Beyond the CB1 Receptor: Is Cannabidiol the Answer for Disorders of Motivation?

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2016 Jul 8:39:1-17. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-070815-014038. Epub 2016 Feb 24.


The Cannabis sativa plant has been used to treat various physiological and psychiatric conditions for millennia. Current research is focused on isolating potentially therapeutic chemical constituents from the plant for use in the treatment of many central nervous system disorders. Of particular interest is the primary nonpsychoactive constituent cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not act through the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor but has many other receptor targets that may play a role in psychiatric disorders. Here we review preclinical and clinical data outlining the therapeutic efficacy of CBD for the treatment of motivational disorders such as drug addiction, anxiety, and depression. Across studies, findings suggest promising treatment effects and potentially overlapping mechanisms of action for CBD in these disorders and indicate the need for further systematic investigation of the viability of CBD as a psychiatric pharmacotherapy.

Keywords: THC; addiction; anxiety; cannabidiol; depression; reward; Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use*
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*


  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Cannabidiol