Researching Marijuana for Therapeutic Purposes: The Potential Promise of Cannabidiol (CBD)

Photo Credit: NIDA

Photo Credit: NIDA

Recently, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Nora Volkow testified in front of the Senate on behalf of expanding research on cannabidiol (CBD). Volkow discussed the way cannabinoids interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body, and how CBD differs because it has little effect on these receptors. Instead, CBD relies on several other signaling systems, including the serotonin receptor. This is why the cannabinoid has the ability to offer therapeutic value without psychoactive effects.

In a blog feature written by Volkow, she talks about how CBD can be implemented in our medical future as part of reproduced pharmaceuticals, but not as a whole-plant therapy. "In marijuana's case, future medicinal uses will most likely lie in drugs based on cannabinoid chemicals or extracts with defined concentrations that can be reliably produced. There are very few precedents for a whole plant being approved as a drug... This is because creating a standardized plant medicine poses major difficulties -- especially in a case like marijuana where there are countless, widely varying strains and large numbers of chemical components which little is yet known. Marijuana has over 500 chemicals in total, including the 100 or so cannabinoids, so we will still be learning about this plant for years to come."

Volkow says it's too soon to say who will benefit from CBD and how the cannabinoid will be effective due to the lack of existing data, but she pleads for research to be conducted as soon as possible. Those that could benefit from the medication should not have to wait any longer. Volkow concludes, "CBD appears to be a safe drug with no addictive effects, and the preliminary data suggest that it may have therapeutic value for a number of medical conditions." To read more about CBD from the perspective of NIDA director Volkow, read this feature she wrote for the Huffington Post: http://huff.to/1DcPIUh