CBD (cannabidiol) was identified as a component of cannabis in 1940. By contrast, THC – the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – was not identified until 1964. Claims for its medical benefits have been somewhat exaggerated, but it does appear to be useful for some childhood seizures, chronic pain, and possibly anxiety. It may also help to counteract some of the psychoactive effects of THC.
Despite the absence of any reports of CBD abuse or addiction over the intervening 58 years since it was isolated, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has insisted on keeping it illegal because it is a component of “marijuana,” which is classified as a Schedule 1 substance. This decision has severely limited the amount of research that could be done in this country on either its benefits or dangers. As a result, most of the research on CBD has been done outside of the United States.
Why then is CBD so readily available online as well as in local brick and mortar stores and what kind of benefits can you expect from its use? If you are considering obtaining and using CBD, here are two things to keep in mind:
- Legality: Although CBD continues to be illegal under Federal law, the DEA and local law enforcement agencies have chosen for the time being not to enforce the law, at least in Maryland. A formal process exists for obtaining medical cannabis in Maryland and DC, but it must be obtained from a licensed dispensary – not from unlicensed websites and stores.
- Quality Control: Extracting pure CBD from the cannabis plant can be done but is not a simple process and there is no regulatory overview of what is being offered to the general public as CBD. At Kolmac we are seeing instances of patients who have been using CBD and whose urines are testing positive for THC.
Bottom Line: If you purchase CBD, you are violating Federal law but will probably not get arrested – at least not in Maryland. You will not, however, know for sure what you are getting. In other words, buyer beware! If you are determined to see what CBD can do for you, you might want to wait for a pharmaceutical grade version of CBD that has gotten preliminary support from an FDA advisory panel and for which the final decision will be made in June.