Amid speculation on whether cannabidiol (CBD) can influence the intoxicating effects of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a new study supports this idea, along with another unexpected and interesting finding related to a serious mental health disorder. Published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in September 2021, researchers concluded that CBD could lessen the psychoactive effects of THC when taken together. 1
The study found that consuming 65mg of THC was less intoxicating when combined with CBD in a 2:1 ratio than when taken alone, suggesting that CBD places a ceiling on some of the effects of THC. This is especially relevant for medical cannabis patients, who may need to medicate around the clock and for anyone who does not want the high for whatever reason.
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Conducted in Spain, the study was a collaborative effort between researchers Jose’ Bouso, PhD from the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service, and Alberto Sainz-Cort, MSc from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and GH Medical, among several other distinguished authors.
Their aim was to explore whether CBD had anti-intoxicating effects. CBD is often referred to as non-psychoactive, but it is indeed because it can affect mood and relieve anxiety. However, it is not psychoactive in the way most people think of, in the sense that it does not cause intoxication or the feeling of being high.
In order to participate, all subjects had to be over the age of 21 and be experienced cannabis users, consuming at least three times per week. Participants also had to be free of psychiatric or chronic disease, understand the study protocol, and agree to abstain from cannabis, alcohol, and other drugs for at least 12 hours prior to the study. These conditions are aimed to control any factors that might influence the results, also known as confounding variables.
The strength of a research study lies in its design. Most studies are conducted in a laboratory setting with rigid controls aimed at yielding verifiable, reproducible, and most importantly to the average reader, trustworthy results. Just as effective and sometimes more appropriate, are ecological studies in which the study subjects participate in a more natural environment to enhance any positive influences of their surroundings.
When doing research, a natural environment also helps to eliminate any negative influences of a tightly controlled laboratory setting, such as a subject being less forthcoming. Subjects in a naturalistic study may have a more authentic experience and response, as the natural environment mimics the real-life experience. As this was a crossover study, each subject’s results were not compared to anyone else, reducing the potential and influence of any confounding variables.
The study was set up such that each subject participated in a total of four individual sessions during which they were given a precise dose of cannabis concentrate via a Volcano vaporizer made by Storz & Bickel. The participant received either CBD, THC, THC+CBD or a placebo and was assessed every 10 minutes for psychoactive effects of the cannabis. Neither the researchers nor the subjects knew which substance was being self-administered (double-blinded). Subjects completed questionnaires measuring symptoms such as relaxation, negative mood or perception and appetite at specific intervals throughout each 80-minute session. Each session was separated by at least a week as a “wash-out period” for any substances in the body to minimize any carry-over to the next session.
The dose consumed during the sessions were as follows: CBD 130 mg, THC 65 mg, CBD 130 mg + THC 65 mg combined (2:1 ratio CBD:THC) and a hemp placebo