For thousands of years, humanity has used the Cannabis plant for a variety of purposes, whether it be for medicinal, ceremonial, or recreational use. For a variety of reasons ranging from political to capitalistic, Cannabis has been outlawed in most countries around the globe. In the past 20 years, however, The United States has been taking baby steps toward undoing this so-called “War on Drugs” by allowing about half of the 50 states to prescribe cannabis medicinally and allowing a handful of states to cultivate and use the plant recreationally. It is with this lifting of prohibitive laws in The US that we have begun to see a renaissance of cannabis research and development.
The average citizen that has grown up in the US has probably heard of Cannabis as a gateway drug that ruins lives. Some still believe this, while others have seen through the fog and discovered that it is not nearly as dangerous as we are lead to believe, and in fact, has many beneficial properties that make it a plant worth intensive research. With this level of research has come the revolutionary discovery of the benefits of Cannabidiol, or as it is commonly known, CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD, simply put, is one of at least 100 active phytochemicals found in cannabis today. It is a major component of most cannabis genetics, accounting for up to 40% of the total phytochemical breakdown depending on the strain and growth environment. Unlike its counterpart THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is non-psychoactive and so will not induce a “high” as it is commonly referred to, which in THC’s case is typically a range of symptoms from lightheadedness to euphoria, without accounting for potential side effects.
So if it doesn’t induce a high, you may be asking: “Is CBD Legal?”. Short answer: yes, long answer: it’s a complicated grey area with little room for strict enforcement.
To understand the legality of CBD, one must understand what defines CBD and Industrial Hemp in the first place. Many people assume that “CBD” is a different plant from cannabis, or even that industrial hemp is not actually cannabis, and while the terminology may be close to correct, it is a bit more complicated than that. CBD is derived from industrial hemp most often as it is more abundant in hemp while having the least amount of THC, but that does not mean that CBD is exclusive to industrial hemp by any means.
Industrial Hemp vs. Cannabis
As previously stated, CBD is not its own plant, and exists in both industrial hemp and drug cultivar cannabis. Industrial hemp is legally defined as any part of the genus cannabis plant, whether it is actively growing or not, that is less than or equal to 0.3% THC by weight. This can mean that if you grow (with an industrial hemp license) a strain of seeds given to you that end up yielding 0.4% or greater THC by weight, you did not grow industrial hemp, you grew the federally illegal plant cannabis. If you grew those same genetics and they yielded 0.3% or less THC by weight, that is industrial hemp and is within the terms of your license to cultivate.
So how does one go about cultivating their own hemp for CBD? Well, in Farm Bill compliant states you can obtain a growing license and seeds from the state Department of Agriculture. Once this is done, you can grow Industrial Hemp on your private property. For guidance and assistance on the equipment needed for cultivating hemp, check out our favorite resource: www.greenstategardener.com.
Most mammals have an endocannabinoid system, which is a system set up to interact with cannabinoids that their bodies produce naturally. Humans are one of those mammals, and observing the interactions between cannabinoids on this bodily system yields interesting results as it relates to CBD and THC. External cannabinoids like those found in marijuana affect our brains and bodies by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and endocannabinoid system that influence a multitude of sensory inputs such as pleasure and have an influence on mental functions such as perception, acuity, and concentration.
When THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in our brain, it disrupts the normal functions of these pathways that influence our perception, moods, etc., and cause what we refer to as the ‘high’. Aside from this, THC also activates our reward feedback loop in our bodies, which stimulates the brain to produce higher amounts of dopamine, one of a few chemicals that contribute to the feeling of pleasure in our body, which also reinforces the repeated use of THC by telling your body that it is a beneficial chemical that binds and provides pleasure.
When CBD binds to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, it does not have this same effect where we experience a high to any extent. CBD may act as an indirect antagonist for THC when used together, which is why the benefits of THC are often reported as augmented when used in conjunction with CBD. Aside from this effect, CBD oil and other CBD products have been shown to soothe a number of medical conditions such as:
- Inflammation: Trials have shown(1) CBD to aid in reducing and protecting against inflammation, along with having neuroprotective properties against degenerative CNS diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Multiple Sclerosis.
- Chronic Pain: A very common sentient about CBD use is that it can reduce pain caused by a variety of ailments. This is partially due to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, but has been reported to aid in treating pain for harmful conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis and cancer, which is appealing to those that treat pain with opioid painkillers, which can be not only harmful, but addictive and expensive.
- Seizures: After the case of Charlotte Figi, a young child that suffered from chronic seizures being treated using CBD, there was an intensive study published(2) validating this treatment as the cause of the drastic improvement in her quality of life, reducing her seizure frequency dramatically.
- Anxiety: CBD has been shown to have anxiolytic properties, reducing anxiety in animals and humans. This has been applied to supplementing and/or replacing prescribed anxiety medications in favor of something less mind-altering, along with pairing it with patients that need medicinal THC but do not like the anxiety that it may cause in some patients.
So what does all of this mean? How do I know if I need THC or CBD? The most simple answer is that it is a personal matter based on how your body reacts to each chemical, as no two people will react the same to any one chemical. To determine what works best for you, do a little bit of digging and testing with our products here at https://upstateelevator.com, and consult with a naturopath or licensed physician to determine if CBD and/or THC is right for you! We have a wide variety of CBD provisions available, including CBD oil, CBD tincture, CBD capsules, and much more!
1. Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009, October). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/
2. Noonan, D. (2017, May 25). Marijuana Treatment Reduces Severe Epileptic Seizures. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/marijuana-treatment-reduces-severe-epileptic-seizures/