Evaluation of the potential use of cannabidiol in the treatment of cocaine use disorder: A systematic review

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2020 Sep:196:172982. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2020.172982. Epub 2020 Jul 6.


Background: Cannabinoids may have an important therapeutic potential for the treatment of dependence on crack cocaine. Cannabidiol (CBD), in particular, has anxiolytic, antipsychotic and anticonvulsant properties and plays a role in regulating motivation circuitry and controlling sleep disorders. Several studies were performed evaluating CBD in experimental models for cocaine. This systematic review aims evaluate the potential use of CBD in the treatment of cocaine use disorder.

Method: Five databases (Scielo; Medline/PubMed; PsycINFO; Cochrane Library; Virtual Health Library-VHL) were searched up to January 2020. Full-text reports published in English were included if they were experimental studies that administered CBD to human and/or adult animals in use or with a history of crack/cocaine administration. The risk of bias of each study selected was appraised by two independent reviewers following the Systematic Review Centre for Laboratory Animal Experimentation (SYRCLE) protocol.

Major findings: Fifty-one studies were analyzed, and 14 were selected. No studies conducted with humans were found; only one clinical trial was ongoing. The results were grouped into the following categories: cocaine self-administration, brain-stimulation reward, conditioned place preference, neuronal proliferation, anxiety, hepatic protection, anticonvulsant effect and locomotor sensitization response Only four studies had a low risk of bias. CBD promotes reduction on cocaine self-administration. Also, it interferes in cocaine induce brain reward stimulation and dopamine release. CBD promotes alteration in contextual memory associated with cocaine and in the neuroadaptations, hepatotoxicity and seizures induced by cocaine.

Conclusion: The evidence indicates that CBD is a promising adjunct therapy for the treatment of cocaine dependence due to its effect on: cocaine reward effects, cocaine consumption, behavioral responses, anxiety, neuronal proliferation, hepatic protection and safety. Moreover, clinical trials are strongly required to determine whether the findings in animal models occur in humans diagnosed for cocaine or crack cocaine use disorder.

Keywords: Cannabidiol; Cocaine; Pharmacotherapy; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology
  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects


  • Cannabidiol