Your Guide to the History of CBD

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In 2019, a Gallup Poll was released that stated that one in seven Americans use CBD-based products. Some Americans are more likely to use CBD than others, though, with the highest use among younger Americans and those in the western United States.

To many, it seems like CBD became a huge phenomenon overnight. All of a sudden you can find CBD-infused products at just about every store you stop in at.

CBD history is actually more complex and interesting than you might expect.

Let’s take a deep dive to understand where this cannabinoid came from and how it got to its current prominent place in our society.

A Brief History of Cannabis

In order to understand the history of CBD, we need to rewind a bit and take a look at the history of cannabis overall.

Humans have been using cannabis for a long, long time. It is actually thought that hemp might have been one of the first plants that were ever cultivated. The usage of this plant dates back to at least the third millennium BC, and that’s only when it showed up in written records.

People have used cannabis throughout history as a food, as a medicine, for religious purposes, for recreational purposes, and also for fiber and rope.

It is known that cannabis was cultivated or used in ancient Japan, Korea, China, and India. It was also known to the ancient Assyrians and there is evidence it was used during the Kingdom of Judah.

Cannabis began to spread to other cultures somewhere around 1000 A.D. In some places in the world, cannabis has been banned since the middle ages. In the US, cannabis became increasingly restricted during the early 20th century, but in recent years a number of states have been decriminalizing and legalizing its use.

What Is CBD, Exactly?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. This is a cannabinoid, or active chemical compound, that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant.

It is the second most common cannabinoid in the plant after THC. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the plant compound responsible for the “high” that is associated with marijuana use.

CBD has become increasingly popular in the world of health and wellness. This is because there are a number of benefits of CBD that are very promising for a wide variety of ailments. While more scientific research is needed, there is a lot of optimism around the potentials of CBD to help with issues like chronic pain, anxiety, and more.

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CBD History: How Was It Discovered?

Using cannabis that is rich in CBD has a long history in herbal medicine. It is thought that, during the late 19th century, Queen Victoria used CBD-rich cannabis to deal with menstrual cramps.

The Discovery of the Existence of Cannabinoids

In 1839, a researcher and physician named William B. O’Shaughnessy published a study that discussed the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis. Almost a century later, discoveries began to be made in regards to the presence of plant compounds in cannabis due to the advancements in technology and research.

Robert S. Cahn made the first discovery of an individual cannabinoid about one hundred years later. He reported the partial structure of CBN (Cannabinol) and later, in 1940, identified the fully formed structure.

An American chemist named Roger Adams was the first person to successful isolate a cannabinoid. This cannabinoid was CBD. It is thanks to his research that THC was discovered as well.

Early Research Into Cannabinoids

At the early stages of cannabis scientific research, scientists knew little about the biological composition of the plant and cannabinoid structure.

In 1963, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam was the first person to make a breakthrough towards understanding what effect individual cannabinoids could have. This occurred when he correctly identified CBD’s stereochemistry.

He then discovered the stereochemistry of THC a year later. This revealed the direct relationship between THC and the euphoric effects of cannabis. This is also when CBD became disassociated with the notion of being mind-altering.

In 1978, a bill was passed in New Mexico called the 1978 Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act. This was a landmark victory that legally recognized that cannabis had medicinal value.

Dr. Mechoulam continued conducting scientific research on cannabis and CBD. A study during the 1980s resulted in promising finds in regards to the ability of CBD to treat epilepsy. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding cannabis during the time made it so this was not publicized as a medical breakthrough.

Interest in the therapeutic applications of CBD has been revitalized since then, though. As research continued to reveal more cannabinoids and more about cannabis and the endocannabinoid system in the body, the US was on the brink of an explosion of interest in CBD and cannabis.

The Rise of Interest in CBD in the US

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 with the passage of Proposition 215. Seven other states followed within a few years, these states being:

  • Oregon (1998)
  • Washington (1998)
  • Alaska (1998)
  • Maine (1999)
  • Hawaii (2000)
  • Colorado (2000)
  • Nevada (2000)

With legal access to cannabis in these states for medical patients, the research was also able to expand. This allowed researchers the ability to study the potential of CBD for the treatment of a long list of illnesses, such as epilepsy, chronic pain, and a variety of neurodegenerative diseases.

Since then, more and more states have been legalizing cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp became legal. This is what opened the doorways to the sale of CBD products because CBD can be extracted from hemp and is legal in many places so long as the THC levels stay under a certain percentage.

CBD Oil: Have You Tried It Yet?

The history of CBD is intimately connected with the long history of the relationship between humanity and cannabis. While there is still plenty of scientific research left to be done about this cannabinoid, there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about its potential.

Did you find this article on CBD history interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more fascinating and informative content!