What Is CBDQ? Everything You Need to Know

CBDQ is an experimental cannabinoid with fewer uses than CBD or THC, but may be better at fighting certain cancer cells.

Dr. Abraham Benavides is an international cannabis science advisor, health coach, and full-tuition merit scholar of the GW School of Medicine. Abe pioneered and published first-author research with the Cannabis...

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CBDQ cannabinoid oil from cannabis plant
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CBDQ and similar oxidized derivatives of CBD are gaining attention for their potential use in cancer, obesity, fibrosis, and diabetes. Like its parent, CBDQ is non-intoxicating and has clearer anticancer activity than THC or CBD, but nothing else is known about its effects on humans.

CBD is generally well-tolerated, but there are no clinical indications, safety, or tolerability data for using CBDQ yet. CBDQ may cause similar drug interactions or liver toxicity.

What Is CBDQ? 

CBDQ, cannabidiol quinone aka CBDHQ or HU-331, was first synthesized in 1968, when scientists wanted to know what makes hash turn purple. It forms when CBD is naturally oxidized or metabolized by air, heat, synthesis, and even digestion. 

Cannabidiol Hydroxy-Quinone chemical formula

CBDQ may arise naturally, but far too slowly to be appreciably extracted or practically used. Thus, pharmaceutical researchers are developing promising synthetic CBDQ derivatives

However, new manufacturers are bringing alleged organic CBDQ onto the market. Buyer beware because they aren’t regulated like dispensary products.

Marijuana plant

CBDQ vs. THC: Key Differences

  • CBDQ doesn’t cause a high or the same physiologic side effects as THC
  • THC is abundant in state-legal marketplaces and medically recommendable, while CBDQ is usually a trace substance or vaping byproduct 
  • Pure THC is commonly available, but pure CBDQ is often synthetic, sold to labs, and not for human consumption

CBDQ vs. CBD: Key Differences

  • CBD products are plentiful, but CBDQ products are new and exceedingly rare 
  • CBD is best known for its host of medical benefits, and one pure CBD pharmaceutical is FDA-approved 
  • Side effects of CBD are well-documented, but CBDQ’s are unknown other than possible drug interactions
Scientist holding cannabis plant

What Are the Benefits and Effects of CBDQ?

CBDQ and derivatives (VCE-004 series) are being actively investigated for a few, mostly cancer-related potential therapeutic effects, including:

  • Anticancer effects: Robust activity against topoisomerase II, angiogenesis, multiple cancer cell lines and animal tumors (e.g., breast, lymphoma, pancreatic, glioblastoma, melanoma, and colorectal cancer). May be synergistic with cisplatin and chemo drugs.
  • Appetite and Weight: Increases in mice with cancer. Reduced weight, body fat, triglycerides, liver stenosis in healthy mice fed a high-fat diet. 
  • Diabetes: May improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Anti-fibrotic: Systemic sclerosis and other fibrotic diseases

What Are the Side Effects of CBDQ? 

The short and long-term side effects of CBDQ aren’t fully studied or truly known, neither in animals nor humans. We know more about what CBDQ doesn’t do in terms of side effects, rather than what it does.

Back in 2007, there was a mouse study to see if there were cardiac side effects comparable to doxorubicin, a chemotherapy drug known for its negative cardiovascular effects. Investigators found that CBDQ does not have cardiotoxicity in mice, and so it may have an advantage. But this hasn’t yet been clinically studied.

Vaping CBD can create different redox species like CBDQ – which could carry risky side effects. Computer models indicate that inhaled CBDQ from commercial CBD vape products may cause pro-inflammatory, altered protein function, and stressful cellular effects. Still, the clinical significance of all this is to be determined.

  • There is not enough data to say whether CBDQ side effects are approximate to common CBD oil side effects, but it is possible since they are found together and directly related
  • CBDQ may cause unknown side effects directly, liver toxicity, or drug-drug interactions with enzyme families like CYP450, similar to CBD
  • CBD vapes can get hot and generate CBDQ and other free radicals, which can be harsh on the airways and have separate side effects

How Much CBDQ Should You Take? 

Currently, there is zero clinical data to suggest what a therapeutic or “good” dose of CBDQ is for us humans. All the studies are focused on mice and test tubes, which don’t directly translate to therapeutic human doses. 

With this caveat in mind, CBDQ is studied in mice to have positive effects at doses ranging from 7.5 mg/kg/week up to 15 mg/kg/week. A smaller, one time dose of 2.5 mg/kg was notably less effective than 5 mg/kg 3 times weekly. 

Weight-based dosing in humans is typically used in pediatric populations, such as with Epidiolex® (pure pharmaceutical CBD). However, CBDQ data is extremely limited by contrast and outright nonexistent for human dosing. 

Ask your healthcare provider first, and consider asking a cannabis coach too, for tips on what cannabinoids, products, and formulations are more accessible and may work best for you.

Will CBDQ Get You High?

No, CBDQ won’t get you high. In general, there is no evidence to suggest that any similar minor cannabinoids have intoxicating features. We know this because CBDQ and others lack a key structural component (double bond) that intoxicating cannabinoids like THC and THCP have.

Similar nonintoxicating cannabinoids like CBD and CBDV can improve mood and well-being by slowing the breakdown of, and increasing levels of anandamide (AEA). AEA is an endocannabinoid that naturally causes good feelings, particularly after exercise. Since CBDQ slows down the same enzymes, it may bring a similar AEA and mood boost.

Will CBDQ Show Up on a Drug Test?

Yes, CBDQ can show up on a drug test, but it is very unlikely. CBDQ is also known to be a liver-made metabolite of CBD. Modern drug testing research estimates a 1–2% chance of cross-reactivity with CBD metabolites. 

Although drug screens are primarily looking for THC metabolites, CBD products can potentially trigger an initial positive test. Consumers should know that cannabis and hemp products can carry trace amounts of THC that can alter results.


Physics tells us that when molecules are oxidized, they normally lose energy and reactivity – even cannabinoids. But quinone compounds like CBDQ are special. 

CBDQ is an oxidized form of CBD with less overall potential so far, but surprises us with promising anticancer effects yet to be studied in people.