A Rose By Any Other Name
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is also a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are the powerful chemical compounds contained in the Cannabis sativa plant that provide amazing relief from numerous health problems, even conditions that will not respond to other treatments, and they do so with none of the side effects associated with pharmaceutical drugs.
The Cannabis sativa plant is sometimes called hemp and sometimes called marijuana. How it is referred to is determined solely by the amount of THC contained within the plant.
THC is psychoactive, and, although it has health benefits, it can make you feel euphoric, a very big no no! When the Cannabis sativa plant contains high levels of THC, it is called marijuana. When the Cannabis sativa plant contains low levels of THC it is called hemp. It’s just that simple. You could smoke a box car full of hemp and you wouldn’t get high. Both hemp and marijuana contain CBD to varying degrees depending on the genetics of the plant, and as you will soon find out CBD is miraculous!
It can be very difficult to tell the difference between hemp plants and marijuana plants, even though hemp plants, in some cases, have been bred to grow taller and have thicker stocks. Bottom line, they’re still the same plant. The only difference, as stated, are THC levels. To be really sure if its hemp or marijuana requires testing for the THC levels.
Call it a case of mistaken identity (it’s actually more sinister) but whatever the case, hemp’s similarity in appearance to marijuana proved to be disastrous for the American hemp farmer, and ultimately for the health and well being of us all.
So what happened? How did hemp become outlawed when for thousands of years it was part of our livelihood? Hemp fed us, clothed us, housed us, sailed our ships and healed our bodies. Hemp helped us survive and thrive in every way imaginable.
If you like conspiracy theories, this one’s a doozy, and all the more so because it’s true!
Early in the 20th century, companies began developing chemicals that were used in the processing of paper. DuPont was a leader in chemical development, not only for processing paper but also for pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, that were used extensively by the cotton industry. Cotton uses far more chemicals for farming than hemp. Dupont’s friend, William Randolph Hearst, invested in timber and mills to produce the paper for his newspaper, which was the largest chain in the U.S. His investments in the timber industry were backed by the Mellon Bank which also backed Dupont.
The owner of the Mellon bank, Andrew Mellon, was also the U.S. Secretary of Treasury at that time. Andrew Mellon’s niece was married to Harry Anslinger who had been the commissioner of the Alcohol Prohibition department of the federal government. Like everyone else he was out of a job after alcohol prohibition ended. To keep his nieces’ husband employed, Mellon created a new division of the federal government, the Bureau of Narcotics, and made Harry Anslinger the commissioner. Needless to say, Anslinger was delighted and would find a way to repay Mellon.
During the same time, machinery was being developed to make hemp processing easier and more efficient. This was bad news for the chemical, timber, and petroleum industries. Bad news for Dupont, Hearst and Mellon. Pharmaceutical companies that were creating new profitable synthetic medicines and drugs were also threatened by the popular and effective natural healing medicines derived from hemp.
Harry Anslinger heard rumors about Mexican immigrants smoking the flowers of the hemp plant. They had their own name for hemp, “Marijuana.” Anslinger saw an opportunity to put the Bureau of Narcotics, and himself in the spot light, and he had found the way to pay back Mellon. He used the Mexican slang, marijuana, in place of the word hemp, and then spread scary stories about “Negroes and Mexicans” becoming violent while smoking marijuana, labeling it an extremely dangerous narcotic. Racism was rampant so his scary stories made the public extra fearful.
Hearst’s newspapers got on board and printed numerous articles about “evil marijuana” and of people committing rapes and murder while under its influence. The lies sold a lot of papers but that wasn’t Hearst’s motive. He wanted to get rid of hemp and it worked. Of course the articles failed to mention the everyday uses of hemp (rope, fuel, textiles, food, and health, to name but a few). Hemp is without a doubt the world’s most diversified and useful plant. That didn’t matter, fortunes were at stake.
In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was signed into law, due in large part to the efforts of Anslinger and Hearst. Soon after, Anslinger ordered the hemp prohibition. He said his agents wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana, and that the farming of hemp made it too difficult to enforce the marijuana prohibition. That actually was true. Hemp and marijuana are the same plant just different expressions. However, the real reason hemp was banned, as we just learned, had nothing do to with its similarity to marijuana.
Dupont, Mellon, Hearst, and the Pharmaceutical companies breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was now illegal to grow hemp in the United States, except for a brief period during the second world war when farmers were allowed to grow hemp to provide badly needed fiber for the war effort. After the war the military was ordered to destroy all remaining hemp crops. Prohibition was the law of the land. Cannabis sativa was public enemy number one.
Fortunately there were a few brave souls that thought otherwise.
Renegade scientists, the kind that didn’t buy the party line, were starting to take a deeper look at the demon weed and what they found was profoundly different than what the government wanted the public to believe. A revolution had begun. Early studies showed that Cannabis sativa was not a dangerous drug, and in fact could benefit human health.
This was disturbing to say the least to a government committed to perpetrating a lie backed by draconian penalties for possession of even small amounts of Cannabis.
More and more studies showed that Cannabis had a wide range of medical benefits, and in some cases worked better than pharmaceutical drugs with virtually no side effects, as in the case of pain relief.
Penalties for possession were increased, more people were locked up. It didn’t seem to matter. It was the Sixties! Cannabis use was skyrocketing. Now the government needed “real science” to bolster their case for the evils of Cannabis.
The Government acted. The National Institute of Drug Abuse was ordered to subsidize studies that were purposely designed to prove the dangerous effects of Cannabis. It backfired. The studies actually showed even more health benefits of Cannabis and inadvertently led to a series of major discoveries about how the human brain worked!
And then the breakthrough! In 1990 the endo-cannabinoid receptor system was discovered.
The endo-cannabinoid receptor system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is a collection of receptors located in our brains, and immune cells that fit the active chemicals (cannabinoids) in Cannabis like a key in a lock. Our body was hard wired for cannabinoids!
Many scientists considered the endo-cannabinoid receptor system to be your body’s most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining health! Your endo-cannabinoid receptor system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment… Balance!
Disease, as the Asians have known for 5000 years, is a condition of your body being out of balance.
Western science had caught up. The cannabinoids found in Cannabis could help bring your body back into balance. Cannabinoids were not simply treating symptoms per se, like pharmaceutical drugs, cannabinoids were working holistically to heal your body by bringing it back into balance.
A more complete picture was emerging. Science knew what chemical compounds contained in Cannabis were active. They knew how to isolate them and, more importantly, how they worked in your brain and the rest of your body to produce extraordinary health benefits.
Research increased. The Government pushed back. It continued to deny research grants to universities. It threatened doctors with jail time and loss of their medical licenses if they dared recommending Cannabis to their patients. They raided clinics conducting studies, and of course, threw as many people in jail as they could.
It didn’t work. The public was now demanding access to Cannabis. Political action groups were popping up everywhere to legalize Cannabis for medical purposes. And they were somewhat successful. California became the first state to legalize the use of Cannabis for medicine in 1996. Others would follow, but it was still illegal in most states even though it was clear that Cannabis had effective medical applications. Hundreds of studies confirmed its remarkable health benefits.
People suffering from the terrible effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder finally found relief with Cannabis after all other medications had failed. AIDS patients wasting away actually gained weight while using cannabis. Cancer patients found relief from the terrible side effects of chemotherapy.
Something else was happening.
The Super Star
Whereas in the past scientists had almost exclusively studied THC, now another cannabinoid was gaining prominence, CBD. Studies were showing that cannabidiol (CBD) had far more medical applications than THC and, unlike THC, CBD was not psychoactive. It delivered without getting you high. This was a godsend for people who felt uncomfortable with the psychological effects of THC.
CBD actually counteracted the effects of THC. There was no temporary short term memory disruption with CBD as can sometimes happen with THC. CBD improved memory and clarity. Clinical studies for CBD increased dramatically. The list of conditions that responded favorably to CBD was staggering! Here they are in alphabetical order:
Epilepsy ad Seizures
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
The clinical studies on CBD and cannabinoids for these conditions can be found on PubMed, a free online service of the U.S National Library of Medicine. Thank God for the internet.
Oh by the way, another thing happened as scientific evidence mounted confirming the incredible effectiveness of CBD. While one branch of our Government, namely the DEA, was busy locking up users of Cannabis and threatening researchers of the devil weed, swearing that Cannabis had absolutely no medical applications and was a dangerous drug, another branch, The Department of Health and Human Services, was conducting its own research on cannabinoids in general and CBD in particular.
They were so impressed with what they learned that they did something unprecedented, and they did it with no press release. In fact what they did was virtually unknown to anyone except the few who pore over patent filings. The Department of Health and Human Services filed for, and were granted a use patent for cannabinoids!
Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants
US 6630507 B1
Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, DC)
Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH3, and COCH3.
CBD had become a super star among the scientists who conducted Cannabis research. The general public was steadily becoming more aware of the health benefits of Cannabis in general, but they knew very little specifically about CBD.
That was about to change dramatically.
Beginning in 2013, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent on CNN, produced a documentary on Cannabis entitled “Weed.” He began the documentary by apologizing for his earlier statements on Cannabis where he held, like most doctors and the public at large, that Cannabis was a dangerous drug and had no medical benefits. He had been wrong and his documentary was, in his words, to “set the record straight.” What his documentary showed was the incredible medical benefits of Cannabis and specifically CBD. He used, as an example, Charlotte Figi.
From the age of three months, Charlotte suffered from Dravet syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy. By the age of two, Charlotte started disconnecting cognitively and experienced autism-like behaviors: self-injury, violence and reluctance to make eye contact. By the time she was five, she was experiencing up to 300 seizures a week, many lasting hours at a time. She was on seven drugs, some of them heavy duty addictive ones such as barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. They’d work for a while, but the seizures always came back with a vengeance. Her condition was so severe that, at one point, her parents, Matt and Paige Figi, had signed a do-not-resuscitate order.
Charlotte was in and out of the hospital and lived in a wheelchair, unable to talk or even swallow.
Matt and Paige had exhausted every option and were told that nothing more could be done for their daughter. Luckily for Charlotte, they lived in Colorado.
After researching Cannabis and finding astounding testimonials, the Figis went about the extensive process of obtaining Cannabis oil that had a high CBD content for Charlotte. When they found it and got two doctor’s permission to give it to Charlotte, the results were immediate. Going from 300 seizures a week to not having a single one in the first seven days of treatment was a clear sign that the Figis had stumbled onto something extraordinary.
The CNN documentary was one of the most widely watched documentaries in history. The demand for CBD exploded. The documentary also featured the Stanley brothers, who were dispensary owners and small growers of the strain of CBD rich Cannabis that helped Charlotte.
Cannabis oil extracts were legal in Colorado and, immediately after the documentary aired, entire families were leaving everything, friends, jobs, relatives, and heading to Colorado to obtain the now famous Cannabis extract to treat their epileptic children. The demand was overwhelming for the Stanley brothers. Soon they had a huge waiting list of people who were literally begging for the oil.
The Stanley brothers ramped up production but it wasn’t enough. More and more people were demanding access to CBD. During his documentary, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on other serious conditions, and showed how CBD could help when nothing else seemed to work. Two more one hour documentaries followed that were equally popular. CBD went mainstream. The public wanted it now!
This was not lost on the business world.
The CBD Stampede
Entrepreneurs know an opportunity when they see it. The problem was that the CBD oil the Stanley brothers were producing came from medical marijuana. It was a strain that contained high levels of CBD and low levels of THC but it was still talked about as medical marijuana even though technically it was hemp.
The entrepreneurs had an idea. Hemp oil was legal and had been so for sometime after it had been challenged by the DEA and lost in court. Hemp oil contains almost no THC and is non psychoactive. The court found that it did not violate the Controlled Substance Act. The hemp oil that was sold in the United States at that time was imported because there was still a ban on hemp being farmed in the U.S. Hemp oil, if extracted properly, could contain CBD, lots of it!
No need to move to Colorado. No need to get a medical Marijuana card. The race was on to find foreign sources of hemp oil, and then import it to the U.S. and market it as a dietary supplement. The demand for CBD was enormous, the profits would be huge. And that’s exactly what happened. Sort of…
Companies were formed and some of them became publicly traded. Their stocks were promoted as investment opportunities. Hemp oil products said to be rich in CBD started showing up online. But the quality of the products varied widely. Most of the products came from hemp either grown in Eastern Europe or China. When the FDA did testing on some online CBD hemp oil products, they found that they contained very little CBD. Even worse, because of the contaminated soil that the hemp was grown in, some of the hemp oil products contained toxins and were making people sick. The public now had access to CBD products but it was a mixed bag.
And then a watershed event occurred.
President Obama signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, aka the “Farm Bill.” The Agricultural Act permits the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp in states where hemp has been legally approved to grow as long as the hemp grown complied with the conditions set forth in Section 7606 of the bill, “The plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
The hemp plant was no longer held hostage. The 70 year nightmare was coming to an end.
Experienced Cannabis growers began migrating to Colorado and Kentucky where hemp farming was state sanctioned. They formed strategic partnerships with local farmers. Today there are literally thousands of acres of hemp under cultivation both in Colorado and Kentucky with more states to follow. The demand for CBD rich hemp oil has grown astronomically. Thankfully now the public has numerous US grown hemp manufactures to choose from, but a word of caution is in order.
If you are planning to purchase CBD rich hemp oil do your homework. Make sure the company you plan to purchase from grows their own hemp right here in the USA. Make sure all of the CBD products they offer have verified third party lab tests for both purity and potency. And last but not least, make sure your prospective CBD company has been in business for at least 5 years. If you follow these simple precautions you should be able to locate online high quality hemp derived CBD products that truly deliver extraordinary health benefits. Good luck.