When the facts change, it’s only right for our opinions to – at the very minimum – be challenged. For several decades, mainstream thought has considered cannabis to be a net cost for society, providing fuel for a black market worth billions, causing or exacerbating mental illness and generally making people lazier. However, as the years have gone on and cannabis research has steadily progressed in the United States, Israel, Latin America, Europe and elsewhere, it has been shown that cannabis is much more complex and versatile than an herb that is simply ground up, rolled up and smoked.
We now understand cannabis to be a plant consisting of several hundred compounds, more than 100 of which are essentially exclusive to cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. These compounds are called cannabinoids, and they have the power to administer therapeutic effects. A few cannabinoids, most notably tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can induce psychoactive effects, hence why cannabis has been a subject of controversy for many years.
However, while we may still be sometime from embracing the medicinal value of THC, interest in the qualities of marijuana’s non-psychoactive cannabinoids has risen significantly in recent times. As has the demand for hemp, a mostly non-psychoactive strain of cannabis sativa, that has higher concentrations of CBD than THC. These plants also contain traces of other cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG), and are used to make hemp-derived CBD products, such as CBD e-liquid and vape oil. While technically cannabis-based products, the 2014 Farm Bill has paved a legal route for these to be sold in the American market. The only restriction on a product made from hemp is that its THC content is limited to 0.3 percent.
The growth of CBD in the United States
According to New Frontier Data, the entire CBD market was worth just $108 million in 2014. By 2017, that had grown to $367 million, but that is expected to rise much further to more than $1.9 billion by 2022, when incorporating the pharmaceutical, marijuana-derived and hemp-derived CBD markets. From 2017 to 2022, the hemp-derived CBD market is anticipated to grow by more than 200 percent, from $190 million to $646 million.
There are plenty of reasons for the massive surge in CBD sales, from the legalization of hemp-based products, the increasing acceptance of cannabis in general in several US states, and the positive press coverage that cannabis and non-psychoactive CBD is receiving. For instance, the story that made CBD something of an overnight success story was about how the compound was being used to treat children with intractable epilepsy.
The rarest and most complicated epileptic conditions often have no conventional cure, with the only treatments available helping to mitigate symptoms, while sometimes causing other side effects. However, for child patients like Charlotte Figi, who was featured on CNN’s Weed, CBD has helped to reduce her hundreds of seizures per week down to a few per month.
The idea that cannabis could be beneficial for children with extreme illnesses would have once been unimaginable, but the facts and human-interest stories are there, and the public perception of cannabis has shifted positively. As of 2018, 46 US states have brought in legislation for CBD, and hemp-based CBD products can be purchased everywhere.
CBD is safe to try
Another awesome thing about CBD is that not only can it bought without a medical marijuana card or prescription, but it’s very safe to use as well, with studies proving that the cannabinoid can be tolerated even in dosages as high as 1,500mg per day, which can be necessary for patients with chronic pain.
Compared to opioid painkillers which are addictive and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which can cause stomach pain, dizziness and allergic reactions, there’s nothing to worry about with CBD.
However, for those taking pharmaceutical medication, it’s worth asking a doctor whether CBD could interfere with the metabolization of those drugs, as CBD is known to slow the Cytochrome P450 system. Furthermore, if you are taking high doses, then doing so in a safe and comfortable environment is recommended as CBD can induce sleepiness in these amounts.
Vaping over smoking
Recreational cannabis users are always likely to smoke the herb, as they are searching for effects that can only be derived from this method. However, for medical users, there are now so many alternatives to smoking that makes the entire cannabis experience healthier, externally and internally. In addition to putting strain on and potentially causing complications in the lungs, the free radicals contained in cannabis smoke can speed up extrinsic aging, which accounts for 90 percent of all aging. However, no smoke is formed in the process of vaporizing CBD, and no smoke means no free radicals.
As an aside, CBD and other cannabinoids have notable antioxidant properties that could be useful for holding off aging. Free radicals don’t just come from smoke, but ultraviolet rays and pollutants – antioxidants can neutralize these uncharged molecules and prevent them from having a detrimental effect on the skin.
CBD helps regulate a crucial system in our bodies
Heard of the endocannabinoid system? Neither had researchers until the early 1990s, but over the past 25 years or so the importance of this all-encompassing network has become increasingly apparent. In layman’s terms, the endocannabinoid system is the body’s natural cannabis system. The reason we hadn’t discovered it earlier is because the only external compounds that are able to function in this system are cannabinoids. The first endocannabinoid to be discovered was anandamide, and this was only due to the earlier identification of THC.
CBD oversees the endocannabinoid system and ensures that each mechanism is working as intended by increasing endocannabinoid levels, improving signalling and making receptors more or less receptive to various compounds. Therefore, CBD can help to solve an array of chemical imbalances, which explains why it may work for the vast range of illnesses it appears to.