OK, first things first. What is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound from the cannabis plant. It's a naturally occurring substance that's used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it's not psychoactive.
So, you're saying CBD won't get me high?
- Nope. The cannabis plant is made up of two main players: CBD and THC.
- CBD is non-psychoactive portion of the plant, so what that means is you won't have any effects like euphoria. You won't feel sedated or altered in any way.
- There are two possible exceptions to this. The first is that some people, for unknown reasons, just react differently to CBD, about 5% of people say they feel altered after taking CBD. Usually they're the same people who have side effects from Advil or Tylenol.
- You never know how your body will react to any new supplement, so when taking CBD for the first time, do so safely under supervision.
- It's also crucial to buy third-party-tested CBD for quality assurance. Because the FDA doesn't regulate CBD, it is possible to buy a product that is more or less potent than advertised, or even contains small amounts of THC.
Where does hemp come in to all this?
- You've probably heard the terms cannabis, marijuana, and hemp all tossed around in relation to CBD.
- The plant Cannabis sativa has two primary species, hemp and marijuana.
- Both contain CBD, but there's a much higher percentage in hemp, which also has very low (less than 0.3%) levels of THC compared to marijuana.
- When people talk about hemp oil, they're referring to oil extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. There are no cannabinoids—CBD or THC—in hemp oil. This ingredient is packed with healthy fats and often appears in beauty products for its moisturizing benefits.
What about my anxiety—can CBD help with that?
- CBD might be worth trying to manage symptoms of anxiety. CBD tells your body to calm down and reminds you that you're safe. It mellows out the nervous system so you're not in a heightened 'fight or flight' so people with anxiety may find it helps them feel more relaxed.
- Still, one of the biggest misconceptions about CBD is that it's a wonder drug. A lot of times people think CBD is a cure-all, and it's not. You should also have a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and good nutrition—CBD is not going to fix everything.
What should I look for when shopping for CBD products?
There are literally hundreds of CBD brands at this point. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping.
• What does the label look like? - We don't mean the color or millennial font. If it's a dietary supplement, it should have a back panel with an FDA disclaimer and warning section. Ideally, it would be preferable to have access to their third-party lab testing results too.
• Speaking of which: Has it been third-party tested? - Nearly every expert Health spoke to agreed that your CBD products should be tested by a third party to confirm the label's accuracy. This is a real concern in the industry—take the 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association study, for example, which tested 84 CBD products and found that 26% contained lower doses than stated on the bottle. Look for a quality assurance stamp or certificate of analysis from a third party (aka not the actual brand) or check the retailer's website if you don't see it on the product's label.
• What's the dosing?- This is a confusing one for many people. A lot of brands don't do a good job of clearly instructing their consumer on the dosing. When thinking about dosing, also consider whether your CBD is full-spectrum or isolate: Full-spectrum could include other cannabinoids like cannabidivarin or cannabigerol (this is important, since there's something called the 'entourage effect' when all together, they're more effective than any one of them alone,), while isolate is 100% CBD. Some people might only need 10 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD, but with isolate, even taking 80 or 100 milligrams might not have the same effect.
• Does it claim to cure any diseases? If so, hard pass. "You should avoid any company that makes disease claims. If so, it means they're either willing to break the rules or they're not aware of the rules.
• Are there additional ingredients in there? - As with any supplement, you want to know everything you're ingesting in addition to the main event. For example, "sometimes CBD manufacturers will add melatonin.
That all sounds good, but is it legal?
- First, a little background. Industrial hemp was legal in the United States until Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937. ("Some of our early presidents grew hemp," notes Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, a cannabis industry attorney based in Oklahoma.)
- Nearly 80 years later, the 2014 Farm Bill took the position that states can regulate the production of hemp and, as a result, CBD.
- Then last year, President Trump signed a new Farm Bill that made it federally legal to grow hemp.
- This means that, consumers everywhere, if they're compliant with their state, can grow hemp and use hemp products, and among those will be CBD."
- In other words, the latest bill removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA's, purview.
- Hemp can now be grown freely under federal law, which, of course, is huge.
- But while it's legal under federal law, it's up to each state to set their own policy.
- These policies vary widely. Marijuana and CBD are currently fully legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C.
- In 23 states, it's legal in some form, such as for medicinal purposes.
- Another 14 states permit just CBD oil.
- But both are illegal in Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota. For more information, the organization Americans for Safe Access has a helpful guide to the specific laws in each state.
Can you travel with CBD?
- That same 2018 Farm Bill means you can now travel between states with legit CBD products.
- Flying with CBD should pose no issues now.
- However, if you're traveling with a tincture, be mindful of TSA limits on how much liquid you can carry on an airplane.
- You can also mail CBD products, just like companies that comply with the Bill can ship their hemp-derived CBD products anywhere in the U.S.
Will CBD show up on a drug test?
- It should not, as long as you're buying third-party tested CBD with no added THC.
- But athletes, who often are required to take drug tests that are more sensitive, could potentially test positive for trace amounts of THC if they've been using CBD products.