paranoia, tension) effects. Psychotomimetic effects were very low among both in-person and remote participants across all three conditions, and there were no post-use differences across conditions. Conclusions: Findings suggest that experienced users who consumed a THC+CBD product reported similar levels of positive and psychotomimetic effects relative to those who consumed a THC-only product, despite consuming less THC and displaying lower plasma THC concentrations. Given the potential harms associated with acute cannabis reward and long-term THC exposure, further research is needed to establish whether edible cannabis products with CBD pose less risk to users. Future studies should examine whether these effects generalize to samples of infrequent users, who may have less experience with edible cannabis use. ID: NCT03522103.

Keywords: cannabidiol; edibles; harm reduction; oral administration; subjective effects; tetrahydrocannabinol.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol* / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoids*
  • Cannabis
  • Hallucinogens
  • Humans


  • Cannabidiol
  • Cannabinoids
  • Hallucinogens

Associated data