THC and CBD: Villain versus Hero? Insights into Adolescent Exposure

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Mar 9;24(6):5251. doi: 10.3390/ijms24065251.


Cannabis is the most used drug of abuse worldwide. It is well established that the most abundant phytocannabinoids in this plant are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These two compounds have remarkably similar chemical structures yet vastly different effects in the brain. By binding to the same receptors, THC is psychoactive, while CBD has anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties. Lately, a variety of hemp-based products, including CBD and THC, have become widely available in the food and health industry, and medical and recreational use of cannabis has been legalized in many states/countries. As a result, people, including youths, are consuming CBD because it is considered "safe". An extensive literature exists evaluating the harmful effects of THC in both adults and adolescents, but little is known about the long-term effects of CBD exposure, especially in adolescence. The aim of this review is to collect preclinical and clinical evidence about the effects of cannabidiol.

Keywords: CBD; THC; adolescence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents*
  • Cannabidiol* / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Cannabis* / chemistry
  • Dronabinol / adverse effects
  • Hallucinogens*
  • Humans


  • Cannabidiol
  • Dronabinol
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Hallucinogens

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.