The Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) in the U.S. Opioid Crisis

The Centers of Disease Control reports that an average of 115 people die everyday in the United States as the result of an opioid related cause. Over 33,000 people died in the U.S. in 2015 alone.

These alarming statistics are, unfortunately, not surprising as the epidemic is growing more every single day. With limited options to help patients, healthcare providers are under more pressure than ever to find answers. In the publication titled “Emerging Evidence for Cannabis Role in Opioid Use Disorder” written by Beth Weise & Adrianne Wilson-Poe (Washington University School of Medicine – St. Louis, MO), the overall potential of Cannabis and its ingredients were explored in their roles in pain management. The article was published in Cannabis & Cannabinoid Research Journal in 2018.

Specifically, in regard to Cannabidiol (CBD), the data suggests that CBD can play a critical role in opioid management and potential taper.

Pilot Clinical Studies have shown that in individuals recently abstinent from heroin, CBD reduces heroin craving… Adjunct CBD appears to be safe and tolerable, as 400 and 800 mg oral CBD administration does not intensify the effects of IV fentanyl or create any adverse effects. Because CBD is neither intoxicating nor rewarding and has an extremely large therapeutic window and safety profile, the use of CBD to inhibit opioid craving has great therapeutic potential.

The article discusses a detailed receptor breakdown and exactly which receptors that cannabinoids act on to help taper down the opioid dose, ideally until it is no longer needed. Canabinoid-1 (CB1) receptors and mu opioid receptors (MOR) tend to share many areas in the brain, and therefore there can be some cross activity.

Medical users have turned to cultivars higher in CBD and lower in THC in an attempt to optimize the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Although misuse potential is a valid concern, it is notable that the misuse liability of cannabis is very low.

The data behind the therapeutic potential of CBD is accumulating to span over various therapeutic areas, however, in the instance of opioid use – answers are needed as soon as possible. The article advises that concurrent administration of CBD along with opioids with a slow taper schedule could benefit patients greatly without the withdrawal risks and eventual need for opioids.

To access the full article, please visit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6135562/pdf/can.2018.0022.pdf