a hemp field with a box with text that reads "cbd may not mitigate the effects of CBD after all"

Previous research has investigated the impact of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on the body. Some studies have suggested that CBD may mitigate the unwanted effects of THC, including memory impairment and anxiety. Nevertheless, University College London (UCL) researchers recently found evidence to the contrary.

The Study: Does CBD Mitigate the Effects of THC?

48 regular cannabis users, including 24 adolescents (aged 16-17) and 24 adults (aged 26-29), were given three forms of vaporized cannabis under medical supervision to study the effects of CBD and THC on the body. 

The vapes contained a strain high in THC, a strain high in THC and CBD at a ratio of 1:3, or a placebo. The study’s results, published on February 7, revealed no differences in the “feel” or psychoactive effects of the drug or memory impairment between a high THC strain and a high THC and CBD strain. 

Surprisingly, levels of THC in the blood were higher when paired with CBD. Yet, according to Dr. Will Lawn, Psychology Lecturer at King’s College London and Lead Author of the study, there were no noticeable behavioral effects. He noted that these “quite complicated pharmacokinetic results…are surprising” and that he and his team are still unsure why that might happen. 

While CBD was suggested as a way to counteract some of THC’s effects for many years, the exact mechanism is not well understood. The theory arose as a potential explanation for the different effects caused by various strains of cannabis with varying levels of chemicals and cannabinoids. 

Some research suggests alterations to an enzyme called extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) found in the brain’s hippocampus may be connected to THC’s high euphoric effects. However, CBD may alter the amount of calcium within neurons, influencing how our neurotransmitters talk to each other. 

Why did the study look at teens and adults? 

A secondary objective of the study was to determine if cannabis use was more harmful to adolescents and aimed to investigate whether adolescents are more susceptible to such effects. The hypothesis was that adolescents would be more vulnerable to THC and feel it more strongly than adults. However, the results showed no difference in outcomes between the two age groups, suggesting that teenagers may not be more vulnerable to cognitive impairment, depression, or anxiety associated with cannabis use. 

Nevertheless, THC use can have long-term effects on brain development, which is ongoing until about 25 years old. THC also affects other functions in adolescence, which is an active area of research, as it disrupts the delicate balance of signals from the endocannabinoids that contribute to important aspects of development. Therefore, while there is no evidence to suggest that adolescents are more susceptible to the immediate harmful effects of cannabis, it is still not advisable for them to start using it.


CBD and THC are cannabinoids that affect the body and brain differently due to their distinct molecular structures and how they bind to receptors. THC activates cannabinoid receptors, which regulate mood, pain, and stress-coping, and is responsible for the euphoric effects of cannabis. In contrast, CBD does not activate these receptors, and its mechanism of action is still being researched.

Both cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system and can affect various brain functions. The short-term effects of THC can be compared to alcohol intoxication and may affect cognitive processing, reaction time, and short-term memory, and some individuals may experience panic or paranoia. Long-term effects of THC may impact motivation and cognitive processing and lead to the development of cannabis use disorder.

CBD’s short- and long-term effects are less well-known but are believed to impact the immune response in the body. When using cannabis, memory, and cognitive function may be impacted, which is the most concerning side effect. Additionally, smoking cannabis can alter the lungs in the long term, although some studies refute this claim. Therefore, smoking anything is not recommended.

Key Takeaways from the Study 

According to the report, CBD does not appear to counteract THC’s effects in cannabis, which contradicts some previous research. For example, many animal studies have supported the notion that CBD mitigates the effects of THC. Thus, it may be premature to dismiss this possibility. 

Further, researchers found no significant difference between the immediate effects of vaporized cannabis on teenagers and adults. But researchers still suggest that teenagers don’t use cannabis. Their concerns persist about the drug’s long-term effects on adolescent development.

Study authors recommend looking at the bigger picture when interpreting these results, stating that while some studies support the idea that CBD does not mitigate THC’s effects, others suggest that it does. Further research is still needed to come up with a concrete conclusion. 

What It Means for Medical Cannabis

While it hasn’t been proven or disproven, the potential debunking of the theory that CBD may cancel out some of the adverse effects of THC is a good thing because it highlights the need for more research to better understand how these compounds interact with each other and the body. This could lead to the development of more effective and safe cannabis products that are tailored to individual needs and preferences.

More importantly, it opens up the possibility for more effective cannabis use for medical marijuana patients. CBD offers several potentially therapeutic, balancing effects on the mind and body. Many medical cannabis patients have been a little weary of consuming CBD in fear that it will mitigate the euphoric feelings and effectiveness of THC as medicine. But this groundbreaking study may make consumers feel more confident taking one or the other, or both together, and still enjoy the effects necessary to help them feel their best. 

For people who want to use both THC and CBD, it is essential to know that the benefits and risks of each substance may be different and not fully understood. Therefore, it is recommended to be cautious and consult with a healthcare professional at Natural Green Healing before using cannabis products, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking other medications.

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