An increasing body of literature recognizes the anti-psychotic qualities of cannabidiol (CBD), according to a metareview published by researchers affiliated with the Brain & Mind Centre at the University of Sydney in the February 2020 “Current Opinion in Psychiatry”. Clinical trial studies of CBD in patients with schizophrenia or related conditions were found to demonstrate significant antipsychotic benefits, although more research is needed to further determine CBD’s efficacy with specific aspects of schizophrenia, as well as potential CBD additive therapies in combination with already approved therapies.
As the first small-scale clinical studies with CBD treatment of patients with psychotic symptoms further confirm the potential of CBD as an effective, safe and well-tolerated antipsychotic compound, although large randomised clinical trials will be needed before this novel therapy can be introduced into clinical practice.
This effort to aggregate and systematize knowledge about CBD use and efficacy comes at a time of broader debate about the regulation of cannabis in the United States and globally. Groups advocating cannabis prohibition tend to defend their position by citing research that may link cannabis use to psychosis, but to date these studies have largely been observational studies that examine use in black or grey market environments, with few or no controls for confounding factors, including pesticide use.
The emergence of CBD in the last decade, primarily through federally legal production of hemp (low-THC cannabis), problematizes that narrative. The legal status of cannabis use is largely (and artificially) defined by THC content, and research on high THC use does not typically account for low-information and low-preference environments found in illegal & unregulated environments; moreover, the US Schedule 1 status of the drug and barriers to clinical trial research forces researchers to conduct low-quality studies.