Cannabis products get a bad rap in the United States today. Although officially, a majority of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana in some form (including cannabidiol), the federal government remains slow to change the law. Indeed, minor constitutional crises have arisen in several states where there is some legal means of acquiring cannabidiol, as federal agents have prosecuted vendors for violation of federal, even though they remained in compliance with state law.
But there is an important distinction to be made here, one that can significantly affect how the debate over legal cannabis is framed. It’s important to note exactly what is and is not legal, and what cannabidiol actually represents.
First and foremost, it’s important to note what cannabidiol does not represent–a way to get high. Like banana peels and nutmeg, you can smoke, snort, or swallow all the CBD you want, and you’ll never get high. All too often, cannabis legalization is seen in starkly recreational terms–and if you say you want cannabis purely for medical reasons, you risk being labeled a stoner looking for a legal way to indulge.
But this has nothing to do with what’s actually going on behind the scenes when it comes to this particular debate. CBD is actually one of several active compounds in marijuana, but it is not the one that gets users high.
That honor goes to CBD’s much more famous cousin, THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, as it’s known, is similar to cannabidiol in that it is a naturally-present cannabinoid in marijuana. But what it does is far different than THC–and not necessarily well-understood.
The majority of CBD’s effects on the human body are positive ones. In fact, it’s hard to cite a study that finds anything other than remarkable, low-side-effect health benefits associated with CBD. To date, it has been shown to be effective in the treatment of:
- Suppressing seizures
- Reducing vomiting
- Preventing psychotic episodes
- Combating the spread of cancer cells
- Fighting depression and anxiety.
This list is far from exhaustive, but it works excellently to demonstrate the wide range of CBD’s potential health benefits. Side effects are few, but can include unwanted wakefulness–though if you’re using marijuana plants and not extracts, the natural sleep-promoting THC in the strain can be effective in countering this.
Cannabidiol presents a major new addition to the modern doctor’s bag of cures. It is cheap to produce, works on a wide range of disorders and diseases, and is readily available in organic plant form when it is used as a whole plant (which is typically smoked). The only remaining roadblocks to its widespread adoption as a virtual panacea are legal ones–and those may vanish sooner even than we expect.
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