Dr Tom Freeman

Tom Freeman completed his PhD at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, UCL in which he investigated the cognitive mechanisms underpinning substance use and its comorbidity with psychotic disorders. His postdoctoral work involved coordinating a randomised clinical trial for cannabis addiction, funded by the Medical Research Council. This trial aimed to address the growing demand for treatment of cannabis-related problems and builds on previous work at UCL on the effects of different constituents of cannabis (THC and CBD). Tom’s postdoctoral training also included designing, completing and publicly disseminating a neuroimaging study investigating the effects of THC and CBD on the brain. Tom was awarded an SSA Academic Fellowship to investigate the relationship between cannabis potency and addiction at the National Addiction Centre, KCL. This included three programmes of work: characterising changes in THC and CBD in cannabis over time, investigating their association with addiction severity and treatment, and improving methods for quantifying cannabis use. Tom is currently Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath and Director of the Addiction and Mental Health Group (AIM).

Tom is an active member of the British Association for Psychopharmacology who have awarded him for his scientific research and public engagement. He has also received awards from the International College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Through collaborations developed at the Lisbon Addictions conference in 2015, Tom received funding to contribute to two large-scale European projects. These are currently investigating drug use in the dance music scene and biological indicators of drug use pathways in an existing cohort of young people. He has also recently received funding to investigate the effects of THC on the human brain (British Medical Association), adolescent cannabis use (Medical Research Council) and the role of CBD in cannabis-related harms (Medical Research Council).

Cannabidiol for the treatment of cannabis use disorder: an adaptive Bayesian dose-finding clinical trial

Presentation link: pending.

Presentation audio: Not available.

Cannabis use disorders account for more first-time entrants to specialist drug treatment than any other illicit drug across Europe. The number of Europeans entering treatment for cannabis use problems increased by 76% in the last decade. Cannabidiol (CBD) could be a potential pharmacotherapy, but it is unclear which (if any) dose might be most effective.  Here we conducted the first randomised clinical trial of CBD for cannabis use disorder. Using a double-blind adaptive Bayesian dose-finding design, 82 people with a DSM-5 diagnosis of cannabis use disorder were randomised to receive CBD (200mg, 400mg, 800mg) or matched placebo over four weeks. All volunteers received motivational interviewing. The adaptive Bayesian dose-finding design enabled ineffective doses of CBD to be eliminated at an early stage, enabling randomisation to continue to potentially effective doses of CBD and placebo. These data were used to assess the extent to which each of these doses of CBD were more effective than placebo at reducing cannabis use according to both co-primary outcomes (urinary THC-COOH, days abstinent).

This study was funded by the MRC (and I was funded by the SSA).