CBD ratios blog

How Do CBD Ratios Work?

CBD ratios blog

Posted on January 10th, 2024 to Products


Once a hot topic in the cannabis industry, the subject of CBD ratios has become commonplace as cannabis-derived CBD products have become more affordable and plentiful over the years. The premise of these ratios is that THC & CBD work better together than they do separately, and varying proportions of CBD to THC produce noticeably different effects that may better suit people who don’t want to feel intoxicated or don’t tolerate THC well.


What is CBD?

You’re probably familiar with THC, the chemical that causes the psychoactive high from consuming cannabis, so let’s briefly talk about CBD in case you’re less familiar with it. CBD is short for cannabidiol, and it’s a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that is being researched for its anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, anxiolytic, neuroprotective, antioxidant, and antipsychotic properties. A common but false belief regarding CBD is that it is the only medicinal or therapeutic component of cannabis, though this could not be further from the truth, as THC (and many other cannabinoids and terpenes) provide a diverse range of therapeutic benefits, and they all work synergistically.


Research & Clinical Trials

As of late 2023, there are nearly 200 clinical trials in the United States being conducted to test the efficacy of CBD for various ailments including PTSD, cancer, schizophrenia, cognitive impairment, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, and even nicotine addiction. Prior to these studies, existing research and clinical trials from countries like the United Kingdom and Israel have guided the decision making of American pot product developers for years now. To be more specific, groundbreaking studies regarding a cannabis-based drug called Sativex® repeatedly emphasized that a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC seems optimal for treating the widest array of symptoms.

Sativex® is prescribed to people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 25 countries— Canada, Brazil, Australia, and 18 European countries to name a few— but has not yet been approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Published research by local neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo states that “numerous randomized clinical trials have demonstrated safety and efficacy for Sativex®,” and he goes on to say that it is considered to be very well-tolerated with minimal or negligible side effects (his exact, albeit confusing phrasing was “a very favorable adverse event profile has been observed in over 2500 patient years of exposure in over 2000 experimental subjects”). In one UK study funded by GW Pharmaceuticals (the original producers of Sativex®), patients were administered a 5mg/kg dose of CBD in conjunction with a 5mg/kg dose of THC and observed a 20% peak reduction in spasticity (stiff or rigid muscles). When the patients were given 10mg/kg of CBD and 10mg/kg of THC, the peak reduction in spasticity increased to 40%.

In another Sativex® study out of Scotland, serious adverse events related to treatment were only reported in 2.7% of patients; The most common adverse side effects reported from Sativex® clinical trials were dizziness, drowsiness, and disorientation. The same study also concluded that “patients consistently reported little or no intoxication” and that “Sativex® is well tolerated and provides sustained long-term symptom relief.”

After reading through clinical trials and other studies pertaining to CBD, it seems apparent that the varying ratios are more of a matter of preference or an individual’s unique needs rather than effectiveness. To put that another way, there’s a strong probability that you will benefit the most from a product with a 1:1 ratio, but if you don’t tolerate THC well, or if you’re going to be in a situation that requires you to retain a certain level of mental clarity, such as medicating before work, consider trying a cannabis product with a higher ratio of CBD to THC.


Truth in Advertising

It’s important to note that the order matters in a ratio, meaning the first number before the colon should always be in reference to CBD because, once again, these ratios are all derived from Dr. Russo’s revolutionary clinical trial, and the placement of the numbers is not arbitrary. If there is a higher number before the colon, like 10:1, it should mean that the product contains 10x more CBD than THC.

The overwhelming majority of cannabis producers properly adhere to this convention, but unfortunately there are a couple of major brands in Washington that break this convention by promoting their 1:2 products as being 2:1, for example. It is always recommended that you double check the compulsory lab results on the product packaging to see the actual CBD and THC content before you buy a ratio product. This is also important because at least one other major brand in Washington plays fast and loose with their ratios, so the actual CBD and THC content in their products can vary quite a bit from the ratio they advertise on their packaging (I guess 10:1 sounds better than 7.5:1). Always double check the lab results, and if you’re not sure, ask your budtender to verify that the product’s actual cannabinoid content matches up with their marketing.

In recent years, certain cannabis producers have been defying the international convention for ratios by replacing the CBD with CBN or CBG; For example, there are products with 2x more CBN than THC (and no CBD) which advertise themselves as being 2:1. It’s valid to perceive this practice as deceptive, incorrect, and even irresponsible, but the producers in question typically shrug it off because ‘it’s still a ratio.’ I’ll say it a third time: always double check the lab results rather than relying on a cannabis product’s marketing (as a cannabis marketer, I can tell you that you should always take cannabis marketing with a grain of salt, even and especially when a product promotes itself as a therapeutic product as opposed to a recreational product).

For both of our sanity, we’re not even going to get into products that advertise things like 4:2:1 ratios in this blog.


1:1 CBD Ratio Products

Products with a 1:1 ratio provide the broadest spectrum of relief, and seem to be the most effective for alleviating neuropathic pain. In terms of intoxication, CBD curbs the intensity of the THC high, but simultaneously prolongs the duration of THC’s effects. As of this writing, 210 Cannabis Co. carries the following products with a 1:1 ratio:


2:1 CBD Ratio Products

Products with a 2:1 ratio may contain less THC than a 1:1 product, but they may still feel similar to 1:1 products, so this ratio may not be ideal for people who are sensitive to THC, but it’s still worth experimenting with. As of this writing, 210 Cannabis Co. carries the following products with a 2:1 ratio:


5:1 CBD Ratio Products

Products with a 5:1 ratio have a functional, generally clear-headed balance of THC & CBD that’s better suited to those who are sensitive to THC’s effects but still want to maximize its benefits. As of this writing, 210 Cannabis Co. carries the following products with a 5:1 ratio:


10:1 CBD Ratio Products

Products with a 10:1 ratio are CBD rich— or “high CBD,” which is actually a term that’s regulated by Washington State—and have just enough THC to allow the user to benefit from its effects without feeling much of a high. As of this writing, 210 Cannabis Co. carries the following products with a 10:1 ratio:


20:1 CBD Ratio Products

These products are CBD rich, with a micro-dose of THC to optimize the effects. This ratio is intended to be non-intoxicating, and the folks at Fairwinds have observed that there are diminishing returns in terms of wellness support for ratios that exceed 20:1. As of this writing, 210 Cannabis Co. carries the following products with a 20:1 ratio:


As with all cannabis products, the experiences are unique to the individual, and we encourage our customers and medical cannabis patients to experiment with different ratios to see which one works best for their specific needs. In the near future we’re planning to have all of our budtenders certified to be Medical Cannabis Consultants, but until then we encourage anyone interested in learning more to visit ProjectCBD.org for more information.


About the Author

Ramsey Doudar has continuously worked in Washington’s cannabis industry for over 10 years, holding various positions that ranged from marketing strategist to inventory manager. He serves as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for 210 Cannabis Co, and is also the founding member of a cannabis consumer advocacy group.

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