Can CBD be addictive?

Early scientific research suggests CBD may influence symptoms from a host of conditions. Although the cannabinoid has become incredibly popular, some users still question its safety. One common question we often hear is: “Is CBD addictive?”. Find the answer below.

Is CBD addictive?

To put it simply: no. CBD does not produce addictive behaviours in the vast majority of people. Even the World Health Organisation concluded that CBD produces next to no abuse potential.

However, we understand why people often ask this question. CBD, like most phytocannabinoids, derives from the cannabis plant. More specifically, most CBD comes from industrial hemp, which must contain below 0.2% THC under EU law. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis that produces the “high” associated with marijuana.

Those new to the world of cannabis and hemp can very easily end up lost in all of the information. They often confuse the effects of CBD with those of THC-rich cannabis as a whole.

How THC and CBD affect the body

THC produces its psychoactive effects by activating CB1 receptors in the central nervous system. This mechanism of action tinkers with the dopamine system and influences reward-seeking behaviours, and thus may trigger a cycle of addiction in some users.

In contrast, CBD doesn’t directly activate receptors of the endocannabinoid system and doesn’t produce psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD is believed to reduce THC’s ability to bind to and activate CB1 receptors. Overall, despite being almost identical twins on a molecular level, CBD and THC produce completely different effects. Although most CBD products—with the exception of pure CBD crystals—contain some THC, such small quantities produce no psychoactive effect at all.

Research published in the journal Current Drug Safety investigated the safety and side effects of cannabidiol. Frequent doses of up to 1500mg/day of CBD were well tolerated in humans. In contrast to THC, CBD caused no changes in heart rate, blood pressure, or body temperature.

CBD and addiction—supporting research

The strongest piece of evidence surrounding CBD’s addictive potential, or lack thereof, comes in the form of an abuse potential assessment published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior. The randomised, double-blind, controlled trial investigated the abuse potential of CBD on recreational drug users.

The researchers administered highly purified doses of CBD (750, 1500, and 4500mg) to volunteers in single oral doses. The cannabinoid was compared to doses of the anxiety drug alprazolam (2mg), the synthetic cannabinoid dronabinol (10 and 30mg), and placebo. The volunteers then scored values such as “Drug-Liking” using a visual analogue scale.

The results displayed similar scores between CBD and placebo. The researchers stated that the administration of a therapeutic dose of CBD (750mg) showed significantly low abuse potential. The higher doses of 1500 and 4500mg showed different effects than placebo, but still less than the other drugs involved in the study.

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