Medical Research

CBD/Hemp vs. Nicotine: Is it a Better Alternative?

Written by Petar Petrov

CBD has given a lot of harmful and/or dubious drugs a run for their money, and it seems as nicotine might be next.

CBD is usually the safer and more natural alternative in most juxtapositions, often even the more effective one as well. But are its effects strong enough to replace the nicotine craving which so many people can never truly escape?

Let’s delve into the way CBD affects the body and mind as it relates to nicotine.

Calming Effect

Lots of people smoke cigarettes as a way to cope with anxiety and stress. As we know, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and helps it maintain homeostasis, or the inner stability we associate with a calm state of mind. Furthermore, this tranquility and balance are the result of purely physiological processes, whereas the calming effects of nicotine are often derived as much from the act of smoking as they are from the substance itself.

Social Cues

Many people can attest to the fact that quitting smoking is tightly entwined with everyday social cues and temptations. There are many jobs where cigarette breaks are a legitimate thing, but taking 5 minutes to yourself without actually smoking is considered skiving.

Furthermore, there’s the undeniable charm to talking with colleagues over a quick cigarette, or making acquaintances in smoking areas in bars. In such situations, smoking can serve merely as a pretext, but for many people prone to nicotine addiction, this is enough to get them get them hooked.

In that sense, CBD can be a much better alternative to cigarettes than nicotine patches, giving you the needed moment of respite or the excuse to start conversations and friendships.


Of course, the main concern when considering CBD as an alternative to nicotine is its ability to keep tobacco addiction and cravings in check, and different studies have unveiled some serious promise in that regard.

For example, CBD has been found to divert the attention of smokers who are in the process of withdrawal from cigarettes, making cigarette cues less impactful. [1]

“Cannabidiol can reduce some aspects of nicotine withdrawal in dependent cigarette smokers, which include the attentional bias to and liking of drug cues, but did not affect craving withdrawal, cognition or impulsivity associated with withdrawal,” researcher Chandni Hindocha, a doctoral student at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit of University College Londo, told PsyPost. “This is likely because we gave people a single dose of the drug.”

Furthermore, CBD has been found to reduce cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers by 40%, plain and simple. [2] You can’t really argue there. The study which came to this conclusion involved placebo as well, so we know where the credit is due.

Last but not least, CBD has demonstrated some serious potential for curbing addiction altogether and at least partly quenching cravings for substances like cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin. [3] This is likely attributed to CBD’s interplay with AMPA and cannabinoid receptors in the nucleus accumbens — a region in the brain that is directly associated with addiction mechanisms, which promotes homeostasis. [4]

CBD seems to have all the makings for a viable alternative to nicotine, and the biggest obstacle to that might be lingering regulations rather than its limitations.



  1. Hindocha et al, Cannabidiol reverses attentional bias to cigarette cues in a human experimental model of tobacco withdrawal, Addiction, 01 May 2018, Journal Impact Factor = 5.789 Times Cited = 11
  2. Morgan et al, Cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers: Preliminary findings, Addictive Behaviors, Volume 38, Issue 9, September 2013, Pages 2433-2436, Journal Impact Factor = 2.686; Times Cited = 66
  3. Parket et al, Effect of low doses of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on the extinction of cocaine-induced and amphetamine-induced conditioned place preference learning in rats, Psychopharmacology, September 2004, Volume 175, Issue 3, pp 360–36; Journal Impact Factor = 3.875, Times Cited = 103
  4. Scofield et al, The Nucleus Accumbens: Mechanisms of Addiction across Drug Classes Reflect the Importance of Glutamate Homeostasis, Pharmacological Reviews July 2016, 68 (3) 816-871; Journal Impact Factor = 17.099; Times Cited = 105

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About the author

Petar Petrov

Petar is a freelance writer and copywriter, covering culture, art, society, and anything in-between that makes for a nice story. And as it so happens, cannabis is a great element to add to each of those conversations.