CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the two major cannabinoids present in the hemp plant (cannabis sativa L). It has a molecular structure very similar to THC (the other major cannabinoid).
Unlike THC, CBD has no psychotropic effect and doesn’t cause any feelings of euphoria "high" which are characteristics associated with THC.
It is, therefore, legal to use in most countries around the world including the United Kingdom.
There is, however, some confusion surrounding the legality of CBD depending on which type of hemp the cannabidiol is extracted from.
CBD extracted from low THC hemp is legal almost everywhere. Low THC hemp is also known as industrial hemp and true hemp.
CBD extracted from high THC hemp is currently illegal in some countries including certain states in the U.S.
In the United Kingdom, the legality of CBD depends solely on the concentration of THC present in the product.
Cannabidiol with THC concentrations below .2% is legal in the UK.
Cannabidiol with THC concentrations above .2% is illegal in the UK.
Some rogue traders and online stores are selling CBD products containing synthetic cannabinoids.
CBD containing synthetic copies of cannabinoids are illegal in the UK (they can also be dangerous and sometimes fatal to consume).
Why do we need legal CBD?
In multiple research studies, the effects of CBD are being investigated to assess its efficacy for treating various diseases including epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain, anxiety disorders and arthritis. CBD has low toxicity, its side effects are minimal for small to moderate doses, and for high doses, the only noticeable side effect is sedation before sleeping and occasionally an upset stomach. Sedation is not an issue for sufferers of insomnia who can use it without a problem.
CBD oils are a very effective way to administer your daily dose of cannabidiol. CBD paste base previously extracted from the hemp plant is usually blended with a carrier oil, such as extra virgin olive oil or hemp oil, to create a rich, nutritious non-psychoactive oil rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Cannabidiol oil is both convenient and discreet to use anywhere and at any time. The bottle usually incorporates a dropper that allows the user to measure the amount of CBD that is consumed accurately. The most efficient method of use is to place the oil directly under the tongue where it can be rapidly absorbed by the blood vessels in the mouth. It is not easy to specify an exact dose that will suit everyone, so consumers should try a little at first, start with a few drops drop of oil and wait to see what effect it has. If the result is not sufficient, you can slowly increase the dose and determine the exact treatment that gives you the desired effect. Each drop contains, approximately, 1mg of CBD. As a dietary supplement, it can be used twice a day.
Most CBD oils are 100% natural and do not contain any synthetic chemicals. The bottles should be stored away from heat and light, preferably in a cool place, to maintain their original composition and potency.
The CBD legality controversy
Cannabis oil has been in the spotlight for the past decade. These products tend to have high concentrations of THC that cause psychoactive effects and can affect mood and perception. Most people consume high THC cannabis oil for relaxation, recreation and to have some fun.
The psychotropic effects of illegal cannabis oil have created negative perceptions of CBD oil resulting in confusion over the legal status of non-psychoactive CBD oil. But should people seeking CBD oil for medical issues be subject to the same laws as those using illegal cannabis oil?
In some countries and some states in the US, CBD oil legality is a very grey area. It has become popular amongst sufferers of anxiety and is also used by those hoping to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Unfortunately, much of the evidence concerning the efficacy of CBD oil has been obtained through animal studies, as CBD researchers have not yet carried out a significant number of human trials. The majority of material published on the therapeutic benefits consists of preclinical investigations involving individual cannabinoid molecules researched using test tubes, Petri dishes, animal tests, and in some cases studies on the human cell line. Although all mammals have receptors on cells that pharmacologically respond to cannabinoid compounds, data from animal experiments and other preclinical research is not always applicable to humans.
Another determining factor is whether the CBD is derived from hemp or marijuana. Hemp belongs to the cannabis family but only contains small amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), usually less than 0.3% THC. Simply put, cannabis can get you "high", while hemp has such a low amount of THC that getting "high" from using it would be almost impossible.
The Difference Between CBD From Hemp and CBD From Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of the hemp (Cannabis sativa L) plant. Cultivated marijuana has high levels of THC, mainly concentrated in the flowers and the trichomes of the plant.
Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L), however, is principally grown for its fibre and seeds, has almost undetectable levels of THC and relatively high levels of CBD.
Hemp has been cultivated for centuries across the globe, mainly for industrial, food, and medical purposes. Hemp is currently utilised for the production of hundreds of types of products, such as rope, clothing, candles, paper, foodstuffs, oil and biomass for fuel.
Hemp is not a drug and, in fact, contains almost all of the essential nutrients that the human body needs on a daily basis to remain healthy.
By selective breeding of different varieties of Cannabis Sativa, and thanks to the development of genetics and cloning, it has been possible to produce hemp with an exceptionally high percentage of CBD. Health conscious consumers are now able to purchase an oil rich in CBD produced from legal hemp without being concerned about psychoactive effects.
So, is hemp CBD legal?
CBD oil derived from hemp is legal in most countries around the world, including the UK (provided it is sold as a nutritional supplement) and is entirely legal in all 50 States of the U.S.
The popularity of cannabidiol has increased dramatically since recent research showed that it may have the potential for treating a multitude of diseases and disorders including epilepsy, cancer, arthritis, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia and insomnia. Cannabis oil is also currently being used to help treat the symptoms associated with chemotherapy treatment and also to help with chronic pain. However, some people confuse hemp plants with marijuana plants, and there is still some stigma towards CBD derived from marijuana, but from a legal perspective, the CBD derived from hemp (cannabis sativa L) is entirely legal.
The use of CBD derived from marijuana has been controversial and has not become as widespread as CBD derived from hemp, although, in June 2018, the FDA approved the use of a drug known as Epidiolex, which will be used for severe cases of childhood epilepsy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex to treat two rare types of epilepsy that begin in childhood; Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome are both forms of epilepsy causing severe seizures in patients of two years and older.
Children who suffer from dravet syndrome "experience poor language development and motor skills, hyperactivity and difficulty to interact with other people,” said the FDA.
Like Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut also begins in childhood and causes multiple types of seizures. The majority of affected children experience learning and intellectual deficiencies and need help with their daily activities. Epidiolex is manufactured by the British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals, it is produced using purified cannabidiol, or CBD.
The approval of Epidiolex is a significant step forward for the legalisation of naturally occurring cannabinoids.
In the US, 29 states have fully legalized the medical use of all CBD products derived from either hemp or Marijuana: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. The territories of Guam and Puerto Rico also allow the use of CBD products on medical grounds.
The scientific community is conducting further experimental studies to determine the long-term effects, to enable CBD oil to be available in all states. If successful, CBD will be available to everyone in the US to use for a wide variety of illnesses and disorders, it will also be available to help improve the health of children and the elderly, and especially useful for epilepsy and other diseases where conventional drugs are failing to achieve positive outcomes.
Medical opinion about CBD
Doctor Eduardo Barragán, a neurologist at the Children's Hospital of Mexico, says “there are two important things in dealing with this form of CBD. When cannabis is smoked, there is combustion in which toxic gases are generated, but CBD oil is a more direct and less harmful way to consume it.
The use of CBD oil is safer than smoking the leaf because when you smoke cannabis, you inhale all that the plant has absorbed (pesticides, chemicals), unlike oil, which is produced by a filtration process that guarantees the elimination of most unwanted chemicals.”
And although the processed version is purer, the doctor also points out that "oil generates tolerance" like any other medication, and it may lose the effect. What we have learned with our patients is that people should take the oil for a week and suspend use for one day. It seems that the one-day abstinence facilitates cleaning of the cannabinoid receptors. So we can keep the benefit of cannabinoids without losing the effect."
Dr Alberto Gayoso, President of the Committee for medicinal products of the Medical College of Peru (CMP), highlights that cannabis has proven to be very safe and supported its use. "There are no harmful effects on organs like the kidneys, liver, heart, nervous system, and its lethal dose, if used in excess, is so high that virtually nobody would manage to consume it.
There are no records of people who have died eating cannabis. Compare that to the natural and synthetic derivatives of opium, which is used for chronic pain. Over 300,000 people a year die from opium type drugs. If we put CBD oil on a scale, the risk is low, and the benefit is high.
Laws should at the service of people. We all agree on the need for proper regulation and quality in the health service, but rules and regulations should adapt to the needs of the sick, not vice versa.