A new series of animal studies purports to show that cannabidiol (CBD) is non-addictive – potentially differentiating it from THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.

The authors say their work should clear the way for further research into the mechanisms behind the possible beneficial qualities of CBD. And they urge governments to bear their conclusions in mind when considering regulation.

CBD is thought to  have a 100-fold lower affinity than THC in binding with key cannabinoid receptors in the brain and so is reported not to have activity that is addictive. Regulation remains controversial, however. It is uncontrolled in some jurisdictions. But in important markets such as the US, its status as a cannabis derivative leaves it as a controlled substance.

This could hamper research into the beneficial effects of CBD in a variety of disorders such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, and also in other potential uses such as improving cognition, as an antidepressant, and even to promote smoking cessation.

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Marc Beishon

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