Much of the talk about medical and recreational marijuana involves forms of TetraHydroCannabinol, more commonly known as THC. THC is the psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant, meaning that the “high” associated with marijuana use is due to THC.
However, there’s another component to the cannabis plant that has gotten much less press, but its range of uses far exceeds those of THC: Cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD produces none of the high associated with THC; however, it’s medicinal effects are wide-ranging.
There are two types of CBD-containing products: those that are pure CBD with no THC and those that are high CBD, that contains low amounts of THC. Probably the best-known example of the latter is a medical cannabis product called Charlotte’s Web.
Charlotte’s Web was cultivated by the Stanley brothers in Colorado as a means of providing the seizure-prevention effects of CBD to children without the high of THC. It’s named after Charlotte Figi, a little girl who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, which leads to frequent seizures.
Prior to taking the Stanley brothers’ product, she was having an average of 300 seizures a week, but now once she began taking the CBD-predominant compound, they decreased to 2-3 a month.
CBD has a number of other medicinal uses in addition to seizure prevention.
German researchers found that it decreased psychoactive symptoms in schizophrenic patients.
A British pharmaceutical company has developed a CBD drug called Sativex, which contains a 1-to-1 ratio of CBD and THC used to calm painful muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis.
CBD has also been found to have the ability to stop cancer cells from metastasizing. It’s been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties as well.
And importantly for our nation, currently in an opioid crisis, its chemical properties may be helpful in treating opioid addiction.
The difficulty for those who may wish to use CBD is that its legal status is confusing. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, passed in 2014, prevents federal law enforcement officials from prosecuting possession of CBD products in states where medical marijuana is legal.
In addition to those states, 16 others have passed laws allowing possession of non-psychoactive CBD only.
A quick Google search will reveal that CBD products are widely available for purchase online, which brings up the legality of shipping products across state lines and to states where cannabis is illegal in all of its forms and uses.
Some states have laws pertaining to sending CBD-only products, which must be under .3% THC. However, it’s illegal to ship products that contain any amount of THC. Nevertheless, those aiming to ship CBD products have made several creative arguments in support of the legality of their efforts.
It will be interesting to see how legislators respond in the coming years to the growing mountain of evidence for the safe and effective nature of CBD oil.
As the nation responds to an opioid crisis, CBD may become a valuable treatment alternative, at which point it could go from a little-known marijuana derivative to a crucial life-saving remedy.