Why CBD may be Ineffective

October 21, 2022

When it comes to CBD, there’s no shortage of anecdotal accounts of success. Whether you’re chatting with your friends or browsing CBD subreddits, you’re bound to hear many positive reviews. Even product marketing can often emphasize health and wellness benefits, whether or not those claims can be backed up with science yet, and even when such claims may be prohibited by Canadian law.

Anecdotes and marketing aside, from what we’ve been able to determine about how CBD impacts our bodies, the current science also suggests that it may be more effective than a placebo, and it’s currently being investigated for a plethora of potential health benefits.

However, if you’ve tried different CBD products and aren’t seeing the effects you want, it can get pretty discouraging. From trying the wrong product, managing expectations, or differing body chemistry, there are a lot of reasons why your experience with CBD may not be as positive as others seemed to have had.

So let’s investigate: what are some possible answers as to why CBD doesn’t seem to be working for you, and what can you do about it?

Type of Product

The chemical makeup of a CBD product can make a big difference in its effect. Depending on the particular cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid profile, it’s possible that a product may produce different effects or be more or less useful for you specifically. Paying attention to certificates of analysis (COAs) and product profiles can be important to knowing what works for you and what doesn’t. Even things like the extraction method can make a difference, as well as whether you’re taking Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, or Isolate. Often times, it can come down to trial and error in order to determine what works best for you. If you haven’t tried alternative products or companies, it might be worth a shot.

Different delivery methods of CBD also seem to make an impact, largely due to how they’re absorbed by our bodies. Edibles or anything taken orally seem to be slightly slower acting and less bioavailable, which means less of them are being absorbed. In contrast, anything smoked or vaped seem to be faster acting and the most bioavailable, while oils and other sublingual methods may be more of a middle ground between those two. If one particular application method doesn’t seem to be doing it for you, it’s always worth doing more product research and trying something else.

Additionally, there are still CBD products being sold through the illegal market. This means that even if a product claims to be organic, have a certain level of CBD content, or have no additional additives, this isn’t always the case. In another example, a 2017 sample trial conducted in the United States found that many companies selling CBD products to Americans online misrepresented the CBD content in the actual product, with the vast majority of goods either under or over labeling themselves. With this in mind, it’s important to buy your products from a legal and trusted source.

Time and Dosage

Since there’s no general calculation or guide for dosages available from regulatory bodies like Health Canada, it can be hard to find an amount that works well for you. The general guidance for dosing is to start low and go slow, gradually increasing the amount over time.

Again, everyone’s different. While we’ve seen some people reporting success with amounts as low as 10-20mg a day, others report needing upwards of 100s of mgs. This lines up with some of the studies that have been published, which suggest that, depending on what you’re trying to treat, much larger amounts of CBD may be needed. Thankfully, however, even in high amounts, most research suggests that CBD is relatively safe, and what side effects do exist are mostly benign. Currently, a lot of the risk seems to center around the way CBD can interact with other medications, and not specific doses.

Managing Expectations

So far, the science we have right now seems to suggest that the effects of CBD are greater than a placebo. That said, it can be hard not to have elevated expectations when CBD is often discussed as a ‘cure all,’. Especially when looking for relief from something, it can be easy to want things to work right away or expect them to solve the problem entirely. Although much of the research about CBD and its effectiveness is positive so far, there’s a lot we still don’t know. The science isn’t there yet, and while we look forward to knowing more in the future, expecting CBD to fix everything is probably setting yourself up for failure.

With product marketing that sometimes promises large health and wellness benefits, it’s important to be aware that the science we have so far is often done in vitro (petri dish), pre-clinical, or conducted with animals. As such, human applicability can be challenging to assess. We don’t know enough to back up a lot of these substantial health claims yet. In addition, some of these companies might be making health and wellness claims in violation of applicable Canadian advertising and cannabis-related laws.

Ultimately, our lives are complex. There are many things we do throughout the day that all have an impact on our health and wellness – such as our diet, sleep, the exercise we’re getting, how stressed our job makes us, etc. It’s important to take these factors into account. We might think CBD’s great, but again, it’s just one thing contributing to the very complex systems of our lives.


Just as certain medications don’t work the same for everyone, it’s the same thing with CBD. Factors like age, sex, weight, body chemistry, general health, etc., can play a huge role in how CBD affects your body. As such, CBD won’t always work for everyone. CBD can also react with other medications you are taking, so always make sure to talk to your doctor if this is a concern for you.

Although perhaps not the most encouraging answer, if you’ve tried different products, methods, and dosages, there’s a chance it might just not be your thing.


Although the potential of CBD is exciting, it’s important to acknowledge that it just won’t work for everyone. While trying different doses, products, and application methods might lead to different results, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Additionally, the science just isn’t there yet to back up a lot of the health and wellness claims circulating. We’re glad for the people who have had success with CBD, but to those who haven’t, we hope you can find something that works for you.

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