Since the passing of The Farm Bill in 2018, CBD’s commercial production has quickly grown in the United States. What used to be unknown by the common American has become a common household term, all in the span of a few years. You may or may not use CBD, but you’ve still likely heard of CBD, CBD oil, and its benefits and uses. But, how did we get to this point? Follow along and we’ll walk you through all you need to know about the history of CBD.
A Quick Overview of CBD
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a product derived from hemp. It is a cannabinoid, a class of chemical compounds. It is often associated with marijuana, as cannabinoids are also present in marijuana. It is not, however, marijuana, as legal CBD in the United States must be less than 0.3 percent THC. THC is another class of chemical compounds present in marijuana – THC is the chemical compounds that cause the feeling of intoxication associated with marijuana.
In 2018, production laws surrounding hemp changed in the United States. Previously, commercial production and sale of hemp were not legal. Since 2018, both are legal, so long as there is less than 0.3 percent THC present. The hemp is then turned into CBD, typically into an oil or powder, and then sold in different products for a variety of uses. CBD users tend to use the products for pain relief, stress relief, sleep, and more.
CBD’s History: A Timeline
While hemp has been cultivated and used for over 10,000 years and cannabis’ cultivation and usage dating back to 2700 B.C. in ancient China, CBD is relatively new. It’s important to remember that CBD, cannabis, and hemp are not the same things. While cannabis and hemp may be quite old, modern uses of CBD have only been around for about 80 years.
1940: CBD Discovered
In 1940, Dr. Roger Adams discovered CBD when he isolated cannabidiol (CBD), the first cannabinoid, at the University of Illinois. Dr. Adams is also the scientist responsible for discovering THC. Though the discovery of CBD occurred in 1940, Dr. Adams and the team of scientists weren’t that aware of what they had done until a few years later.
1946: CBD’s Effects Tested
Dr. Walter Loewe wanted to test the effects of CBD, specifically whether it caused an altered state of mind or intoxication. In 1946, a lab test on animals confirmed that CBD does not, in fact, cause an altered state of mind.
1940s – 1960s: CBD Research Continues
Research and development on CBD continued from the 1940s to the 1960s, though no significant advances were made.
1963: CBD’s Stereochemistry Identified
1963 was an important year for CBD’s history, as it was the year that its three-dimensional structure was uncovered. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli organic chemist and professor, identified CBD’s structure in 1963, which was integral in understanding the effects of individual cannabinoids.
A year later, Dr. Mechoulam identified THC’s stereochemistry, further supporting that while THC can affect state of mind, CBD does not.
1960s – 1980s: Discoveries on CBD’s Uses
After Dr. Mechoulam’s discovery on CBD’s structure, research and development took off. British pharmacologists started releasing CBD oil intended for therapeutic uses. Additionally, more CBD tests were conducted on primates to observe the effects of the oil. In 1980, Dr. Mechoulam ran a study that identified cannabidiol as a factor in treating epilepsy.
1980 – Present Day: CBD’s Development and Legalization
Research and tests on CBD continued at full speed, especially in the United States. In the late 1980s, research on our body’s Endocannabinoid System and its interactions with receptors found in cannabinoids furthered the research on CBD. Legalization of medical marijuana and CBD began in certain states across the United States, starting with California in 1996.
The legalization of medical marijuana was an integral part of CBD research. With its legalization, scientists were also legally able to research cannabinoid’s medical uses. This is when research on CBD as a treatment for chronic pain, some neurodegenerative diseases, and epilepsy grew exponentially.
While Dr. Mechoulam’s 1980 study supported cannabidiol as a factor in epilepsy treatment, there still was a prominent stigma against cannabis at the time. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, this stigma started to fade as medical marijuana’s legality spread. Still, the stigma existed, as the Pew Research Center found that more than two-thirds of Americans opposed cannabis legalization between 1998-2003.
With more research, more development, and more time, the stigma continued to fade. Now, about 40 years after Dr. Mechoulam’s significant discovery, CBD is federally legal in the United States. There are a multitude of rules and regulations, as researchers continue to understand its scientific benefits to our bodies and minds. With its legalization, research on CBD will likely continue, as will the uncovery of its benefits and potential uses.