Marijuana Derivative Cannabidiol (CBD) Could Treat Epilepsy And Is Unlikely To Be Addictive, Says The WHO


The Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) met last month to review psychoactive substances (including new synthetics) and make recommendations about their safety. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced their endorsement of certain recommendations resulting from that meeting. Cannabidiol (CBD) — a marijuana derivative which does not seem to have the intoxicating effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — was among the substances about which the WHO released new recommendations:

Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that [CBD’s] use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions. Current evidence also shows that cannabidiol is not likely to be abused or create dependence as for other cannabinoids (such as Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC), for instance). The ECDD therefore concluded that current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol and postponed a fuller review of cannabidiol preparations to May 2018, when the committee will undertake a comprehensive review of cannabis and cannabis related substances.

To clarify, “does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol” means the ECDD doesn’t recommend classifying CBD as illegal (Schedule I), or as a legal but highly regulated narcotic (Schedule II), or as an otherwise controlled substance (Schedules III, IV, and V). Examples of drugs that are Schedules I-V would be — from most regulated to least — heroin (Schedule I), Oxycontin (Schedule II), Tylenol 3 [acetaminophen and codeine] (Schedule III), Xanax (Schedule IV), and most codeine-containing cough syrups (Schedule V). In other words, the ECDD recommended regulating CBD less stringently than codeine cough syrup (R.I.P., Pimp C), but they’re going to review it more thoroughly this May.

As for using CBD as a treatment for seizures, it’s been known for nearly a year that CBD reduced seizures in a well-publicized study, but the ECDD usually meets once a year in November, so this was their first chance to review that study and the WHO’s first chance to endorse their recommendation.

The WHO also endorsed the ECDD’s recommendations regarding several analogues of the prescription opioid fentanyl, including carfentanil, acryloylfentanyl, fluoroisobutyrfentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, ocfentanil, and tetrahydrofuranyl fentanyl. All of these were recommended for placement on Schedule I (no legal use) due to their extremely high overdose risk and — in the WHO’s words — their “potential use as a chemical weapon.” Carfentanil, for example, has been used as an elephant tranquilizer, but it’s increasingly been used illicitly (usually in combination with heroin) even though an amount of carfentanil roughly the size of a few grains of salt can kill a human.

Speaking of marijuana derivatives and opioids, it’s worth noting a few things. Opioid deaths dropped in Colorado after marijuana was legalized, the use of medical marijuana has known benefits both to health and to the economy (it could reportedly save Medicare $1 billion per year), and even the majority of Republicans now support legalization. So what are we waiting for?

Full disclosure: the author of this post is a Certified Pharmacy Technician, but he did not receive any marijuana derivatives in exchange for this post. Oh, he asked for them, but our accountant said he’s getting his payment by check, as usual. Damn.

(Via the WHO)