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An In-Depth Look at the World Health Organization’s Stance on the Safety of CBD

In November of 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded in a meeting with the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) that CBD, a single compound of the cannabis plant, is not a threat as a potentially abusive substance or a substance that could cause harm in its pure state. Because of this conclusion, in December of 2017, the WHO officially recommended that CBD should not be included as a scheduled controlled substance internationally.

Why CBD Is Not Considered a Potentially Abusive Substance

One of the reasons CBD has been included in history as part of the controlled substance list in the U.S. has primarily been because of its association with cannabis, even though this derivative does not have anything to do with THC. The WHO states verbatim in the review of cannabidiol in June 2018:

“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”

There have been numerous studies to support this conclusion, both on animals and humans. Even more telling, there have been a total of 14 studies published that have found CBD could actually be effectively therapeutic for people who are already suffering from a substance abuse problem, according to a review published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

Why CBD Is Not Considered Harmful Beyond Lacking Addictive Risks

There are multiple reasons why CBD is considered safe for humans, and this is one of the main things that have been explored about CBD in different studies. The WHO is considering things like toxicology of CBD and studies that were geared toward adverse reactions. As far as toxicology is concerned, even though not every possible side effect has been explored, many of them have, and CBD has been found to have relatively low toxicity levels overall and very few adverse reactions.

The WHO’s Stance on CBD as Medicine

Since the WHO has deemed CBD as unharmful in most ways, it is assumed they must also back the use of CBD as medicine. However, the primary research on CBD as medicine has been done with clinical trials on patients with some level or type of epilepsy. These studies have proven to be highly successful. For example, 171 patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome ( a form of epilepsy) were given CBD as part of their treatment in a large-scale clinical trial, and seizure frequency dropped by 43.9%. There is evidence that CBD could help with many illnesses because of its many therapeutic properties, such as:

  • an analgesic for chronic pain
  • an anti-inflammatory for arthritis
  • an antipsychotic for various psychological issues

Yet, formal research on CBD for other ailments and medical issues are not yet as concrete as with epilepsy, so before the WHO will fully recognize CBD as an essential medicine, more scientific proof and thorough research is necessary.






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