CBD oil (cannabidiol) is regularly touted as a panacea for all sorts of maladies, illness and disorders, but does it work and is it legal? The short answers are: for some disorders, it works to treat symptoms, and it’s legal—mostly. First, note that CBD oil isn’t part of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana relies on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being present in medication. Put simply, THC isn’t CBD. CBD also isn’t cannabis oil. The names are similar and can lend to confusion, but the chemicals are different.
CBD oil is entirely non-intoxicating. Derived from parts of the hemp plant which contain no THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, cannabidiol works to relieve inflammation and calm nerves that are over-reactive to pain signals. Within the brain and spine, CBD helps regulate complex chemical messengers that regulate the body’s pain-control system. THC, on the other hand, stimulates the release of the body’s own natural pain relievers. CBD oil has also been linked to lowered levels of anxiety.
Is It Legal?
The legality of CBD is a bit murky. It’s on Schedule I of the FDA’s Controlled Substance Act, but there have been few cases of prosecution of CBD oil use, although there have been a few (very few) raids on stores selling CBD oil in the past. However, just this month, the FDA approved Epidiolex, an anti-seizure medication, for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, rare and devastating forms of childhood epilepsy. CBD makes up the bulk of Epidiolex, in a highly refined and measured form, so the FDA will have no choice but to re-schedule CBD. Which tier of schedules CBD ends up on will determine its general legality. At the moment, CBD derived from hemp is legal in 50 states. There is, however, a caveat in 33 states: CBD oil must be derived from sources with less than .03 percent THC.
This month, the Senate passed its version of a farm bill through that legalizes products from hemp. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has championed the project, and although the emphasis has been on a multiplicity of products, the most likely outcome is the full legalization of CBD oil. Kentucky, home state of McConnell, is the second largest US producer of hemp, so the future of CBD availability looks bright.
Over a few more years, we can expect to see the best uses for CBD oil emerge from more studies. It’s likely that those areas already identified will top out the lists.