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  • Is CBD Safe? Here’s What the World Health Organization Has to Say…

Is CBD Safe? Here’s What the World Health Organization Has to Say…

Green Shoppers Written by Green Shoppers
Updated on November 7, 2018

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is an international body concerned with public health. As an agency of the United Nations, it is pretty much the leading authority on everything to do with public health, which is why people look to it for advice and safety information on a range of things.

WHO’s mission statement is to “build a better, healthier future for people all over the world.” They aim to combat disease and control public health concerns. This is, as you can imagine, an enormous task, which is why the organisation is so important.

The World Health Organisation’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) is an independent group of experts in the field of drugs and medicines. They meet every so often to discuss certain issues, and one of the recent topics of conversation has been cannabidiol (CBD).

In November 2017, the ECDD met in Geneva to discuss the Schedule 1 classification of CBD and whether this remains appropriate. In case you were wondering, Schedule 1 refers to drugs that have a high abuse potential and no medical benefits. CBD is garnering a lot of attention, with many people – both clued up civilians and experts in the field – suggesting that this classification is wrong. But what did the WHO actually say about it?

First Things First: What is CBD?

You might know this information already, but you might also be completely in the dark about what CBD is and why people are taking it. CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is one of the active chemical compounds (called cannabinoids) in the cannabis plant. When people hear ‘cannabis’, they often panic, as this plant has a very infamous reputation.

However, CBD is just one of the compounds in the plant, and it is not the one that makes you high. Recreational marijuana users don’t smoke the plant for its CBD, they do it to get a hit of THC, which has psychoactive properties.

With its lack of intoxicating effects, CBD has been growing in both fame and popularity. Although it is fairly understudied, research is ongoing into potential health benefits that CBD may possess. People are currently taking CBD as a health supplement – a superfood of sorts. This is because it can interact with our body in a positive way to stimulate a healthy, functioning organism, allowing you to promote general wellbeing and maintain homeostasis. At least, that’s what supporters of the compound claim.

There is a whole other school of thought that suggests CBD must be a drug, and it should remain illegal based solely on the fact that it comes from cannabis. As you probably already know, cannabis is illegal in the UK, and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

But if CBD doesn’t actually get you high, then why should it be dragged down by the notoriety of marijuana? If it really can help you stay healthy, then why should it be classified as a Schedule 1 drug?

Here’s what the WHO had to say…

CBD is Not Toxic

The review of CBD that the WHO published is quite a lengthy document. After identifying the substance and covering its chemical makeup, we finally get into the good stuff.

In terms of toxicology, they found that CBD has quite a low toxicity. They do mention that not all potential effects have been explored, but they state that it seems to have no effect on embryonic development, no effect on a wide range of physiological and biochemical parameters, and there are no significant effects on animal behaviour except in extremely high doses (in excess of 150 mg/kg in vitro or in excess of 30 mg/kg every day for 90 days in monkeys).

There is a note that it may have some less desirable interactions with some drugs in that it affects production of some liver enzymes, but the WHO is so far unclear on the extent of this.

In short, CBD is very unlikely to have any toxic effects, essentially meaning that it is safe for human consumption. In the section on adverse reactions in humans, the WHO states that it is generally well tolerated by humans, and it has a good safety profile.

CBD Has No Dependence or Abuse Potential

In an animal study on male mice, the subjects were injected with either 0.1, 1, or 3 mg/kg of CBD, or 1, 3, or 10 mg/kg of THC every day for 14 days. The researchers noticed that the mice built up a tolerance to the THC, but no tolerance was built up to CBD at any of the dosages.

It is worth noting that no studies were done on the physical dependence potential of CBD, either in humans or animals. That said, human studies have noted that withdrawal and tolerance of CBD have never been reported.

With regards for its potential for abuse, the WHO have ruled that CBD does not have potential for abuse. In an animal study, male rats were given 5 mg/kg of CBD, and this did not change the threshold frequency required for intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS). However, a high dose of either 10 mg/kg or 20 mg/kg elevated the threshold of diminished reward activity. This effect is the opposite of what happens with cocaine methamphetamine and opioids, which lower this threshold. This suggests that CBD is unlike drugs with abuse potential, and the researchers also found that it does not behave like THC at any dose.

Human studies on the matter are more limited, but so far it indicates that there is still no abuse potential. A study found that oral CBD alone did not produce any significant psychoactive, cardiovascular or other effects, meaning that it does not stimulate the body in a way that could lead to abuse.

The Final Verdict?

From the above information, it’s easy to see that the WHO have labelled CBD as safe, putting rumours to rest once and for all that it is a dangerous drug. It does not have abuse potential and it does not cause harm, and thus, they have declared that it is not a schedules substance at all.

Basically, this means that CBD is only a Schedule 1 substance when it is a component of cannabis. CBD alone is unscheduled, meaning that it is not subject to international controls. Instead, it is up to each individual government to decide whether it is legal or not. In case you were wondering, CBD oil is legal to purchase in the UK as long as it comes from industrial hemp and as long as it contains less than 0.02% THC.

Furthermore, the WHO does not recommend cannabidiol for medical use. They feel that more studies and research is required into the purported benefits of CBD oil, despite deeming it safe to take as a supplement.

The jury might still be out on some things to do with cannabis and CBD. The WHO planned to carry out a full review of extracts containing exclusively CBD in June 2018, and the results of this have not yet been published. We will await these results with bated breath.

For now, it’s apparent that CBD really is safe to take. With the WHO being such a huge international authority, it’s hard to ignore this review and their statements that it is well-tolerated and does not have potential for abuse. So when you see a CBD product on the shelves, there’s no need to panic – it’s perfectly safe!

  • http://www.who.int/features/qa/cannabidiol/en/