Does Science Favour More CBD than Marijuana as a Therapy for Anxiety?

The scientific community seems to put more hopes in CBD than in THC, when it comes to anxiety.
Luca Marani
Written by Luca Marani, Cannabis Educator
Last Updated
CBD for anxiety

Researchers have been investigating a multitude of uses for medical marijuana in the last ten years. The psychoactive effects caused by smoking or ingesting cannabis are due to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive effects. THC is not a completely harmless substance, and long-term or daily consumption have various proven potential side-effects.

A gradual shift of perspective

Recently, the scientific community has started looking attentively at how cannabis could benefit those who suffer from anxiety, and it widely agreed upon that short-term benefits are indeed tangible. State-level legalization in the US, both medical and recreational, has made it possible for many anxiety patients to start exploring the possible aids that cannabis can bring to their anxiety disorders. And this phenomenon is growing, thanks to the fact that these people, who would have never risked their freedom or criminal record over ´trying to get high´, are now able to experiment with cannabis in a legally safe space, guided by someone who has the competence and experience to assist them in their choice of product.

A group of researchers from Washington State University published an article in the Journal of Affective Disorders, which documented how smoking cannabis can reduce self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, in the short term, by a relevant amount. However, chronic use doesn’t result connected to long-term reduction of symptoms; it has even been found that, in some subjects, repeated use may actually end up increasing depression.

The article continued to note that the main issue with cannabis use, as a means of dealing with anxiety issues, is the risk of psychological dependence connected to it. CBD, on the other end, does not have the same psychoactive effects as THC. According to the authors, “there is some beginning evidence” pointing out to the potential that CBD has for the treatment of anxiety and addiction. However, “at this point, there are very few studies that have resulted in conclusive findings on the therapeutic effects of CBD.” Still, although the scientific community still largely disagrees upon the matter, the call for more research is pretty much unanimous.

Why CBD and not THC?

There is pretty wide acceptance of the evidence pointing out to the fact that chronic and/or intense use of cannabis could yield anxiogenic rather than anxiolytic effects. Even, to some degree, among the heavier-using sectors of the cannabis community. However, given CBD’s antipsychotic properties (which tend to contrast the effects of THC, for example), this cannabinoid is attracting more interest within the scientific community. Cannabidiol has no psychoactive effects, very little potential for abuse and ultimately pertains to our endocannabinoid system. Moreover, it has much less addictive potential than its main companion, THC. All in all, CBD seems to have the right cards to be a safer medication for anxiety than much of what is currently available within any national healthcare system.

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Luca Marani
Luca Marani
Cannabis Educator
Luca Marani is an educator and content creator from Italy. He graduated in 2017 from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, with a Master of Arts in Political Philosophy, writing a dissertation on what was the state of the medical cannabis legislative framework in Spain at the time, and how it affected the rights of the Spanish medical cannabis users community to dignity and quality of life.

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