A published study in the February 2020 Journal of Behavioural Pharmacology indicates that cannabidiol (CBD) may play an important role in recovery from methamphetamine abuse. Researchers affliated with the Cellular and Molecular Research Center & the Iran University of Medical Sciences performed a study on rats who had been given methamphetamine to stimulate chronic use and examined a study population who afterward were given CBD. Typically, methamphetamine exposure results in deficits in motor activity, spatial memory, and long term memory; yet, the study population of rats receiving CBD was able to significantly recover in all categories and even return to baseline.
The Iranian study follows on the heels of a 2018 Australian rat study by researchers from Macquarie University and the University of Sydney, finding that CBD reduced impulses to seek and use methamphetamine. Macquarie University professor Dr. Jennifer Cornish told PsyPost, “this study has shown that in a preclinical setting, high doses of CBD can act to reduce methamphetamine consumption and also relapse to taking methamphetamine.”
CBD currently has only been approved in the United States for treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome, and further clinical research needs to be done before physicians can prescribe a CBD drug for recovery from methamphetamine abuse, but CBD is nevertheless widely available in a large and relatively unregulated consumer market as the FDA considers what regulatory framework to implement.
This research comes at a timely moment, as methamphetamine related deaths in the United States continue to increase. From 2012 to 2018, deaths from methamphetamine overdose rose from .08 to 3.9 per 100,000 population. Worse, there is no current pharmaceutical drug in the public health toolkit that is approved for methamphetamine addiction.
Mexican cartels represent the primary source of methamphetamine in the United States following the 2006-era limitations on the domestic sale of ephedrine and psuedoephedrine. This past month, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced Operation Crystal Shield to target methamphetamine transportation hubs.