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CBD And Other Cannabinoids - Its Re-Emergence As Medicine

Cannabinol (CBN) was the first phytocannabinoid to be identified in the late 1800s. THC is now thought to be converted to CBN during the storage of harvested marijuana. CBD and other cannabinoids were first chemically synthesized in 1940 in the laboratories of R. Adams in the United States and Lord Todd in the United Kingdom, after its structure was initially depicted in the early 1930s by R. S. Cahn. Adams and his colleagues were the first to extract a second component, cannabidiol (CBD), from cannabis in the same year. Wollner, Matchett, Levine, and Loewe were the first to isolate THC from cannabis in 1942. THC and CBD are found in cannabis primarily as acids that are decarboxylated to become non-acids.

In 1963, the structure and stereochemistry of CBD were explained in Dr. Raphael Mechoulam's laboratory in Israel, and pure THC was extracted the following year. CBD was thought to be a non-active precursor to THC, therefore the research focused on THC initially. CBD is the most abundant phytocannabinoid in all plant species, including hemp, and its effects are relatively mild at first. Mechoulam and his colleagues led a number of research studies in the 1970s and 1980s that demonstrated the usefulness of THC and CBD in treating seizure disorders and other ailments. However, because cannabis is illegal in the United States and many other nations, research has been severely constrained. Nonetheless, it persisted in several European, United Kingdom, and Israeli laboratories, as well as in some American colleges. Both cannabinoids have been investigated for their anti-cancer potential since the 1970s, with encouraging results.

GW Pharmaceuticals was hired by the British government to produce cannabis for scientific testing in 1998. Dr. Geoffrey Guy, GW's co-founder, believed that CBD-rich plant kinds may be used to make an effective treatment for a variety of health problems with little to no euphoric effect. When he presented his findings at the International Cannabinoid Research Society the following year, it was clear that CBD not only counteracted the psychoactivity of THC in the plant, but also provided benefits of its own, indicating that it deserved to be tested for effects on a wide range of disorders.

A large farm of cannabis plants
A large farm of cannabis plants

The Introduction Of CBD Into The United States

When parents of children with seizure disorders learned about Mechoulam's research, CBD became more sought after in the United States over the last few decades. Conventional epilepsy treatments did not work for many of their youngsters. A neurologist named Catherine Jacobson was among them. She learnt about the research after traditional medications failed and was able to secure some CBD-dominant plants, which she used to make recipes that she gave to her little son with epilepsy in the form of drops. Her efforts to find the best medicine for him led her to her current role as head of clinical research for Tilray, a Canadian firm that develops pharmaceutical-grade CBD medicines. "What may have occurred if we had been able to do this [research] five years ago or six years ago—I know for sure he would be a different kid today if he hadn't experienced all that brain damage," she told a reporter.

Many people in the United States were following the results of ongoing research in other countries towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium, but there was no means to test for CBD content in plants because no labs could do so. Many people assumed that most domestic, popular recreational cannabis strains included only negligible quantities of CBD. Analytic labs began evaluating cannabis for CBD levels in 2009. A considerable level of CBD, 4 percent or more, was detected in about 1 in 600 samples, equating to a 1:1 or greater CBD:THC ratio.

Several hundred labs in jurisdictions where medicinal marijuana was permitted were soon calibrating cannabinoid ratios and spotting the occasional CBD-rich strain. "CBD-rich" was defined as 4 percent or more CBD by dry weight for data collection purposes by Project CBD.

According to Project CBD, a prominent online source of information and research on cannabidiol, "a number of CBD-dominant strains—with 20-to-1 CBD:THC ratios or greater were found, fostering a cottage industry of CBD-rich concentrates, oil extracts, and other CBD-rich products."

Since at least 2014, research on CBD and seizures in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy has been approved and funded by US government bodies. That year, CNN aired Weed, the first in a series of films about medical marijuana, which appears to have influenced many Americans' views on CBD in particular. The dramatic stories of children who were previously untreatable by current medications getting a chance at health and wellness made headlines and drew thousands of families to states that had legalized the drug.


CBD has grown more widely known and accepted internationally in recent years, as a growing corpus of research and tales about its use have been made public. Despite the legal ambiguity surrounding cannabinoids in the United States, CBD products are now more widely available than ever before.

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