Cannabis has been cultivated and recognized for its therapeutic benefits for thousands of years. The first recorded medical use of cannabis dates back to 2737 BCE and Chinese Emperor Shen Neng, who found the plant beneficial for treating a variety of ailments including pain relief, gout, rheumatism, and to relieve stress. More recently, cannabis was widely recognized for its medicinal benefits with specific uses and preparations, which were first described in the United States Pharmacopoeia in 1850.
Federal restriction in the United States on the use and sale of cannabis first occurred in 1937 and eventually led to the prohibition under federal law with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Cannabis became listed as a schedule one drug, the most restricted category reserved for drugs with “no currently accepted medical use.” As a result, the cultivation, sale, and use of the plant became a criminal offense.
While cannabis is one of the first plants in history to be used for its medicinal qualities, the plants listing under the Controlled Substances Act effectively halted research into the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, was first identified in the 1940s and is one of the two most well-known cannabinoids. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s euphoric quality, CBD has no psychoactive effects and is best known for its perceived medical benefits.
CBD works by acting on the endocannabinoid system, a system of receptors found throughout the body, including the brain, central and peripheral nervous systems. Research has found that the endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in regulating the body’s functions, maintaining health, and preventing disease. Naturally occurring substances in the body called endocannabinoids, and CBD found in marijuana, have proven to be major effectors on the endocannabinoid system.
A recent resurgence of interest in the medicinal properties of cannabis has thrust CBD into the medical spotlight. Research, as well as consumer testimonials, suggest that CBD can help.
Finding CBD can be easy. Retailers like Sprouts Farmer’s Market, local chiropractic offices, and even Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co sell a variety of top-rated and tested CBD Oils, creams, pills, and more.
While CBD has been in the news for years, the cannabinoid gained national attention in June of 2018 when Epidolex became the first approved U.S. Food and Drug Administration drug containing purified CBD derived from cannabis. Epidolex is a breakthrough CBD oral-based medication for treating seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
Investors Interest In the CBD World
The CBD industry received a significant boost with the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the farming of industrial hemp, as well as CBD derived from hemp. Consumer interest in CBD combined with current research and FDA approval of the first cannabis-based medicine has captured the attention of investors around the world. Industry experts predict that sales of CBD will have an annual growth rate of over 100% and that sales in the U.S. will surpass $20 billion by 2024.
In spite of all the research and optimism surrounding CBD, many investors were surprised when, in November of 2019, the FDA released a consumer update suggesting that CBD may be harmful.
The FDA warning stated that Epidolex is the only cannabis-based product to be approved and that “we want to be clear that a number of questions remain regarding CBD’s safety.” Additionally, the FDA stated that CBD could cause liver damage, have dangerous side effects when taken with other medications, and can interact with alcohol and other depressants, causing drowsiness and possibly leading to injuries.
Although many investors have expressed exasperation with the FDA’s latest statement, given the federal government’s long history of vilifying cannabis, it should come as no surprise. While history and research suggest that CBD is an effective treatment for a variety of ailments and diseases, and beneficial to overall health, the question remains as to how long it will be before the FDA accepts the science begins to regulate the CBD industry.