WHO Declares Medical Marijuana Ingredient Safe and Non-Addictive

The World Health Organization has released new findings stating that a key ingredient in cannabis is safe and should be available on the market.

In a pre-review report released in November — but only picked up by the press last week — the WHO examines cannabidiol. This compound occurs naturally in marijuana plants, but unlike THC, cannabidiol doesn’t produce the “high” often associated with the plant. For that reason, it has no addictive properties and does not present the risks associated with altered mental states.

The WHO report notes CBD’s uses, as well as the reasons why the compound is unlikely to be misused:

In experimental models of abuse liability, CBD appears to have little effect on conditioned place preference or intracranial self-stimulation. In an animal drug discrimination model CBD failed to substitute for THC.

In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. CBD has been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy in several clinical trials, with one pure CBD product (Epidiolex®) currently in Phase III trials. There is also preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions.

The report also states that while unsanctioned use of CBD exists — in the form of oils and other preparations, for example — tolerance for sanctioned CBD is generally good.

Why is the World Health Organization interested in CBD?

Due to the newly revived War on Drugs, marijuana is classified as having no medical worth. Even CBD extracts fall under the Schedule 1 drug classification because the FDA fails to distinguish between cannabinoids. This categorization means that the federal government believes the drug to have the highest possibility of abuse without any recognizable public benefits to legalization. 

Jeff Sessions has made it clear that, despite the Obama administration softening rules on medical marijuana, the Trump administration will enforce those policies strictly — and will likely attempt to end medical marijuana laws in states like Colorado

But this stance could be immensely damaging to public health.

Multiple studies suggest that cannabinoids have promise for reducing seizures in patients with certain types of epilepsy, not to mention its wider pain relief effects, among other applications. While some of marijuana’s ascribed benefits are not proven — and possibly overstated — the process for obtaining a license for medical testing remains exceedingly difficult, given that the federal government deems marijuana to have no therapeutic benefits

And that means a lack of hard evidence that could examine the true potential of CBD and other marijuana-derived treatments.

This is not an endorsement

To be clear, though, the committee is not endorsing medical marijuana or CBD legalization — at least, not yet.

As Newsweek highlights:

In emails to Newsweek, spokespeople for the WHO clarified that the report very clearly “does not say that WHO recommends the use of cannabidiol.” What the WHO recommends ”is that cannabidiol should not be scheduled for international control on the basis of current evidence, and that a fuller review will be carried out next year, when other cannabinoids are discussed.”

This statement, therefore, confines itself to highlighting the general safety of CBD-containing, evidence-based treatments.

That said, the World Health Organization certainly appears to be empowering nations that wish to explore CBD as a treatment. The WHO doesn’t technically have the power to dictate national policy on an individual basis, but its positions are highly regarded due to the level of scientific rigor and medical expertise that informs the group’s policy recommendations.

The weight of this announcement suggests that more resounding support for decriminalization may emerge after a scientists conduct a full review of cannabinoids next year. And given that cannabis contains over 113 active cannabinoids, that review could be wide-ranging. 

In the meantime, will these findings translate to policy change? For the foreseeable future, it’s unlikely that the Trump administration will change its mind on marijuana-derived treatments. However, several nations in the EU and the UK may consider this latest position in their policy decisions. And for that reason, the WHO’s study should be received as an interesting — and arguably long overdue — development.

Photo Credit: Esteban Lopez/Unsplash

34 comments

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Angela G
Angela G8 months ago

based on data and science

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Ann B
Ann B11 months ago

this was a mistake from the beginning now that it is readily available--we have all the pot heads behind the wheel!!! just get on a bus in Denver and look

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janis keller
janis keller11 months ago

I take CBD oil for chronic pain and it helps. It also helps my anxiety disorder. I wouldn't want to be without it

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Mary B
Mary B11 months ago

This info is rather old and not accurate . As I've said before I've recently watched a series of documentaries call the Sacred Plant that is more up to date due to research coming out of Israel and Spain .Our body's have receptors sites on our cells for all the cannibanoids. It is a MAJOR healer and those who are still saying otherwise are still stuck in a time warp called Refer Madness.

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Just Human
Just Human11 months ago

CBD has worked miracles for my insomnia. I tried the sleeping pills the doctor prescribed. They made me feel like a zombie the next day. CBD helps me fall asleep, get deep sleep, and I don't feel groggy in the morning. Three cheers for Mother Nature!

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Muff-Anne Y

There needs to be some guidelines.

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Loredana V
Loredana V11 months ago

About time to declare what everybody knows :)

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Elaine W
Elaine W11 months ago

Who is this smart ;)

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Janis K
Janis K11 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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