The World Health Organization Says That Medicinal Cannabis Has No Abuse Potential

Photographed by Rachel Cabitt.

Despite concerns from some that marijuana — even medical marijuana — could be a "gateway" to harder drugs, it seems that health experts aren't too worried.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report Wednesday specifically stating that cannabidiol (also known as CBD), a component in medical marijuana, does not have a risk for abuse.

"Current evidence shows that cannabidiol is not likely to be abused or create dependence as for other cannabinoids (such as Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC), for instance)," the report states.

The WHO was looking into CBD due to "increased interest" in using marijuana in medical care, and especially palliative care, or care for people who have life-threatening illnesses, BuzzFeed reports. "In general, clinical studies have reported that even high doses of oral CBD do not cause those effects [addiction or potential for abuse] that are characteristic for THC and for cannabis rich in THC," said the report. CBD had also been found to have "relatively low toxicity."

The majority of the effects of marijuana can be nailed down to two compounds: CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects that make you feel high. CBD, on it's own, doesn't cause those same effects. Since this report speaks only about the potential for abuse and dependance of CBD, this doesn't mean that there's no possibility of ever getting addicted to marijuana, and other experts have actually spoken about addiction as a possible effect.

"It’s very difficult to pin down the probability of addiction, because so many things determine it, but...somewhere around nine to 10% of regular users of marijuana will become dependent," David Casarett, MD, author of Stoned: A Doctor's Case For Medical Marijuana, told Refinery29 in 2015. "That's compared to between 13 and 15% of [regular users] becoming dependent on other drugs, like cocaine."

For now, the WHO suggests that CBD could be useful in treating medical conditions and recommends that it not be regulated by the government.

Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws.

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