With the recent passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which effectively legalized industrial hemp and CBD nationwide, we thought it was appropriate to talk about a question we get pretty often: What’s the big deal about CBD oil?
It’s kind of crazy to think just how far the world of cannabis has come in just the last couple decades. A tiny plant that, even 10 years ago, was still considered a gateway drug to substances like heroin and methamphetamines, is now on the brink of legalization across the U.S.
We’re putting it in the same joint papers, blunts, bongs and pipes we always have, but we’re also including it in our food and drink (There are entire cookbooks dedicated to cooking with cannabis), and we’re finding new ways to consume it every day. We’re priming an entire market with the best weed the world has ever seen, and we’re regulating and taxing it in ways we never have before.
But best of all, we’re not treating it like some juvenile party drug anymore. We’re not just using it to get stoned; we’re using it to treat and cure illnesses, soothe muscle and joint pain, promote healthy appetite, alleviate the side effects of conventional medical treatments, treat diseases and so much more. It seems the whole world is in the midst of a weed revolution.
Hell, some of us ain’t even getting high with the stuff anymore. We’re just using it for the health benefits.
Case in point? CBD oil.
In a nutshell, CBD is what’s considered a cannabinoid. There are over 80 different cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, and CBD—short for cannabidiol—is just one of them.
CBD is extracted from the leaves, stalk and stem of hemp plants, and bottled as an oil that gets sold on the open market. Unlike the most well-known cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD has zero psychoactive properties (which means it won’t get you stoned).
This is an important thing to remember. CBD oil won’t get you high.
What it will do, however, is work with your body’s in-house endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help regulate bodily functions such as sleep, immune system responses and pain management. Essentially, CBD oil works to help our bodies manage their most common—and even uncommon—stressers. It won’t get you high, but it will activate your body’s ECS and allow it to work more effectively.
So, for instance, you might be prescribed a pure CBD oil to help ease epileptic seizures. Or, if you’re using CBD for anti-inflammatory purposes, you might get an oil from a plant that has a little THC that works in concert with CBD to both help with the injury, as well as help relieve pain. You may get a higher concentration CBD oil if you’re looking to easy symptoms of anxiety and depression.
CBD is an excellent way to help with pain relief, anti-inflammation, anxiety, some symptoms of depression, relaxation, etc. But if you’re looking to get stoned, you should definitely stick to the “other” stuff.
This one is confusing for many people first learning about CBD, because when we think of cannabis, we generally think of THC. And it certainly doesn’t help that CBD and THC are both cannabinoids.
However, their functions in our body—and the effects they have on us—are completely different.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. It’s found in the flowers and buds of the cannabis plant (primarily in female plants, but male plants also contain smaller, less potent amounts). When these buds are ingested—by smoking, eating, etc.—they attach to and activate the cannabinoid receptors in a person’s brain. These cannabinoid receptors control areas that affect pleasure, memory, thought, bodily coordination and time perception. These effects on the cannabinoid receptors are what create the “high” feeling people who use cannabis experience.
Cannabidiol (CBD), however, is used for entirely different purposes and activates completely different neurotransmitters and cannabinoid receptors. Scientific studies have shown that CBD can be used effectively for the treatment of things like difficult to treat pains, anxiety, inflammation, depression and even help alleviate things like menstrual cramps and migraines.
You can technically inhale CBD as a vapor and apply it directly to the skin, but the most popular method of ingesting it is as an oil thanks to its easy fat solubility.
Once the CBD has entered your body, it eventually makes its way to your ECS, where it really begins to do its work.
Once it finds its way to your endocannabinoid receptors, CBD helps nudge them into higher gear. It can trigger things like your immune system response, your sleep functions, your appetite, decrease inflammation, etc.
How CBD gets to your ECS really all depends on how you go about ingesting it. There are sprays, liquids, edibles, tinctures, topical ointments and yes, smokeables. Different methods work more effectively than others, but the point is, once the CBD makes its way to your ECS, it goes right to work.
Luckily, the risk factors in CBD oil are exceptionally low. According to the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential” and, “To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
However, that’s not to say it isn’t free of any side effects. Common CBD side effects include fatigue, irritability and nausea, and it can also cause an increase the level of Coumadin—a blood thinner—in your body.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that CBD also isn’t yet FDA regulated in the U.S., which means there are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there. A popular scam is to sell people completely legal hemp oil labeled under CBD oil. Hemp oil—which is primarily pressed from the seeds of hemp plants—has plenty of useful benefits, but is nowhere near as medicinally beneficial as real CBD oil.
Finally, because CBD oil is such a new product on the market, CBD oil dosage is still a tricky subject. There is a wide spectrum of CBD oils out there that can be used to treat different issues. Some oils are pure CBD, while others come mixed with different percentages of added THC. There are also a ton of different brands and different concentrations of CBD oil, and all of those things have to come together with an individual’s body weight, chemistry and severity of the condition they’re trying to treat.
But rest assured: You can’t overdose from CBD and there’re no adverse effects to over-dosing, but dialing in the perfect CBD oil dosage for you can take some time.
Perhaps the trickiest thing about CBD oil is its availability. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill passed last month, industrial hemp is now technically legal across the entire United States.
However, just because the plants from which most CBD is extracted is legal doesn’t mean that CBD itself is. In fact, following the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA issued a statement reminding people that CBD is still considered a “drug ingredient” and is illegal to add to food or health products without the agency’s approval.
There are a ton of states that have already legalized recreational and medical marijuana, and CBD oil is perfectly legal to purchase and possess in all of those states:
There are an additional 23 states where medical marijuana (And CBD, for the most part) are legal with the proper medical card:
How you can purchase CBD oil really all depends on your state’s legislation. If your state appears in the list above, you should be pretty safe. And if you live in South Dakota, where all cannabis—even medical—is still illegal, well, it’s probably time to consider moving.