CBD derived from hemp plants contains little to no THC (less than 0.3% according to federal law in the U.S.), and therefore should not put an individual at risk of developing cannabis withdrawal symptoms that might come from heavier THC intake.
Marijuana-derived CBD is extracted from marijuana plants that are usually grown for their intoxicating properties. Unlike hemp-extracted CBD, marijuana-derived CBD oil often contains levels of THC that exceed the federal 0.3% limit. In the event the CBD oil has particularly high levels of THC, an individual could possibly experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms if the oil was used to excess. CBD oil with THC levels above 0.3% is only available in states with medical or adult-use cannabis legalization.
CBD has also demonstrated the potential to curb the use of other addictive substances. In a preclinical animal study published in Neuropsychopharmacology on March 22, 2018, researchers applied CBD gel to lab rats that had a history of voluntary alcohol or cocaine use and showcased addiction-like behavior. The study concluded that CBD was effective in reducing drug use in the rodents, and also reduced common side effects of drug dependency, such as anxiety and impulsivity.
CBD oil can be sourced from both hemp and marijuana. CBD derived from hemp has little to no trace of THC. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
CBD is effective in reducing drug use, and also reduced common side effects of drug dependency, such as anxiety and impulsivity. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Commercial private sector: companies manufacturing cannabidiol would be users of this research. They would also benefit in terms of increased understanding of the effects of CBD treatment on the brain’s endogenous cannabinoid system which would be very important to the development of new cannabinoid targets, some of which are now in the early stages of development.
Increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy: the main users will be NHS Drug Treatment Services and treatment provision within the charitable and private sectors.
Timescales for the benefits to be realized: the success of this project would lead to a large scale randomized clinical trial which, if also successful, would mean that benefits to the target population of cannabis dependent individuals could be realized within 3 years following completion of the present project.
Policy makers: currently there are reviews of drug policy occurring in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A pharmacological treatment for cannabis dependence may well influence drug policy in terms of debates about decriminalisation or licensing cannabis use. In the USA, policy makers may use this research in debating the continuation or not of medical uses of marijuana. Within the UK, users of this research would be the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs.
Wider public: cannabis is a public health issue across the world and so the findings of this project have potential for global impact. Those addicted to cannabis will be the major users of this research. Dependent cannabis use by younger people can impact negatively upon their families and their schools/colleges and these may be indirect beneficiaries. Cannabis remains a large problem for policing and the legal system. The probationary/legal system could be users of this research in terms of advocating more effective treatment orders.
Charities: there are various charities concerned with the use of drugs who will use outputs from this project. For example, the charity DrugScope provides educational materials for school pupils and their teachers and these could encourage more problematic cannabis users to seek help given an effective pharmacological treatment.
How might they benefit?
Potential to contribute to the nation’s health and wealth: the marked prevalence of cannabis use makes it a public health issue and if successful this project will make a significant contribution to the nation’s health. It will also have impact on wealth in terms of fewer days absent from education/work and this combined with improved neurocognitive function should enhance achievement and productivity. Quality of life of individuals with the addiction and their families would be improved by successful pharmacological treatment.
What research and professional skills of staff working on the project will be gained? We anticipate a wide range of generic research skills will be acquired by the post-doc and RA as well as generic communication skills (via peer-reviewed articles, conference abstracts, oral presentations to a range of academic and non-academic audiences).