If you are not willing to admit that you’ve tried it or recognize the scent of marijuana this is going to be a very short discourse. But if you are intrigued as to why a substance that is still illegal in most states is now gaining dignity and a place in the pharmacology sector, then read on. The fact is Cannabinoid, or CBD, is an oil extracted from cannabis, the friendly plant whose leaves, dried and smoked, are known as marijuana. How it is possible for a plant to produce two diametrically opposed products and where the future for this dichotomy lies, is the subject of this article.
Medical marijuana is nothing new. In fact, for thousands of years before Christ, the Chinese used cannabis tea to treat a wide range of illnesses and medical conditions. It is even said that Queen Victoria utilized CBD to quel what was then known as ‘female troubles’. During the mid-19th century, an Irish physician, Wiliam O’Shaughnessy, published his study on cannabis’ therapeutic applications. Sadly, his findings were considered so radical at the time, that prominent medical universities and practitioners refused to acknowledge him. Another century would pass before an American chemist, Roger Adam, isolated the cannabis compound, Cannabidiol or CBD.
Again, research on its therapeutic benefits was slow to evolve due to the stigma of its notorious sibling, marijuana. Money for research dried up. However, during the 1980s university work continued on the medically frail with very positive results. In one study, 300mg of CBD was injected daily to a small pool of epilepsy patient volunteers. The dosage proved to be highly effective in reducing or completely eliminating their seizures. However, the outcomes were not publicized, and further study was not subsidized.
However, behind the scenes, the benefits of marijuana increasingly gained ground and support for its legalization led to the passage of the landmark Proposition 215 in California, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes only. Other states followed including Maine, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii and Nevada, which incidentally, have thousands of fertile acres ideal for raising (medical) marijuana cash crops.
One of the long-time roadblocks to complete acceptance of CBD is the lack of substantial medical research available, and the public’s continued aversion to anything associated with an addictive drug. For most, cannabis is termed a ‘gateway drug’, in that by itself, it is not particularly harmful, but its use leads to experimentation and addiction to more powerful and dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and even prescription opioids. However, thanks to the rise of the internet and social media as a public forum, those who have benefitted from the use of medical marijuana and CBD are telling their stories. These range from epileptics for whom seizures are a thing of the past, to cancer patients whose pain has been alleviated, to those who claim that CBD has cured their cancer.
Due to this growing awareness and substantiated accounts by actual patients, the retail market for CBD has increased exponentially. As such the market is predicted to have a value of $22 billion in less than three years. Nearly every day one finds credible articles about a new ailment or condition, such as stress, anxiety, hypertension, wherein a need to be calm and relaxed proves beneficial to health and wellbeing. And for every case, CBD is cited as the vehicle in providing the solution, relief, or cure.
Today, CBD products are seen everywhere. At first they were available only in boutique outlets and stand alone pharmacies. Today big box stores and chain drug stores carry them. Less than a week ago, this author stopped in a Connecticut liquor store and found Gummy CBD products and other cannabis products displayed by the register. For the record, I refrained from buying them for my co-workers as souvenirs.
Recently there have been two more breakthroughs for those who are pro-CBD’s widespread use: The FDA approved a CBD-based oral solution, Epidolex. Available by prescription only, the drug is the first known to utilize the compound CBD in the treatment of epilepsy. In addition, the government has softened its stance on growing CBD which was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill passed by both Houses in Washington, D.C.
There are countless forums debating the issue and countless more patients who claim that their medical conditions have been reduced, alleviated, or even cured by compounds from the same plant their grandparents smoked to get high. Whether seeing CBD in your local chain store or hearing someone’s account of its therapeutic benefits first hand, CBD is not going away anytime soon. And, as more medical research dollars are allocated for its research, Cannabidiol may yet receive the respect and widespread medical use it seems destined to achieve. Time will tell.