Quit Smoking with CBD

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 20, 2020
CBD Quit Smoking Helps
CBD Quit Smoking Helps

Want to Quit Smoking Cigarettes? CBD to the rescue!

Quit Smoking with CBD

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) about 7 million people die annually from the many well known serious complications of smoking tobacco cigarettes. To contrast that – the worldwide death toll for cannabis is ZERO.

That’s right – the product that kills you from cancer and heart disease remains legal and widely available whereas cannabis which studies have shown may be effective in a variety of conditions such as epilepsy, pain management, anxiety and nausea remains has been generally illegal in the US till recently and only in 2018 did the Farm Bill effectively permit the use of hemp-derived cannabinoids.

Cannabis with greater than 0.3% dry weight of THC remains Federally illegal and a schedule 1 drug like heroin or cocaine.

We know that people who smoke cigarettes with the nicotine found in the tobacco become dependent on the nicotine and this addiction is a large part of the success of tobacco as ‘customers’ can’t help themselves and reach for a pack no matter how hard they try to quit. Smoking cessation is critical to a smokers health and reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancers (e.g. oral and lung) amongst others.

There are medications that help, nicotine gum and patches and others have tried vaping of nicotine to at least stop the negative side-effects associated with the inhalation of smoke from the tobacco plant. We also know that many users like the ‘smoking’ itself. Taking a cigarette (or rolling the tobacco) and lighting it, holding it in your hand etc. All this has its own form of addiction almost.

So can CBD help in stopping tobacco use?

Well while there are many ways of consuming cannabis – smoking hemp CBD flower in a pre-roll is an effective way of getting CBD into your system while also meeting the need to smoke something and holding a CBD joint or a CBD blunt your hands.

But there appears more to it than just the manual and oral similarity to cigarettes.

There is growing support and evidence that CBD may in fact help some people from smoking. While there are many people who swear by CBD as having saved them from tobacco – without real medical evidence it could just be placebo effect. In fact there are those who argue that CBD or cannabis can increase the desire to smoke.
There have been studies both direct and indirect trying to assess and quantify the effect of CBD on tobacco smoking.
A small study published in 2013 in Addictive Behaviors found that in dependent smokers who were given a CBD meter-dosed inhaler over a 7 day period had a reduction of 40% in their consumption of cigarettes whereas those given inhalers with a placebo instead of CBD showed no reduction of cigarette use.
Another article published in May 2018 in Addiction was titled: “Cannabidiol reverses attentional bias to cigarette cues in a human experimental model of tobacco withdrawal.” In the study 30 dependent cigarette smokers were given 800mg of CBD orally vs placebo and then were shown images related to smoking tobacco such as images of ashtrays, lighters, people smoking etc.
The findings were promising in that they concluded that, “a single 800-mg oral dose of cannabidiol reduced the salience and pleasantness of cigarette cues, compared with placebo, after overnight cigarette abstinence in dependent smokers.” Basically it was found that the group that received the CBD found cigarette cues less appealing though they did not note a difference in craving or withdrawal.

It is not understood well how CBD works in affecting addiction but is believed to be associated with regulation o f cannabinoid and AMPA receptors in the brain – in a region associated strongly with addiction (nucleus accumbens). But the science is complex and there is much we do not know due to the years during which it was hard to do any medical studies on cannabis. The effects may also be enhanced by the terpene profile – better known as The Entourage Effect.

Ongoing research is required to determine the effectiveness (if any) of CBD and cannabis on cigarette smoking, cravings, cessation and withdrawal. We need to understand what dosage may work and if the route of administration (e.g. edible vs inhalation) and/or the presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes can affect the outcome.