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You can search Google and find multitudes of pages describing it, breaking it down, debating its effectiveness, the ethics of giving it to children and animals, anything and everything. Here, I'll provide a small overview of CBD. I recommend taking a trip down the internet rabbit hole for yourself to learn about it, talk with your doctors about it, and get in touch with others who have used it or can provide more answers for even more questions you may have.
So what is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis (this includes both marijuana and hemp), and one of the most prominent, next to THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol). Unlike THC though, it is non-psychoactive, and so is a very appealing option for individuals who would like to be able to use medical marijuana, but don't want the intoxication or "high." CBD is an extremely beneficial natural compound, and though the amount of research currently available is a bit slim, findings have reported that it has been used to treat ailments including physical pain, sleep issues, gastrointestinal problems, mental illnesses, and so many more. To explain the difference between THC and CBD, I've been simplifying it down to this comparison whenever I've been asked about it: think of THC as Pinnochio. He's curious, wants to have fun, is silly, and sometimes has a mind of his own, getting him into interesting predicaments. CBD is the Jiminy Cricket between the two of them. CBD can help keep THC in line (reduce a THC high), is clear and concise (no inebriation), is intelligent and thoughtful (rational, calm), and very responsible (generally not a bad idea). The two of them reinforce each other's weak spots and harmonize together into an even better team. They both have their individual benefits as well as working together very effectively.
Is CBD really legal?
This falls into a grey area of regulation and law. According to US Federal Law, Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, and illegal, right alongside heroin and meth. Despite this, it is currently legal in 29 states, with each state having their own laws, fees, and possession limits regarding use for medical and/or recreational purposes. CBD derived from marijuana is thus considered illegal on the Federal level. BUT, CBD derived from Industrial Hemp is legal in all 50 states. Industrial Hemp is classified as cannabis (an umbrella term classifying the family that includes hemp and marijuana) that contains less than 0.3% THC (marijuana plants are typically higher in THC content at 5% or more), and is used for a massive range of purposes. Hemp is a hardy plant and can actually be used as a soil rejuvenating, nutrient-replenishing crop in rotation with other farm crops. Not only that, but hemp is also better at filtering our air, converting 4 times more carbon dioxide to oxygen than trees, on top of being used in clothing, fuel, food, building materials, on and on and on. Cannabis is, essentially, the Superman of plants, by leaps and bounds. Regardless of the THC content (or lack of it) or the name you give it (hemp, cannabis, pot, ganja, medicinal marijuana, recreational weed, herb, etc.) it all gets stigmatized together as "the harmful drug known as marijuana" by our culture, making this topic the infamous grey area that it is. CBD derived from Industrial Hemp is legal in all 50 states.
How does CBD work, and what does it do?
A more recent discovery in science has been that humans and other animals possess a system that spans the entire body through our central and peripheral nervous systems, affecting our physical health, mental health, and overall wellbeing. The system, called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), is primarily composed of 2 types of receptors - CB1, more concentrated in the brain, and CB2, spread mostly through the immune system - that are affected by cannabinoids including THC and CBD. The role that our ECS has in our health can be summed up into one word: homeostasis. Its purpose is to return the body to a level of equilibrium, and to maintain that optimal balance for our health. It can be used to aid anything from quitting a smoking habit, breaking opioid addiction, athletic injuries, migraines, nausea, fibromyalgia, arthritis pain and stomach troubles, to epilepsy, stress, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks and schizophrenia. Pretty cool, right?
To cut it short here, cannabis is pretty incredible, and I mean that with all my heart. As a girl raised in the South and taught that all drugs are bad, including marijuana ('it will ruin your life and make you a braindead bum!'), it was extremely hard for me to become open enough to research cannabis for myself, and even more incredibly difficult when I found out some people that I knew would use it, or when I'd come face to face (more like nose-to-smell) with that skunk-like odor. It honestly took having my own personal experience with it to learn and see for myself what it is, and what it's not. And what it's not, is a dangerous drug - far from it. I categorize it with alcohol: for adults, to be used responsibly, and can be a nice way to enjoy an evening relaxing or relieve some stress, aches and pains.
If you'd like to do some research on marijuana or hemp for yourself, a great site to start with is NORML.org, an organization dedicated to educating properly about cannabis, working to reduce the stigma surrounding it and legalize its use.
You'll find highly recommended CBD products from a webstore called AceApe. It's an online marketplace that curates a huge selection of reputable CBD brands - each has been verified and lab tested to be accurate to their labels and claims of ingredient content - all in one place, so you'll easily and quickly be able to shop the highest quality brands that you can trust, as well as find new brands to love. Think of it as Amazon for CBD, without worrying if you're buying junk snake oils or questionable products. You'll only find hemp-based CBD in all its various, wonderful forms.