CBD. These three little letters are becoming as popular as BTW, BRB, AKA and even DIY. However, they don’t refer to an action, they refer to a chemical compound that naturally occurs in the cannabis plant and is becoming an appealing alternative for many people seeking better health.
The cannabis plant has been used as medicine throughout history, so why is it just now getting more attention? The answer is more than just the mainstream media’s coverage of recreational marijuana legalization in the United States. It has more to do with several scientific discoveries, their exposure to the medical community and the a little girl named Charlotte Figi.
‘Reefer Madness’ began in the US in 1936 and by years end, all states had enacted laws to regulate marijuana. But the substance that caused all the hype, THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) wasn’t discovered until 1964! An Israeli scientist, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, had isolated the molecular structure for CBD in 1946 and was working on identifying the other cannabinoids found in the plant. By 1980’ Dr. Mechoulam was able to conduct a study on CBD on human subject as a therapy for epilepsy. So as early as 40 years ago the knowledge that CBD could have positive impact on people that were suffering was known. But because so many people in the scientific community were not able to conduct research the progress was slow.
Fast forward ten years and the 1990’s were a decade of major cannabis discovery. In 1990 Miles Herkenham discovered cannabinoid receptors. In 1992 Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Bill Devane and Lumir Hanus discovered Endocannabinoid System. Then in 1996, California was the first state in the US to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, opening the door to the rest of the county and beginning the cannabis revolution of our generation.
But why CBD? Why now?
We can thank a little girl and a mother’s relentless fight for her daughter’s life. Around 2012, Charlotte Figi and her family discovered that a strain of marijuana with high CBD and low THC (then called Hippies disappointment) provided relief to her daily seizures. The Stanley brothers (marijuana grower in Colorado) recognized the potential of this plant and began to grow it for Charlotte and other like her under the strain “Charlotte’s Web”. The following year Dr. Sanjay Gupta published a special report called, “Weed” that highlighted this struggle and the benefits and safety of utilizing a high CBD/low THC strain of medical marijuana and the world was introduced to CBD.
Just four years ago now, the 2014 Farm Bill was passed and allowed for universities and state agencies to grow industrial hemp for research for the first time in 75 years. This bill also made some hemp products with THC levels below 0.3%, like hemp derived CBD oil, legal. This combination of events are where the current CBD craze got legs.
Combing a social struggle over the legality of marijuana and the benefit so many people have received from the use of both low and high THC strains of cannabis has led to a mainstream conversation about CBD oil and how it may help with anything from stress and anxiety to sleep to recovery from a hard workout. Where it goes from here will be an interesting story.