Although the cannabis plant has been around for centuries, research on the plant is still very much in its infancy. Years and years of cannabis prohibition, which we are still currently experiencing, has made conducting research on the plant hard, but not unattainable. Even though research on the cannabis plant, including its cannabinoids like CBD, still has a very long way to go, there has been important research done. In this article, we’re going to cover topics like:
- What is the history of CBD?
- When was CBD discovered?
- Where did CBD originate?
- The timeline of CBD legalization
What is CBD?
Just so we’re all on the same page, CBD is one of the 100+ cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in the cannabis plant. Short for cannabidiol, the cannabinoid is mostly known for its supposed calming and anxiety reducing effects. The whole reason behind why we can feel the effects of CBD lies in the hands of the Endocannabinoid System, ECS for short. This system helps our body to maintain homeostasis, regulates our hormones, controls our immune function, and so much more.
Current research on CBD suggests that the cannabinoid doesn’t interact with the ECS in the same way its sister cannabinoid THC does. Research suggests that CBD modifies our receptors’ ability to bind to different cannabinoids. Foria Wellness suggests that CBD may be able to influence “other types of receptors, while also enhancing your natural levels of endocannabinoids by occupying certain enzymes.”
CBD History Timeline
2737 B.C. - According to Medium, the very first documented use of cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back to 2737 B.C. when Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung used the plant in a tea to help him with various ailments he was experiencing, such as malaria, memory issues, gout, and rheumatism.
1839 - Irish physician William B. O’Shaughnessy published a scientific study that investigated the cannabis plant’s potential therapeutic effects and benefits. This was the first study of its kind, and after publication researchers at the time began to consider potential medical applications of the plant. In his study, O’Shaughnessy investigated the early effects of cannabis and described its potential to be used under medical applications, specifically as an anesthetic.
1937 - The Marihuana Tax Act was officially enacted, which effectively made cannabis illegal at the federal level. Medical use of the plant was still permitted, but new fees and regulatory requirements made its use close to impossible.
1940 - Over a whole century later, British chemist Robert S. Cahn discovered the partial chemical structure of the cannabinoid CBN, short for cannabinol, and identified its complete structure later in the year.
1942 - American chemist Roger Adams discovered and successfully isolated the first known cannabinoid CBD. Later on in his research, he also successfully isolated THC.
1963 - Research on cannabis and its cannabinoids only continued. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made the first official scientific breakthrough in cannabinoid research when he discovered the stereochemistry of CBD.
1964 - Mechoulam discovered the stereochemistry of THC. He officially concluded that CBD was a non-psychoactive compound, as THC has psychoactive effects.
1969 - The Marihuana Tax Act was struck down by the Supreme Court, stating that it violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination. This effectively made cannabis federally legal from 1969-1970.
1970 - The Controlled Substances Act is officially enacted. This reversed the Supreme Court decision in the previous year and effectively classified the plant as a Schedule I drug, “determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose.” This made the plant illegal at the federal level.
1978 - Mechoulam continued his research on the plant through a study conducted by him and his research team on the potential effects and benefits of CBD in treating epilepsy. In his study, Mechoulam’s team administered 300 mg of CBD to eight participants on a daily basis for four months. After these four months, half of the participants stopped having epileptic seizures all together, while the others showed a significant decrease in the amount of seizures they exhibited. It was also during this year that New Mexico passed the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, which was a bill that legally recognized the medicinal value of cannabis.
1996 - The state of California passed Proposition 215, which made it the first state to legalize medical marijuana.
1998 - Oregon, Alaska, and Washington legalize medical marijuana.
1999 - Maine legalizes medical marijuana.
2000 - Hawaii, Nevada, and Colorado legalize medical marijuana.
2014 - The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is passed, prohibiting the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis laws.
2018 - The 2018 Farm Bill is officially passed, legalizing low-THC hemp (less than 0.3%) at the federal level. This bill also officially descheduled hemp-derived CBD from the Controlled Substances Act.
The Future of CBD Research
In recent years, research on CBD has surrounded topics such as the potential application in ailments such as chronic pain, epilepsy, and multiple neurodegenerative diseases. As time goes on, CBD and the cannabis plant as a whole continues to become more accepted, which lends a helping hand in research as well. Although a clear future of CBD research isn’t certain, we expect there to be continued research on the medical applications of the cannabinoid, as well as its application in skincare.
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