• High CBD/low THC cannabis strains are gaining popularity as physicians and patients alike discover the purported medical advantages this form of cannabis provides. 
  • After building a complete genome from a new strain of cannabis, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Sunrise Genetics discovered that high-CBD “hemp” plants had a genome composed mainly of marijuana(1).
  • While tolerance to the cannabinoids varies from patient to patient, it is recommended to follow the golden rule of cannabis—”start low, go slow”—until individuals discover the optimal dosage for their body.

The Growing Popularity of High CBD Strains

​​High CBD/low THC cannabis strains are gaining popularity as physicians and patients alike discover the purported medical advantages this form of cannabis provides. 

After building a complete genome from a new strain of cannabis, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Sunrise Genetics discovered that high-CBD “hemp” plants had a genome composed mainly of marijuana(2).

A clinical study from the journal New Phytologist indicated that high-CBD plants inherit around 90% of their genes from drug-type cannabis and the rest from hemp(3)

Cannabis plants are traditionally divided into a drug type produced for psychoactive effects or intoxicating effects (i.e., marijuana) and a hemp type used to make industrial items such as fiber.

When choosing a medical strain, it is essential to consider the various applications of cannabinoids and terpenes present in the CBD flower. 

Notably, different strains have distinct terpene profiles.

One of the nonpsychoactive compounds in marijuana is CBD, while THC is a psychoactive component.

Medical marijuana is legal in several states. Meanwhile, the increasing number of individuals seeking relief from various conditions has led to higher-CBD strains. These strains are known to eliminate the psychoactive effects of THC.

What Does It Mean for a Strain to Be High in CBD?

Most of the CBD in high-CBD strains comes mainly from the hemp flower. CBD may be extracted from other plant parts, such as the leaves and stems. However, the hemp flower has the highest concentration of CBD. Different cannabinoids are also present in the hemp flower, depending on the strain.

Each cannabis flower includes a unique mix of cannabinoids. The best high CBD/low THC strain is one in which the CBD cannabinoid content is much greater than the THC CBD ratio concentration. The CBD: THC ratio of a high CBD/low THC strain should be 10:1. 

Without THC, CBD should not have any psychoactive effects. However, for very high THC strains, there is a possibility that individuals may feel high, mainly if the users are beginners.

What Is CBD (Cannabidiol)?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the most abundant active compounds in cannabis (marijuana)(4). CBD is a vital component of medicinal marijuana. However, it is either extracted directly from hemp, a close relative of cannabis, or synthesized in a laboratory. 

What Is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)?

Marijuana has about a hundred active components(5). THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the molecule responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana usage. 

Meanwhile, CBD-dominant strains have little to no THC ratio. Therefore, users report little to no consciousness change, if any.

What Is CBN (Cannabinoids)?

Cannabinol (CBN) is the nonenzymatic oxidation byproduct of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is often a storage artifact, particularly at higher temperatures. CBN was the first cannabis cannabinoid to be found and isolated from cannabis(6).

The finding was likely the result of widespread degradation of THC to CBN due to poor quality control, shipping, and storage conditions prevalent throughout the 19th century. These obstacles are still difficult to overcome in modern cannabis products.

CBN may have sedative and anticonvulsant characteristics and anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) action(7).

Health Benefits of High CBD/Low THC Strains

The study of high CBD/low THC strains continues, and more research is required before researchers can make any definitive statements. Nonetheless, some researchers are highly optimistic about the use of CBD and THC strains. 

Medical Treatments Using High CBD/Low THC Strains

The purported advantages of CBD and THC may help with the following(8)

1. Epilepsy

Studies have examined cannabinoids, including CBD, in managing epilepsy-related seizures. The FDA has authorized Epidiolex (oral CBD) to control seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two epileptic encephalopathies. 

Epileptic encephalopathies are a category of childhood-onset seizure illnesses characterized by frequent seizures and significant cognitive impairment.

2. Chronic Pain Management 

A 2018 evaluation of 16 cannabis-based medications for neuropathic pain, which primarily used nabiximols showed low-to-moderate-quality evidence that such drug offered greater pain relief over placebos.

The brand name Sativex is a mouth spray containing THC and CBD that is approved in some countries but not in the U.S. 

3. Anxiety

Based on small data from human research, cannabis or cannabinoids may alleviate anxiety. The researchers observed that 24 individuals with a social anxiety disorder who took CBD had less anxiety than those who took a placebo in a simulated public speaking exam. 

4. HIV 

Unintentional weight loss might be a problem for HIV/AIDS patients. In 1992, the FDA authorized the cannabinoid dronabinol to manage HIV/AIDS-related appetite loss linked with weight loss. This approval was based mainly on 139-person research that evaluated the effects of dronabinol on hunger and weight fluctuations.

There were previous clinical studies on the effects of cannabis or cannabinoids on hunger and weight loss among HIV/AIDS patients. However, they were brief, had small sample sizes, and were inconclusive.

5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A 2018 analysis included three studies (93 participants) comparing smoked cannabis or cannabis oil to placebos in individuals with active Crohn’s disease. In terms of clinical remission, there was no difference between the cannabis or cannabis oil and placebo groups. 

Some cannabis or cannabis oil users saw symptom relief, while others suffered adverse side effects. It was unclear if the possible advantages of cannabis or cannabis oil outweighed the potential risks.

6. Sleep Problems

Numerous research on the effects of cannabis or cannabinoids on sleep has been conducted on individuals with medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, PTSD, or chronic pain

Cannabis or cannabinoid users have claimed that they often exhibit improved sleep quality, fewer sleep disruptions, and a shorter time to fall asleep. However, it is unclear if cannabis products directly affected sleep or whether patients slept better due to reduction in their symptoms. 

Sample of High CBD/Low THC Strains

1. ACDC (15% CBD, 1% THC)

It is a 50/50 hybrid with a strong CBD: THC ratio. ACDC comes with 20% CBD. Some have up to 6% THC, whereas others have just 0.4% THC concentration. ACDC causes euphoria, making users calm and happy. It is also ideal for daytime usage since it promotes attention and sociability.

2. Charlotte’s Web

This strain is 60% indica dominant and was the focus of an effort to legalize high CBD strains containing as much as 20% of CBD. Charlotte’s Web oil has a minimal amount of THC, allowing it to be marketed nationwide.

3. Ringo’s Gift 

This sativa-dominant (60%) strain has a CBD: THC ratio of up to 20%. There are Ringo’s Gift strains with up to 20% CBD and as low as 1% THC. It is a hybrid of ACDC and Harle-Tsu, two strains noted for their high CBD content.

 Users often experience a degree of mental activity while their bodies are calmed and relaxed. Due to the low THC level, the effect is modest yet perceptible. It starts in the brain and gradually spreads to the body, leaving the users relaxed but not couch-locked.

4. Harle-Tsu

This strain is a hybrid between the Sour Tsunami and Harlequin strains and has up to 22% CBD and less than 1% THC. The Harle-Tsu high is relatively mild and does not generate a body or cerebral high. CBD manufacturers claim that this strain may be effective as a painkiller with relaxing effects

5. Harlequin

This well-known Sativa-dominant (75%) strain has the highest THC content on the list (7 to 15%). Nonetheless, it is remarkable to have a CBD concentration of at least 10%. Consequently, Harlequin is great for daytime usage since it keeps users awake and energetic.

6. Cannatonic

Cannatonic is a 50/50 indica/sativa hybrid with a CBD-to-THC ratio that ranges from 5 to 1 to 1 to 1. Due to its relatively equal cannabis content, Cannatonic delivers modest effects and is suitable for medical and recreational usage. Manufacturers may claim that cannatonic is beneficial for chronic pain, migraines, or anxiety.

7. Suzy Q 

Suzy Q has around 10% CBD and less than 1% THC with a piney flavor. Users may describe the uplifting and relaxing feelings associated with this CBD type. Manufacturers claim that it may help treat chronic pain, nausea, arthritis, muscle spasms, and anxiety without the intoxicating effects of THC. 

How to Find the Right Ratio

While tolerance to the cannabinoids varies from patient to patient, it is recommended to follow the golden rule of cannabis—”start low, go slow”—until individuals discover the optimal dosage for their body.

With this in mind, many individuals may choose ratios high in CBD and low in THC content, often known as microdosing, to get “the advantages without the high.”

High-CBD and low-THC products may be appropriate for individuals who want to maintain a clear head while receiving essential mind-body health benefits.

Consumers may ask the local dispensary for particular strains and products to attain these medicinal benefits if they are medical marijuana users.

Important Safety Tips 

Even if individuals choose a high-CBD strain, most CBD products (CBD oils, capsules, gummies, tinctures) will still contain trace amounts of THC. 

Nevertheless, individuals should exercise caution because it is difficult to determine the amount of THC that can impact a person.

Here are some safety tips when trying a new strain

  • Users may choose a strain with the lowest THC and take it easy. 
  • Users must refrain from smoking cannabis since many cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco are also found in it. Instead of smoking, users may try other delivery methods to benefit from CBD oil.
  • If individuals smoke, they should not take deep breaths to avoid getting too many of the harmful byproducts of smoking.
  • Users are not recommended to drive for at least six hours or longer after using high strain CBD, if they are still feeling the effects.
  • Users are not recommended to drive for at least six hours or longer after using high strain CBD if they still feel the effects.
  • Users must remember that each state has its laws about the legal levels of CBD and THC. They may check the laws of their state for more information. When traveling with cannabis, users should be aware of the laws of other states.
  • If users consider taking CBD, they should keep in mind that the quality varies. Hence, they must look for CBD products from states that have legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis.
  • Individuals should only purchase CBD products from a licensed, recognized dispensary or a reliable internet vendor.
  • Users must look for CBD items with lab test reports from a third-party laboratory.
  • Individuals, particularly first-time CBD users, should go for ACDC and other strains with THC levels below 1%.
  • Users may consider vaping CBD-rich, low-THC strains or purchasing edibles or tinctures. Still, smoking marijuana is harmful to the lungs. While the combustion of marijuana flowers creates fewer carcinogens than the tobacco combustion, the process still produces substances that cause cancer.
  • Pregnant or nursing women should not take any marijuana. 
  • Users may consult their physician on the safety of using a CBD product with zero percent THC.


The legality of growing high CBD or low THC strains depends on the state. In many places, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug with high potential for abuse. 

Therefore, cultivating a high CBD, low THC strain may only be permitted in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Alternatively, CBD may be grown in a state with a medicinal cannabis program that allows a grower to have a valid MMJ (medical marijuana) card and is permitted to produce cannabis.

On the other hand, industrial hemp cultivation is a technique to create a high CBD strain. However, if individuals need a cannabis strain with trace amounts of THC, this may not be the ideal choice.

  1. Research shows that, genetically, high-CBD “hemp” plants are mostly marijuana
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Cannabidiol (CBD)-what we know and what we don’t
  5. Medical marijuana
  6. Cannabinol
  7. Ibid.
  8. Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know
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