Mindfulness & Anxiety

Can a CBD pre-roll help you quit smoking?

By Marc Lewis

Hold a CBD pre-roll and you’re aware of what you don’t have. It looks like a joint, smells like a joint, but won’t get you high. You’d have to smoke a thousand of them to get to a place one marijuana cigarette will take you. If you’re coming at a hemp joint from that place, you’ll be disappointed.

While a pre-roll won’t get you high, it is something to smoke. And a lot of smokers who want to quit, those who have decided against sucking on a USB drive, will tell you something else to smoke might help them get over the hump.

Because when a smoker is done, when he’s tired of smelling like hell or wants his kids to grow up smoke-free, he starts counting, rationing cigarettes to the bitter end. He cuts back to the two or three favorite cigarettes of the day—the one with coffee, maybe the one after work. It’s a long process that brings the smoker to his last, favorite cigarette. The smoker (this writer included) knows the last cigarette is the hardest to quit.

Let’s talk more about the benefits of CBD to smokers.

So how can CBD help quitters quit that last cigarette?

The smoker gets down to his last cigarette of the day and all he’s got to do is quit one more. It sounds simple. Just one day on the ride home: don’t smoke, be done. But the smoker hangs on to his one-a-day habit. Then someone cuts him off in traffic, the oven breaks, or he stubs a toe and one-a-day becomes full-fledged smoking again. If only he could get over that last one.

Evidence is mounting that CBD has can lessen the signs of withdrawal.

  • In people trying to overcome opioid addiction, CBD is shown to lessen the amount of reward the brain gets from the drug it craves, thus loosening the dependency.
  • CBD calms the nerves and helps with depression, which is a plus to any smoker trying to quit.
  • The compound may also combat social anxiety, a nervous feeling that has driven more than a few smokers to the porch at every party ever.

All these are positives for the smoker who wants to quit.

Efficacy of Current Smoking Cessation Methods

Just how effective are current cessation treatments? And can CBD rival traditional treatments?

There are several cessation treatments recommended by doctors:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy (e.g. patches, gum, etc.)
  • Medications (e.g. bupropion, varenicline, cytisine, etc.)
  • Antidepressants (e.g. nortiptyline)
  • Counseling and therapy

A combination of long-term medication and short-term nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as a nicotine patch or gum, are considered effective. One study showed positive results in varenicline users over other cessation treatments, including NRT, among 11,968 participants.

Cessation medications, antidepressants, and gum are not for everyone, however. Some smokers may prefer to go a more natural route, and some smokers may not respond well to certain medications. Certain medications may have contraindications, such as cardiovascular or neurological effects, drug interactions, or negative effects on pregnant women.

In a 2017 questionnaire of 180 participants in Winnipeg, Canada, researchers reported the following data:

  • Only 6.4% of respondents felt their health care practitioners’ advice had an impact.
  • 80% of respondents had no insurance coverage for their smoking cessation products.
  • Almost one-third of respondents had more than 5 previous cessation attempts.
  • Nicotine gum (33.3%) and patches (24.4.%) had less efficacy than e-cigarettes (97.9%) and varenicline (70.6%).

It’s clear that lower efficacy of NRT treatments, as well as insurance barriers, can affect cessation success. In the United States, insurance barriers could be an even greater concern.

Is CBD Safer and More Effective for Quitting Smoking?

One of the main concerns with e-cigarettes as an alternative to cigarettes is nicotine addiction. While many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, vaping or consuming CBD does not require nicotine. CBD also lacks THC’s psychoactive properties.

CBD has few side effects, which include diarrhea, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, and low blood pressure. Overall, CBD’s side effects seem to be less serious than some medications on the market. Additionally, CBD does not contain the 70 carcinogenic chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes.

What Do the Researchers Say?

The Beckley Foundation, an organization at the front of drug policy, conducted a double-blind study through the Beckley/Exeter Research Programme. A group of 24 smokers were randomized, receiving an inhaler with either CBD or a placebo. They were instructed to use the inhaler any time they felt an urge to smoke. The study lasted a week, and the participants using a CBD inhaler reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by 40 percent. Those with a placebo-filled inhaler showed no difference.

Why might CBD affect the urge to smoke? Clinical Psychologist and Doctor of Pharmacology, José Carlos Buoso, explains CBD’s effects on the body’s Endocannabinoid system:

“These [effects] include the action of CBD on CB1 receptors (as a weak reverse agonist), and its properties as an inhibitor of the enzyme that breaks down the anandamide (FAAH). These actions may be related to a reduction in the boosting properties of nicotine. They also offer some speculation on psychological causes, such as the possible action of CBD in reducing attention on contextual cues that may be involved in maintenance of nicotine consumption.”

Anandamide plays a role in appetite, pain and depression, and based on this theory, may have a relation to nicotine addiction.

Buoso’s statements on CBD and psychological causes may also be supported by a second study. In the study, 30 participants were given either a placebo or 800 mg oral dose of CBD over the course of two overnight abstinent sessions. The study concluded that one 800 mg dose of CBD successfully reduced the “pleasantness” of pictorial tobacco cues, thereby reversing attentional bias to images that would induce an automatic response.

A case study also found that a male patient who received CBD treatments was able to reverse his marijuana addiction. Perhaps this means that CBD could be a cessation treatment for marijuana smokers as well as tobacco smokers.

“But I need more than evidence to quit.”

That’s where the pre-roll comes in. When I was quitting, despite all the knowing-smoking-is-bad-for-me, inevitably, I’d get off the couch, put on my shoes, and drive to the nearest convenient store to stand in the lonely white glow next to the ice chest and smoke. Truth—both knowledge and advertising—helped people like me get to the point of wanting to quit but in that lonely heat of addiction, information was insufficient. I wanted to smoke. I wanted something to hold. Something to put between my fingers to inhale when I was alone at night. A stick of hemp, for me, would have been a welcomed reprieve. Something different to put in my mouth.

That’s why Gold Standard CBD’s Hemp Stix caught my eye at the Carolina Hemp Festival. The pre-rolls come in a pack of 10, cost $30, and are formulated for relaxation. In addition to having some of the beneficial properties of hemp that we’ve discussed, each pre-roll is also—for quitters like the one I was—the size of a cigarette. It feels like a cigarette between your fingers. It’s something to hold. It’s a distraction.

Efficacy of Current Smoking Cessation Methods

Just how effective are current cessation treatments? And can CBD rival traditional treatments?

There are several cessation treatments recommended by doctors:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy (e.g. patches, gum, etc.)
  • Medications (e.g. bupropion, varenicline, cytisine, etc.)
  • Antidepressants (e.g. nortiptyline)
  • Counseling and therapy

A combination of long-term medication and short-term nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as a nicotine patch or gum, are considered effective. One study showed positive results in varenicline users over other cessation treatments, including NRT, among 11,968 participants.

Cessation medications, antidepressants, and gum are not for everyone, however. Some smokers may prefer to go a more natural route, and some smokers may not respond well to certain medications. Certain medications may have contraindications, such as cardiovascular or neurological effects, drug interactions, or negative effects on pregnant women.

In a 2017 questionnaire of 180 participants in Winnipeg, Canada, researchers reported the following data:

  • Only 6.4% of respondents felt their health care practitioners’ advice had an impact.
  • 80% of respondents had no insurance coverage for their smoking cessation products.
  • Almost one-third of respondents had more than 5 previous cessation attempts.
  • Nicotine gum (33.3%) and patches (24.4.%) had less efficacy than e-cigarettes (97.9%) and varenicline (70.6%).

It’s clear that lower efficacy of NRT treatments, as well as insurance barriers, can affect cessation success. In the United States, insurance barriers could be an even greater concern.

Is CBD Safer and More Effective for Quitting Smoking?

One of the main concerns with e-cigarettes as an alternative to cigarettes is nicotine addiction. While many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, vaping or consuming CBD does not require nicotine. CBD also lacks THC’s psychoactive properties.

CBD has few side effects, which include diarrhea, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, and low blood pressure. Overall, CBD’s side effects seem to be less serious than some medications on the market. Additionally, CBD does not contain the 70 carcinogenic chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes.

What Do the Researchers Say?

The Beckley Foundation, an organization at the front of drug policy, conducted a double-blind study through the Beckley/Exeter Research Programme. A group of 24 smokers were randomized, receiving an inhaler with either CBD or a placebo. They were instructed to use the inhaler any time they felt an urge to smoke. The study lasted a week, and the participants using a CBD inhaler reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by 40 percent. Those with a placebo-filled inhaler showed no difference.

Why might CBD affect the urge to smoke? Clinical Psychologist and Doctor of Pharmacology, José Carlos Buoso, explains CBD’s effects on the body’s Endocannabinoid system:

“These [effects] include the action of CBD on CB1 receptors (as a weak reverse agonist), and its properties as an inhibitor of the enzyme that breaks down the anandamide (FAAH). These actions may be related to a reduction in the boosting properties of nicotine. They also offer some speculation on psychological causes, such as the possible action of CBD in reducing attention on contextual cues that may be involved in maintenance of nicotine consumption.”

Anandamide plays a role in appetite, pain and depression, and based on this theory, may have a relation to nicotine addiction.

Buoso’s statements on CBD and psychological causes may also be supported by a second study. In the study, 30 participants were given either a placebo or 800 mg oral dose of CBD over the course of two overnight abstinent sessions. The study concluded that one 800 mg dose of CBD successfully reduced the “pleasantness” of pictorial tobacco cues, thereby reversing attentional bias to images that would induce an automatic response.

A case study also found that a male patient who received CBD treatments was able to reverse his marijuana addiction. Perhaps this means that CBD could be a cessation treatment for marijuana smokers as well as tobacco smokers.

Can I Use CBD to Quit Now?

Before you commit to any smoking cessation treatment, you should consult your physician to discuss what is right for you. More research is necessary to definitively conclude CBD as an effective treatment for smokers.

You should also research the laws in your state to determine if CBD products are legal. Though hemp-derived products are now legal on the federal level, some CBD products may not fall under this category.

Either way, vaping CBD oil or consuming CBD in any way, should be on your radar as research related to smoking develops. All methods of cessation should be examined, because there is no healthy form of tobacco.

“But what about the farmers? At least my future-lung-cancer employs farmers.”

Hemp positively impacts farmers. In some places, farmers who are replacing tobacco with hemp are getting $1 more per pound. An okay hemp crop may even beat a great tobacco crop, according to a recent Forbes story.

For farmers, folks who work early, long, and often, more per acre matters. Rarely do we—people who shower before work, instead of after—understand that the farm economy is opposite what we feel. Agriculture is entering the fourth year of a recession while the general economy has been up-and-to-the-right for years. So choosing a product that gives farmers new and different options may shift some of the recovery outward.

Again, No Smoking is “Healthy”

Smoking is bad for you. Putting anything in your lungs other than air introduces damaging and potentially harmful molecules to your lungs. What we’re talking about is getting over the hump, finding a temporary alternative that helps someone quite smoking.

Debates about medically-assisted treatment for all forms of addiction are on-going. But opinion is shifting toward the notion that one size does not fit all. If a hemp pre-roll full of quality CBD offers a brief, light feeling in the head and arms—not a buzz, but a sensation—and that sensation helps a person smoke one less cigarette, it’s something to consider.

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