As medical and recreational legalization has taken root across the United States, THC levels in top shelf marijuana have also increased by about 300 percent over the last few decades, while cannabidiol (CBD) levels have actually decreased. But while that combination might be a solid recipe for getting stoned, a new study suggests that cannabis with higher amounts of CBD may actually help counteract any possibly harmful long-term effects that stem from smoking the plant.
Researchers from Indiana University recently conducted an experiment on mice, frequently injecting them with doses of THC and CBD. When given pure THC, the mice showed signs of increased anxiety and memory impairment. However, when they received a dose of equal parts THC and CBD, the subjects did not experience any of the previously documented side effects. According to the lead study author Dr. Ken Mackie, the findings "suggests that strains of cannabis with similar levels of CBD and THC would pose significantly less long-term risk due to CBD's protective effect against THC.”
In the new study, researchers examined the effects of THC and CBD on both adolescent and adult mice. The subjects were divided into five different groups, one that received THC only; one that received CBD only; one that received equal amounts of both; as well as two other groups that received a placebo or no treatment at all. After injecting the chemicals into the mice everyday for three weeks, the researchers observed the groups’ immediate reactions, and then tested them again six weeks later.
Interestingly enough, the Indiana University research team also found that adolescent mice given just THC showed negative symptoms six weeks after treatment, while the adult mice did not. This discovery falls in line with other studies that claim teenagers are at greater risk of long-term problems from cannabis use than adults. However, both adolescent and adult mice injected with equal parts THC and CBD showed no symptoms at all.
While the study doesn’t give a definitive answer about how CBD counteracts the negative effects of THC, the researchers hope that their findings pave the way for more experimentation in the future. Those of us who use cannabis recreationally can certainly appreciate the heady high that comes from THC, but when it comes to protecting tokers from the harmful effects of marijuana use, the potentially positive impact of CBD should not be forgotten nor understated.