Cannabis addiction could be treated with more cannabis - study

Scientists may have discovered a cure for cannabis addiction - more cannabis.

While it's generally regarded as a "soft" drug unlikely to cause addiction, a small percentage of users can develop a dependency on cannabis, suffering withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and insomnia.

A team of researchers from University College London ran a trial involving 82 people classed as "severely addicted" to cannabis. For four weeks they were given a course of either 800mg of cannabidiol (CBD), 400mg or a placebo. The participants also received psychological support to help them quit.

While the placebo was not found to have any effect on withdrawal symptoms, those who took the 400mg dose were using half as much cannabis as the placebo group after six months. This was proven by diminishing THC levels in their urine. 

Those in the 400mg group also doubled the number of days in which their urine tested negative for THC, meaning they had not used cannabis within the testing period. Head researcher Val Curran called this a "really remarkable" outcome when presenting the findings at London's New Scientist Live festival last week. 

The 800mg dose was found to be slightly less effective at reducing cannabis use than the 400mg dose.

CBD, along with the 'high'-inducing THC, are the two main psychoactive compounds in cannabis. 

"CBD gets rid of the toxic effects of THC," Curran explained at the festival. She said rates of cannabis addiction are believed to be rising due to stronger strains of the drug becoming available.

Around the world, CBD supplements and products are becomingly increasingly popular options to treat a variety of maladies. In New Zealand, CBD products can be prescribed by a medical practitioner without additional approval from specialists.