Oral cannabidiol does not produce a signal for abuse liability in frequent marijuana smokers

Shanna Babalonis, Margaret Haney, Robert J. Malcolm, Michelle R. Lofwall, Victoria R. Votaw, Steven Sparenborg, Sharon L. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Background Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of the marijuana plant. In the past few years, there has been great interest in the therapeutic effects of isolated CBD and it is currently being explored for numerous disease conditions (e.g., pain, epilepsy, cancer, various drug dependencies). However, CBD remains a Schedule I drug on the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Despite its status, there are no well-controlled data available regarding its abuse liability. Methods Healthy, frequent marijuana users (n = 31) were enrolled in this within subject, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multisite study that administered oral cannabidiol (0, 200, 400, 800 mg) alone and in combination with smoked marijuana (0.01%, 5.3–5.8% THC). Participants received one dose combination across 8 once-weekly outpatient sessions (7.5 h). The primary findings on the drug interaction effects were previously reported (Haney et al., 2016). The present study is a secondary analysis of the data to examine the abuse liability profile of oral cannabidiol (200, 400, 800 mg) in comparison to oral placebo and active smoked marijuana (5.3–5.8% THC). Results Active marijuana reliably produced abuse-related subjective effects (e.g., high) (p < 0.05). However, CBD was placebo-like on all measures collected (p > 0.05). Conclusions Overall, CBD did not display any signals of abuse liability at the doses tested and these data may help inform U.S. regulatory decisions regarding CBD schedule on the CSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-13
Number of pages5
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd


  • Abuse liability
  • CBD
  • Cannabidiol
  • Human
  • Smoked marijuana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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