Current Affairs

Is UK CBD oil addictive?

Tom Duggins October 18, 2018
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If addictive, the UK’s CDB oil could raise further questions for those unsure about its legalisation, so is there cause for concern?

In a remarkable example of how quickly attitudes can change when it comes to political decision-making, last week the Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared that CBD oil would soon be made available for medical use in the UK.

As of the November 1, the cannabis-derived product will be available for clinicians to prescribe to those with specific chronic health conditions. This comes only months after the Home Office made the historic decision to allow Hannah Deacon, whose son has severe epilepsy, a special licence to bring the substance over from the Netherlands where it can be produced legally.

The Home Office had also taken the unusual step of returning CBD oil to the family of Billy Caldwell, another severe epilepsy sufferer, after it had initially been seized from them in Heathrow Airport. Billy’s mother, Charlotte, had travelled to Canada in June in order to purchase the oil, which helps to dramatically reduce the frequency of Billy’s seizures.

Once it had been established that denying the CBD oil to Billy was potentially life-threatening, the government made a very swift reversal of previous policy. Now that the law is being changed around this much-debated issue, the possibility of CBD oil being used to treat other health conditions is also being discussed—but is there any chance that CBD oil is addictive? And does the substance carry any unwanted side effects?

Is CDB oil addictive?


In November 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a comprehensive report which examined cannabidiol (CDB) and the likelihood that the substance would create drug dependence.

They found no evidence that CDB is addictive, and the report states that: “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”

The report’s summary also makes it clear that: “To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

This is good news for campaigners who wish to see greater research done into its possible medicinal properties: an area of study which has been limited in the UK due to the historic illegality of the cannabis plant from which CDB is derived. Pure CDB oil is distinct from recreational cannabis, and understanding the difference between the two is crucial in understanding its medicinal potential.

How is CDB oil different from cannabis?

Unlike the strains of cannabis which are smoked or consumed recreationally, cannabidiol (CDB) is non-intoxicating: it will not make you feel ‘high.’

This is because CDB oil contains negligible amounts of THC, which is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis which causes sensations such as lethargy and a heightened appreciation of music and colours.

Whilst THC-laden recreational cannabis is known to carry a risk of psychological addiction, especially among habitual users and those who first use the drug in their teens, there is no evidence to suggest the use of CDB oil would carry such a risk. The WHO’s report helps to highlight the safety of the substance, marking it off from recreational cannabis which also contains CDB, but is known to have undesirable side-effects such as anxiety and hallucinations.

In fact, some research has been done into whether CBD possesses anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic properties, to go alongside the known anti-convulsive effects which make it so effective in treating conditions such as epilepsy.

Does CDB have any side effects?

A 2017 study initiated by the European Industrial Hemp Association found that the most common side effects of CDB were “tiredness, diarrhea, and changes of appetite/weight.”

As pointed out in their report: “In comparison with other drugs, used for the treatment of [epilepsy and psychotic disorders], CBD has a better side effect profile.”

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