World Health Organization pre-reviews CBD

In a landmark publication by the World Health Organization, cannabidiol, known to most as CBD, gets a huge stamp of approval.  Or at least a stamp of public health safety.  The preliminary report was drafted at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland last November.  The WHO explicitly states: “in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”  Furthermore, they state: “to date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

WHO CBD Report
The World Health Organization, founded in 1948, is a faction of the United Nations focusing on public health.


These findings are tantamount to the bourgeoning industry and field of research.  The report comes as a recommendation from the WHO’s Expert Committee of Drug Dependence under the responsibility of the WHO Secretariat, Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products, Teams of Innovation, Access and Use and Policy, Governance and Knowledge.  The report highlights two CBD drugs that are in development:  Epidiolex® and Arvisol®.  These drugs, for epilepsy and schizophrenia respectively are both in testing.  The former, from GW Pharmaceuticals is now is Phase III testing, while the latter by Echo Pharmaceuticals is still in Phase I.  The push for these drugs is spurred by the mounting research in both human and animal subjects regarding the therapeutic value of CBD.  Particularly CBD’s efficacy in treatment of epilepsy, specifically for the Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes “which are both treatment resistant seizure disorders.”

Since the report, Epidolex has received unanimous recommendation for approval from an F.D.A. panel.

WHO CBD Report
From the pre-review WHO CBD report: the CBD molecule.

US and five other countries already addressing CBD

While the United States bares a bad reputation when it comes to liberal drug policy, the report notes the US’s CBD allowances.  Most notably, the FDA granted  GW Pharmaceuticals “fast track designation for intravenous CBD to treat Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy.”  NHIE is a condition that arrises during birth, in which complications lead to insufficient oxygen levels in the newborn.  Currently, there are no other drugs on the market aiding in the rehabilitation of this condition.  In addition, the WHO highlights the 2015 permissions given by the DEA, allowing for research into CBD as novel treatments.  Since this green light, hundreds of studies have sprung up.

Conversely, while the US’s permissive nature of CBD is strictly conditional, “several countries have modified their national controls to accommodate CBD as a medicinal product.” The UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Switzerland all have separate scheduling for CBD. The report mentions many current medicinal CBD treatments are self administered or “unsanctioned” and procured through online retailers.

WHO CBD Report
Despite the research, the majority of CBD treatments are “unsanctioned” via self-medication and ecommerce.

WHO gives CBD “good safety profile”

The World Health Organization continues in their pre-review to highlight the safety profiles of CBD. The WHO states: “[CBD] is well-tolerated” by most users.  Those experiencing negative side effects, the report finds, often come as “a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”

Continuing with safety profiles, the report notes CBD’s unique pharmacology is a large reason CBD use does not develop into dependency. The report chiefly sites double-blind studies with groups taking high doses of CBD (600mg) versus low doses of THC (10mg).  The findings: for THC seeking users, CBD did not provide the desired outcome.  In fact, CBD at high doses increases the reward threshold for “intracranial self-stimulation,” decreasing the pleasure of dopamine stimulating substances.  The opposite of which is true for addictive substances like cocaine.  As such, CBD is being studied as a means of treating addiction, the report mentions.

WHO CBD Report
The 2017 pre-review WHO CBD report includes their table of therapeutic profiles of CBD.

WHO CBD Report Explains Therapeutic Profile

CBD would not be getting so much attention if it did not exhibit such promising qualities in clinical trials.  The report notes CBD interacting with the TRPV1, 5HT1a, GRP55, and adenosine receptors.  Additionally, the report discusses CBD’s roll in increasing anandamide levels.   The report lists the competition for CB1 with anandamide as a potential reason CBD can mediate THC’s psychoactive effects.

After the meeting, the WHO sent an official request to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres.  The request: carry out an extensive review of CBD at the next meeting.  On December 14 of 2017, the WHO states outright that CBD deserves its own drug scheduling apart for that of a cannabis extract. The discussion by the United Nations remains to take place and in June of this year, the WHO will meet again to further review CBD.  Considering the current recommendation and the affirming research, we can hope for more positive progress.



2 thoughts on “World Health Organization: “No Public Health Risks, No Abuse Potential for CBD”

  1. Juliane Popelka says:

    Looks like they go from Feb-Oct all around the world depending where you’re at. I’d look online when a White Night near you is taking place next. We are happy to help stock you up when it comes time to!

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