Guest Column by Elliot Cornish
A few years ago, you’d have been hard pressed to find even a cannabis user who could tell you much about cannabidiol (CBD), but times have changed. The CBD industry is set to be worth more than $5 billion by 2020, according to the latest research from New Frontier Data.
For a long time, cannabis growers actively tried to reduce the CBD content in strains as much as possible, in order to satiate the huge recreational demand for THC-rich cannabis. Today CBD is overshadowing demand from “recreational marijuana” consumers, taking the mainstream marketplace by storm. In this article, we are going to look at the reasons behind the newfound popularity of CBD, and why this cannabis derivative enjoys a unique legal status.
CBD is non-psychoactive
By far the most attractive quality of CBD for the general consumer market is that it’s non-psychoactive. Users can take CBD without worrying that they will get “high” or suffer any short-term physical or mental impairment. Moreover, the long-term risks of taking CBD are also minimal, with none of the memory or motivation loss that is sometimes associated with regular cannabis use.
CBD can be used to enhance general health, and also as a natural solution for many conditions, which we will explore later.
Legal CBD is made from hemp
In states where cannabis is fully legal, you may come across CBD products made from regular cannabis, however CBD products found anywhere else will be made from hemp.
Hemp is a type of cannabis sativa, cultivated to produce high amounts of CBD, but critically just traces of psychotropic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is why hemp extracts are used to make CBD products.
In the United States, federal law still classifies cannabis and cannabinoids as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act. The recently passed Farm Bill has granted an exception in the case of hemp products. Hemp-derived CBD is legal to make, possess, sell and consume, as long as the overall product has less than 0.3 percent THC. In the United Kingdom, the legal THC limit is set at just 0.2 percent, whereas in Switzerland it is a smidge higher at 1 percent.
This legislation has carved out a legal market for CBD-isolate products, which are made just with CBD, and for full-spectrum CBD, which is made with the entire hemp plant extract for extra therapeutic effects, but is still non-intoxicating.
Changing perceptions toward cannabis
While hemp CBD products are significantly different to standard cannabis, and not affected by the relaxation of laws around the herb, there has been a positive knock-on effect for these products, thanks to the positive publicity for marijuana in general.
A recent Gallup poll found that two of every three Americans are now in favor of full legalization of cannabis, more than double what it was in 2000. And a survey of CBD users released in 2018 found that nearly half of the people using the plant were not regular cannabis users, and that almost 40 percent were taking it for non-medicinal reasons.
An introduction to CBD’s benefits
The benefits of CBD are mostly conserved to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which the cannabinoid works to regulate. A finely balanced ECS promotes good immune system health, a regulated mood and appetite, healthy bones, good cognition and strong reproductive health.
CBD is an antagonist of the main two cannabinoid receptors, and also the GPR55 receptor, which is sometimes referred to as the third cannabinoid receptor. That CBD inhibits activity at these receptors does not mean it is ineffective. In fact, suppressing the CB1 receptor helps with keeping a balanced mood.
CBD also boosts the availability of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, by stopping its reuptake at the FAAH enzyme. Anandamide is a CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist, and is considered a natural – although much weaker – THC because it reacts with the body similarly. Anandamide binding to the CB1 receptor may help with cognition, improving mood and lowering pain perception. Meanwhile, binding to the CB2 receptor is key to reducing inflammation, in the brain, skin and throughout the body.
CBD users have fantastic choices nowadays, from CBD vape oil wholesale products, to tincture oils, concentrates, creams, edibles and more. And as the industry gets even bigger going forward, we should be graced with even more innovative options.