Perhaps it’s because many people have romantic and misplaced notions about nature. Some even point out that we come hard-wired with cannabinoid receptors in our brains and they must have a purpose, so why not use them? This is not exactly a persuasive argument: Nature endowed us with our own cannabinoids, so unless you have a deficiency of them or sluggish receptors, you really don’t need supplementation.
Historically, hemp could legally be grown and cultivated for academic research purposes only. However, the legality of hemp growth has changed in the past year. In April 2018, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, a piece of legislation that proposed legalizing all hemp products at the federal level. The act was incorporated in the 2018 United States Farm Bill, which passed in both the House and Senate in December 2018. Per the farm bill, industrial hemp will be descheduled as a federally controlled substance.
The phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-intoxicating molecule that results from the heating, or decarboxylation, of cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA. As popular as CBD has become in both the cannabis community and mainstream consumerism, its natural precursor, CBDA, is one of 114 unique cannabinoids found in cannabis. In most cultivars, or cultivated varieties of cannabis, CBD ranks low on the expression chart; there often isn’t much. However, following a explosive discovery in 2009 — it was noted that a handful of strains are rich in CBD over THC. Droves of CBD-rich cultivars began cropping up all across the US, resulting in a marked uptick in CBD availability across the states.
In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) created a new coding category to classify “marihuana extracts” like CBD, but in doing so made clear that CBD was still classified as a Schedule I drug and therefore still illegal. Although the 2018 FDA approval of Epidiolex meant that the DEA removed this specific CBD drug from Schedule I classification, all other non-FDA approved forms for CBD remained classified as Schedule I drugs.
CBD does not appear to have any psychotropic ("high") effects such as those caused by ∆9-THC in marijuana, but may have anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic effects. As the legal landscape and understanding about the differences in medical cannabinoids unfolds, it will be increasingly important to distinguish "medical marijuana" (with varying degrees of psychotropic effects and deficits in executive function) – from "medical CBD therapies” which would commonly present as having a reduced or non-psychoactive side-effect profile.
And now, onto the thorny issue of legality. The simple answer to the question is yes – if it is extracted from hemp. The 2014 Farm Bill established guidelines for growing hemp in the U.S. legally. This so-called “industrial hemp” refers to both hemp and hemp products which come from cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent THC and are grown by a state-licensed farmer.
Some individuals have been found to have mutations on the CNR1 gene, which is responsible for coding the CB1 receptor (a type of receptor in cells throughout your body that interacts with cannabinoids). Issues with the CNR1 gene can ultimately result in a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system, which is an important variable when figuring out how to use CBD oil.
Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a nearly 500-page report on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. A committee of 16 experts from a variety of scientific and medical fields analyzed the available evidence — more than 10,000 scientific abstracts in all. Because so few studies examine the effects of CBD on its own, the panel did not issue any findings about CBD specifically, but it did reach some conclusions about cannabis and cannabinoids more generally. The researchers determined that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” supporting the use of cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain in adults, multiple sclerosis-related spasticity (a kind of stiffness and muscle spasms), and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. The committee also found “moderate” evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids can reduce sleep disturbances in people with obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis, as well as “limited” evidence that these substances can improve symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome, increase appetite and stem weight loss in people with HIV/AIDs, and improve symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.
Both Bonn-Miller and Ward stress that it's up to the consumer to be well-educated about the material they're purchasing and the research that's out there. "The companies that are creating [cannabis oils] are offering lots of claims about its use that are not necessarily substantiated by any research," Bonn-Miller said. So "I think there needs to be, from a consumer standpoint, a lot of vigilance," he added.
This may be a good place to point out that not all CBD products are created equal. The industry is still largely unregulated, and the quality and quantity of CBD in a given product will vary wildly. Third party testing definitely helps to monitor companies’ claims, but it’s still up to you as the consumer to do your homework on the best CBD products.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant that is grown specifically for industrial purposes. For millennia, people have used hemp fibers from the stalks and stems of the plant to make rope, textiles, paper, and many other products and have also used its seeds (and the oil from the seeds) as a food source. In the US however, heavy regulation and taxation of hemp dating back to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and subsequently through the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 all but rendered hemp farming in the US a legal impossibility for most of the past century.
Some states only allow for products infused with CBD, some only allow for high-CBD and low-THC products, while others allow both THC and CBD. To further confuse the American citizenry, some states permit patients the use of CBD, but require that they travel to another state to purchase it. To make sense of this confounding patchwork and to learn about each individual state’s CBD laws, read the Weedmaps Laws and Regulations page.