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CBD: The History and The Hype

Over the last few years, CBD has gone from a relatively obscure component present in certain marijuana products to being a nationally marketed supplement touted as a near miraculous treatment for all sorts of conditions. The hype surrounding CBD at the moment is pretty intense, and there are a mind boggling number of products appearing with CBD as an ingredient—everything from mascara to fancy cocktails to dog treats. So how did CBD go from being unknown even among the most dedicated stoners to becoming a nationwide health craze, and how much of the hope promised by CBD products is actually just hype?
Cannabidiol, the full name for CBD, is one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants, like it’s better known sibling THC. Researchers discovered CBD in 1940 and dismissed it as not being pharmaceutically active. Given that federal regulations have made it nearly impossible to study cannabis for the last 70 years, it shouldn’t be surprising that CBD only started getting attention through experimentation in states with legal medical cannabis. Relatively speaking, it hasn’t taken long for CBD to gain massive attention as a purported cure for everything from cancer to acne. But that’s just the story of the last century or so, and like cannabis itself, CBD has been around for a lot longer.
Seeing an increasing number of cannabis products which include a significant proportion of CBD, it’s easy to wonder why it took so long for CBD to be available in the flowers, concentrates, edibles, and topicals available now. However, maybe what we should really be wondering is, how did we ever end up with weed that *doesn’t* have significant amounts of CBD in it? It’s no secret that cannabis contains much more THC than it used to, but it’s also true that all cannabis contains some amount of CBD. For perhaps as long as we’ve been practicing agriculture, humans have been selectively breeding cannabis for use as food, textile fibers, medicine, and of course, for getting high.
That history has left us with hemp varieties that are good for food and fiber, as well as the varieties we smoke, vape, and make into edibles. Hemp tends to contain greater amounts of CBD but only tiny amounts of THC, whereas most of the strains in our dispensaries are precisely the opposite. It’s not that there was ever a conspiracy to remove CBD from non hemp varieties of cannabis. Rather, by maximizing THC content, both relative and absolute CBD concentrations have declined as a result. For example, a strain that contains .5% CBD and 1% THC has a 1:2 ratio, whereas a strain with .1% CBD and 10% THC has a 1:10 ratio. Recently, the combination of modern analysis techniques, medical research, and the fall of a near global cannabis prohibition have facilitated a notable shift in focus towards growing cannabis with a more balanced ratio of the two most prominent cannabinoids.

Better Together

As it turns out, CBD and THC make excellent partners when consumed together. With the current renaissance of CBD in cannabis products, we’re seeing something like two old superhero friends being reunited to use their powers together in the battle against evil (and illness). The first thing that most cannabis users typically notice when adding cannabidiol to the mix is that it greatly reduces the feelings of paranoia and anxiety that commonly accompany consuming significant doses of THC. Those who already experience anxiety commonly report relief when smoking, vaping, or eating CBD products. Topical formulations with CBD are used for reducing inflammation and relieving pain.

Perhaps the most prominent application of CBD as medicine is in treating seizure conditions like epilepsy, where it provides relief for cases where no other effective treatments are known. This well researched and documented effect has been a major driving force in the legalization of CBD in some states where even medial cannabis remains illegal. The FDA recently approved CBD under the name Epidiolex as a seizure treatment and the DEA subsequently moved Epidiolex to Schedule IV. This is the first time that any product actually made from cannabis (versus synthetic derivitaves like Marinol) has been placed below Schedule I, the classification for cannabis and other drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Research also supports the use of CBD for treating neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, fighting cancer, and aiding with mood disorders like PTSD. With the current explosion of interest, we should expect to see more research refining our understanding of what CBD is good for and how to use it as medicine. The consensus seems to be that CBD works best when combined with some amount of THC, but marketing CBD without THC is precisely how companies are able to sell “hemp derived” products nationwide. Even that’s still grey area, with advocates claiming an exception under hemp farming laws and the DEA sending “warning letters” to CBD producers, though not taking any enforcement action. Now that even Coca-Cola is looking into adding a CBD beverage to their lineup, it seems unlikely that the fed will be moving against CBD producers anytime soon.

Good to the Last Drop

A High Times article states that, “Cannabidiol (CBD) is truly one of the most remarkable compounds in the natural world…The more we learn about CBD, the more it seems poised to revolutionize medicine as we know it.” But something seems a bit far fetched about a future where we’re all sipping on CBD Coke that both tastes great and provides revolutionary therapeutic benefits. We have a lot more to learn about the efficacy of different CBD formulations from different sources and the role of THC as a counterpart in its various medical applications. In the meantime, anecdotes suggest that CBD by itself can help with mood and managing pain while being extremely safe. What might not be safe and beneficial, however, are impurities present in products produced or imported for a quick profit, so consumers should consider looking for third party testing results, just like HEMP does for all of the producers we stock.


So, you’re ready to try some CBD? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered at HEMP. Alongside the rotating selection of CBD flower and concentrate strains, you’ll also find high CBD edibles and high CBD topicals on our shelves, like the State’s best selling topical by Fairwinds Cannabis, Flow Gel and Cream. Search for CBD on our online menu, or drop in and ask your budtender for help finding just the right thing. We meticulously select only the highest quality cannabis products available in the state, including CBD offerings specifically formulated to offer relief.

-Scott Yeager for High End Market Place