What got us writing this article was the recent announcement that crushed the hearts of many medical marijuana patients.
In what amounts to a significant blow to the CBD oil industry, CBD (cannabidiol) was recently classified as illegal in the state of Indiana according to its Attorney General, Curtis Hill. The legal status of CBD had been a confusing issue in Indiana for several months, but now, it is only available to patients suffering from epileptic seizures.
Similar to the situation in Indiana, the legal situation of CBD often confuses medical marijuana patients as they try to decipher a conflicting situation between state and Federal Laws. In this article we will discuss CBD, what it is, whether it can get you high and where it stands from a legal point of view.
What is CBD?
Since Indiana has made it illegal in most instances, surely the reason is that CBD provides you with a psychoactive high? Not so. In fact, CBD is known for providing medicinal benefits without the high.
CBD is one of the most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis. It is one of approximately 113 that have been identified, and this phytocannabinoid comprises up to 40% of the plant’s extract. Up until relatively recently, you could only benefit from the medicinal properties of marijuana by consuming the whole plant which included THC.
Advanced extraction techniques (supercritical CO2 extraction) means that companies can take the plant’s CBD with minimal THC. In most states, CBD oil is legal if it contains less than 0.3% THC but one wonders if the Indiana state ruling will change the game once again.
How Does CBD Affect the Body & How Does it Differ From THC?
CBD is predominantly found in the resin glands (also known as trichomes) of the female cannabis plant. Although it has a low affinity with the body’s cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), CBD acts as an indirect antagonist of these receptors; this fact simply means they bind to the receptors.
Why Is This Important?
It transpires that cannabinoid receptors play several crucial roles in our bodies. Those who oppose the legalization of marijuana claim that stimulating our receptors is a negative thing when in reality, the process is extremely beneficial. In 1946, an Israeli scientist named Raphael Macheoulam was the first to uncover THC as an active substance in the cannabis plant along with CBD and a few others.
Given the strong effect that marijuana has on the body, the logical conclusion was that there was a naturally occurring compound in the body that had a similar effect. There was, and the compound became known as Anandamide which is a pain reliever located in the body. Now, scientists were convinced that there was a corresponding cell membrane receptor that would respond to the chemical.
The body’s receptors come in various types and only respond to a specific class of chemicals. For example, estrogen, opiates, and testosterone have individual receptor classes. This was heralded as the discovery of our endocannabinoid system and initial proof that cannabis was actually good for you.
The Endocannabinoid System
The body’s cell receptors make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is probably the body’s most important neurotransmitter system and is involved in almost everything including:
- Immune function
- Pain perception
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The ECS’ main functions are creating optimum energy balance, immune system balance, stress recovery, and neuroprotection.
CBD vs. THC
The CB1 receptor is located in the brain and nervous system while the CB2 receptor is found in the cells throughout our immune system. The CB1 receptor is linked to modulating anxiety, stress, nausea, appetite, and balance of the immune system. THC is known for producing a cerebral psychoactive ‘high’; when CB1 receptors bind to this compound, the effects of the molecule is what causes the high.
CB2 receptors are predominantly found in the immune system and assist in the healing of damaged tissues and reduction of inflammation. CBD is linked with this receptor but remember; it doesn’t interact directly with either receptor. It acts to inhibit the enzyme that activates the receptors which is one of the reasons why CBD doesn’t get you high.
Indeed, CBD also inhibits THC’s interaction with the receptors which means it reduces THC’ psychoactive effects. In other words, CBD not only doesn’t get you high, but it also counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC and prevents you from getting high.
Does CBD Work in Any Other Way?
The short answer is ‘yes.’ While most people focus on its engagement with cannabinoid receptors, they overlook the far-reaching effects of the compound. For example, CBD also either directly or indirectly affects the following receptors:
- Serotonin: Plays a role in stress management & mood.
- Adenosine: Crucial in the sleep-wake cycle.
- Vanilloid: Important in pain modulation.
Since CBD has only recently been made legal in most states (as long as it contains little or no THC and comes from industrial hemp), we expect there to be a vast increase in the number of studies.
What Does CBD Treat?
It is quite distressing, and even depressing, to hear that CBD is now banned for most people in Indiana and we hope other states don’t follow suit. At present, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA alongside LSD, Heroin, and several other potentially deadly drugs! This is because the plant apparently has no medicinal value despite thousands of studies that say otherwise!
As CBD is part of the marijuana plant, it is in danger of getting banned by certain states despite all evidence showing that it doesn’t get you high! The truth is, CBD is polypharmacological which means it impacts several pathways in the body simultaneously. While this fact suggests it is capable of providing medical benefits in a variety of ways, it also makes CBD incredibly hard to study because we don’t know what effect the different interactions have on one another.
Nonetheless, CBD is used to treat the following:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- A variety of pediatric conditions
- Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia
- Chronic pain
The biggest research breakthroughs to date relate to epilepsy, anxiety and psychotic disorders.
If you’ve ever become anxious and paranoid after smoking marijuana, that’s because the THC content is affecting you. A 2011 study looked at ten people with social anxiety. They were given a placebo or a 400mg daily dose of CBD. Overall, those who received CBD reported improved anxiety symptoms when compared to the placebo group.
THC impacts regions of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus which probably helps contribute to marijuana’s psychoactive effects. These are also the same brain regions impacted in people with schizophrenia. However, there are no such issues with CBD.
In fact, a 2015 study that was published in Schizophrenia Research outlined the potential of CBD to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.
This is probably the best-known condition that benefits from CBD use. Even in Indiana, patients with epilepsy are permitted to use CBD products. You have probably heard the story of Charlotte Figi but allow us to tell an abridged version. She has Dravet’s Syndrome and was having hundreds of seizures a week. After using CBD from a plant later named Charlotte’s Web in her honor, her seizures were reduced to one or two a month.
If It Helps Treat Medical Conditions & Doesn’t Get You High, What’s The Problem with CBD?
The cynical amongst you might say the problem is that Big Pharma’s immense profit margin will take an enormous hit if CBD becomes mainstream. Unlike most prescription drugs, there is little in the way of side effects.
One of the clearest indications yet that the body’s cannabinoid receptors play a crucial role in our health came from a disastrous pharmaceutical drug. Big Pharma decided that these receptors resulted in increased appetite and attempted to develop a compound that blocked the receptors.
The result was a so-called ‘smart diet pill, ’ but it turned out to be a highly unintelligent creation! The drug was called Acomplia or Rimonabant, and it blocked the CB1 receptors. Side effects included serious depression, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. Yet marijuana is the Schedule 1 drug, go figure!
While it is true that THC does lead to an increase in appetite (munchies anyone?), CBD acts as a balance and helps inhibit hunger. In other words, CBD is a much better ‘diet pill’ option and doesn’t carry the same side effects.
Final Thoughts on CBD
The short answer to the original question is “no, CBD does not get you high.” At present, there aren’t enough detailed human studies to convince the government that marijuana, and in particular, CBD, provides genuine medical benefits with minimal risk. Given the amount of money spent on pharmaceutical drugs in the United States each year, one wonders if there will ever be enough evidence.
If you decide to eschew prescription drugs in favor of the all-natural relief provided by CBD, test the waters by consuming relatively small amounts at first to see how your body reacts. If you feel relief from whatever symptoms are troubling you and experience no side effects, you’ll know that CBD is right for you. Regardless of what happens, if you take oil that is high in CBD with minimal THC, you will not get high!