Several studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD), on its own, is not addictive, and does not present potential for abuse. According to a 2017 World Health Organisation report on CBD, there were no case reports of abuse or dependence relating to the use of pure CBD, however long-term research is still in the early stages.
CBD is one of two main cannabinoids or active compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant; the other being delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical responsible for the psychoactive effects, i.e., the ‘high’ of cannabis.
In a small study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design, researchers compared the pharmacological effects of THC and CBD in humans. Relative to both placebo and CBD, THC was associated with anxiety, dysphoria, positive psychotic symptoms, physical and mental sedation, subjective intoxication and an increase in heart rate. There were no differences between CBD and the placebo on any symptomatic, physiological variable.
Furthermore, oral use of CBD, even at very high doses, does not cause THC-like effects. In a report published by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the study showed that high doses of oral CBD do not cause psychological, psychomotor, cognitive or physical effects that are characteristic for THC, or cannabis rich in THC. In clinical studies, high doses of oral CBD were consistently shown to cause opposite effects to those of THC. They also found that CBD use does not result in detectable THC blood concentrations.
This is contrary to active marijuana which reliably produced abuse-related effects. Marijuana refers to products from the Cannabis plant that contain substantial amounts of THC. Therefore, pure CBD products are a suitable option to hone the benefits of cannabis without the high.
Interestingly, CBD’s therapeutic properties (such as its protective effect on stress vulnerability and neurotoxicity) could, indirectly, be useful in the treatment of addiction disorders. Because CBD acts on several neurotransmission systems involved in addiction, there have been studies on the effects of CBD on opioid and psychostimulant addiction. Human studies showed some preliminary evidence of a beneficial impact on cannabis and tobacco dependence. While there are ongoing studies on the effects of CBD on cannabis, opioid and cocaine addiction, the emerging data remains limited and far from conclusive.
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