Effects, addiction, regulation: all you need to know about CBD

While for several years, the debate on the legalization of cannabis has been raging in France, a molecule is appearing more and more in the public debate: CBD. Renowned for centuries for its therapeutic virtues on humans and animals, what do we really know about its effects on health? Of its addictive power? And what regulations in France? Sciences and the Future answers your questions about CBD with the help of two experts.

1. What is CBD and how is it different from THC?

CBD is the abbreviation for the cannabidiol molecule “, explains Nicolas Marie, researcher in the Pharmacology and addiction therapy laboratory (CNRS). This molecule, called phytocannabinoids (activating cannabinoid receptors present in the brain), comes from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa), also called hemp or Indian hemp.Within cannabis we therefore find CBD, as well as many other phytocannabinoids (around 200, according to the WHO), such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)“, explains Stéphanie Caille-Garnier, researcher at the Institute of Cognitive and Integrative Neurosciences of Aquitaine (CNRS).

What differs between CBD and THC is that the former does not cause psychoactive effects. (altering mental processes, such as cognitive functions or affect, editor’s note), unlike the second “, distinguishes Nicolas Marie. Indeed, THC is the main euphoric psychoactive product, which is why it is the subject of excessive consumption in humans. CBD, meanwhile, is currently not recognized as causing psychotropic effects, even if this is currently the subject of much research, recalls the researcher.

2. What is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?

A cannabidiol oil will certainly have undergone targeted extractions to concentrate the oil specifically with this CBD molecule, while a hemp oil will contain more constituents present in the plant in its natural state.“, explains the neuroscientist.

Besides oil, the CBD molecule is found in other forms, such as capsules, sprays, drinkable solutions, creams, flowers, etc. Its concentration varies on average from 5% to 30%. There is, however, no strictly established concentration or dosage, the recommendations suggest adapting the intake of CBD according to the symptoms treated as well as other criteria, such as weight, sex and personal feelings of the patient. consumer.

3. What are the health effects of CBD? Are there any contraindications?

According to Stéphanie Caille-Garnier, “CBD impacts many brain functions and the behaviors associated with those functions. This makes it an exceptional candidate for the treatment of several psychiatric disorders such as psychosis, addiction, anxiety and autism disorders, or even sleep disorders. Not to mention that CBD also has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.“.

CBD has also been tested on several pathologies, such as certain forms of epilepsy, on which it would have beneficial effects.. This is also the case for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, however additional studies would be necessary.“, specifies the addiction therapy researcher. “In addition, this molecule would not be subject to potential contraindications“, he adds. Indeed, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence has concluded that, in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to present any risk of abuse, nor to be harmful. For health, however, it would seem more prudent to pay attention to the risks of allergy and the potential side effects which are still poorly understood.

4. Can CBD be addictive?

Unlike THC, CBD is not considered a drug. Besides, “cannabidiol is not classified in the 1971 list of narcotics, it is not euphoric and with the hindsight that we have for the moment, it does not seem to generate physical dependence“, emphasizes Stéphanie Caille-Garnier.

5. Can smoking CBD help quit smoking cannabis?

You would think that CBD would be to cannabis smokers what electronic cigarettes are to tobacco smokers, that is, a way to gradually quit. Fact, “the use of CBD for the treatment of dependence on various substances of abuse is an avenue actively explored. The hypothesis of the use of CBD for withdrawal from cannabis (THC) is part of ongoing clinical trials, this is what a study published in The Lancet in 2020 shows. The advantage of CBD as a treatment addiction, it is its ability to improve important symptoms related to the release of addiction, such as anxiety, for example, highlights the researcher.

6. What are the French regulations on CBD?

The ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), disclosed on November 19, 2020, ruled that France, as a member state, could not prohibit the marketing of cannabidiol (CBD) knowing that it was legally produced in another Member State and when it was extracted from the cannabis sativa plant in its entirety, and not from its fibers and seeds alone. In fact, in 2021, France authorized the sale of CBD products with a limit rate of 0.2% THC. As these standards are binding on manufacturers, the limit may drop to 0.3% by 2023. However, cannabidiol in the form of smoking flowers raises questions as to its assimilation to cannabis containing THC, as well. than its mixture with tobacco. It is therefore quite possible that France is adjusting the regulations regarding the form in which this cannabinoid is sold.

Thus, CBD seems promising to soothe various psychoses and help treat certain other diseases, however further studies are needed to verify its effectiveness and potential side effects.

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