Subjects who consume cannabis flowers containing nearly equal percentages of THC and CBD are less likely to report experiencing either anxiety or other adverse effects, according to data published in the journal Addiction Biology.

A team of investigators associated with the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus examined the subjective effects associated with the inhalation of cannabis flowers containing various THC/CBD ratios. Subjects in the study were randomly assigned to inhale either THC-dominant flowers (24 percent THC and one percent CBD), CBD-dominant flowers (23 percent CBD and one percent THC), or flowers containing nearly equal ratios of THC and CBD (10 percent THC and nine percent CBD). Participants inhaled cannabis ad libitum and described the effects one hour later. 

Participants who consumed THC-dominant flowers and those who consumed samples containing equal percentages of THC and CBD both reported experiencing similar positive effects following marijuana smoking. However, those subjects who consumed samples with both THC and CBD were less likely to report experiencing any negative effects, such as feelings of anxiety and paranoia. 

Authors reported: “This is one of the first studies to examine the differential effects of various THC to CBD ratios using cannabis flower chemovars that are widely available in state-regulated markets. The present findings suggest that CBD may be associated with an overall reduction of THC exposure and may mitigate the negative psychotomimetic effects of THC without diminishing the effects of THC that individuals report liking.”

They concluded: “The results of the present study suggest that participants using the THC + CBD chemovar had significantly lower plasma THC levels and reported less paranoia and anxiety as compared to participants using the THC dominant chemovar. Importantly, despite these differences, participants in both the THC + CBD and THC conditions reported similar positive subjective effects. … The harm reduction implication of these findings is that cannabis chemovars containing CBD may result in less overall exposure to THC and subsequently less potential for harm, particularly with respect to the psychotomimetic effects of THC.”

Full text of the study, “Effects of cannabidiol in cannabis flower: Implications for harm reduction,” appears in Addiction Biology.

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