This story originally appeared on Weedmaps
Outside the United States, other countries across the globe have also started allowing cannabidiol (CBD) to legally seep into their borders. In Canada, following the passage of The Cannabis Act, which legalized adult-use cannabis, both hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD are available in all provinces. The European Union (EU) has also established regulatory guidelines for hemp-derived CBD oil, allowing the cultivation of hemp provided that the THC content does not exceed 0.2 percent.
A number of South American countries have also loosened restrictions against CBD oil and medical marijuana in general. Both Mexico and Brazil currently allow CBD products to be imported for certain medical conditions, while others, such as Chile, have already established a full-scale medical marijuana program.
But some may still be reluctant to give this non-intoxicating cannabinoid a chance, as they have a misnomer that CBD could create the same type of psychoactive effects as THC, the intoxicating counterpart to CBD and the cannabis plant’s most abundant cannabinoid.
To clear the misinformation and keep the canna-curious well-informed, it’s critical we set the record straight about whether CBD has addictive properties.
Is CBD Addictive?
The short, simple answer is no. At the molecular level, CBD is neither addictive, nor does it produce the so-called stoned effect that THC does.
A March 2017 study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence examined this by administering various oral dosages of CBD to frequent marijuana users alone and in combination with smoked marijuana, which contained 5.3% to 5.8% THC. After analyzing the abuse liability profile of CBD compared with an oral placebo and active marijuana, the research team concluded that CBD did not display any signals of abuse liability.
It’s important to acknowledge that even THC does not induce the same degree of physical withdrawal symptoms that opiates or alcohol do, but chronic cannabis use could cause cannabis use disorder (CUD). This condition causes cannabis withdrawal symptoms that stem from the development of dependency, creating symptoms that can be described as similar to nicotine withdrawal. While cannabis withdrawal symptoms certainly exist, they’re typically limited to increased feelings of anxiety, agitation, poor mood, and sleep disturbance.
Since numerous CBD products contain varying levels of THC, the matter is slightly complicated if we ask the more pointed question: ‘is CBD oil addictive?’
A 2011 study concluded that CBD has a better safety profile compared to THC and other cannabinoids. Researchers found that high doses of CBD of up to 1,500 milligrams per day were well-tolerated by the human subjects. Compared with THC, CBD did not impair motor or psychological functions, nor did it alter the heart rate, blood pressure, or body temperature. This improved safety profile could be a result of CBD being an inverse agonist to the body’s cannabinoid receptors.
While all signs suggest that CBD is not addictive, it’s possible that someone who takes large amounts of CBD on a daily basis could experience side effects such as changes in sleep, inflammation, and anxiety if they quit suddenly.
This doesn’t mean that CBD oil with higher THC levels should be avoided, however, as the combination of CBD and THC has shown to work together to produce an entourage effect that boosts therapeutic benefits while subduing negative side effects. For instance, in a 2010 study involving patients with cancer pain, researchers found that the combination of THC and CBD was more effective in treating the pain than the THC and placebo combination.
CBD Could Help Fight Addiction
Evidence suggests that CBD could also be used to help combat the adverse effects of THC, such as cannabis withdrawal symptoms. In a 2013 report, researchers administered CBD to a 19-year-old woman with cannabis withdrawal syndrome over a ten-day period, which effectively resulted in reduced withdrawal symptoms. Another study, conducted in 2010 and published in Neuropsychopharmacology, examined a total of 94 cannabis users to see what role CBD-to-THC ratios played in reinforcing the effects of drugs and implicit attentional bias to drug stimuli. Compared with smokers of low-CBD strains, the study found that smokers of high-CBD strains showed reduced attentional bias to drug and food stimuli, as well as lower self-rated liking of cannabis stimuli. The research team concluded that “CBD has potential as a treatment for cannabis dependence” and could offer a potential treatment for other addictive disorders.
Existing research also demonstrates that CBD oil could help thwart addiction to other dangerous substances, such as tobacco or opioids. A 2013 study published in Addictive Behaviors looked at the effectiveness of CBD as a way to reduce tobacco cigarette consumption. Observing a total of 24 tobacco smokers, researchers gave half of the subjects an inhaler of CBD and the other half a placebo, instructing them to use the inhaler when they felt the need to smoke. Over a weeklong period, those treated with CBD reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by 40%, while those with the placebo showed no notable difference.
This non-intoxicating cannabinoid has also shown promise in human models. A May 2019 study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that CBD could be effective in reducing cravings associated with heroin addiction. To conduct the study, researchers recruited 42 adults who had been using heroin for an average of 13 years. The subjects were divided into three groups: one group was given 800 milligrams of CBD, another 400 milligrams of CBD, and another a placebo. Compared with the placebo, those who were administered CBD significantly reduced both the craving and anxiety induced by the drug cues.
CBD Oil Side Effects
We’ve established that CBD is neither addictive nor intoxicating, and can potentially reduce cannabis withdrawal symptoms and dependency to other addictive substances, but are there any CBD oil side effects to be aware of?
According to Mayo Clinic, the U.S.-based nonprofit academic medical center, CBD use can potentially cause slightly adverse side effects, including dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. In an investigation on CBD hepatotoxicity in lab mice, researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences found that this non-intoxicating cannabinoid elevated the risk for liver toxicity. The epilepsy medication Epidiolex, which is currently the only U.S.> Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved CBD product on the market, has some side effects that are similar to those of other hemp-derived CBD products.
One area of concern is the potentially adverse effect that CBD has on certain prescription medications such as blood thinners.
A 1993 study found that CBD blocked a family of enzymes called cytochrome P450, which are responsible for eliminating 70 percent to 80 percent of pharmaceutical drugs from the system. Researchers found that CBD blocked these enzymes from being broken down and metabolized in the liver. While this blockage could enable patients to take lower doses of prescription drugs, it could also cause a toxic buildup of pharmaceutical chemicals in the body.
Most CBD oil side effects, such as drowsiness and fatigue, are similar to hemp oil side effects, even though this hemp fiber-derived product usually doesn’t contain any CBD or THC. Outside these mild side effects, there are no known CBD withdrawal effects to be concerned about – and the benefits seem to outweigh the potential drawbacks.