Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 113 naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids. It comes naturally from the Cannabis sativa plant, which also known as the Hemp plant or Marijuana plant. CBD, and its cousin Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most widely known cannabinoids. While THC is known to get you "high", CBD does not have the same psychoactive effects but they both have many therapeutic properties - more on this below.
While "marijuana" and "hemp" come from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, they have some key differences. Hemp, also called industrial hemp, is one of the oldest plants known to man - dating back to 8000 BC. The plant itself is typically tall, thin, and cultivated to produce things like: food, oils, paper, other textiles, and high CBD extractions. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, are bred for the high THC content in their flowers. Levels of THC in cannabis is how the different strains are distinguished. Legally, hemp is defined as having 0.3% or less THC.
The popularity of using Cannabis isn't surprising once you understand how the body interacts with it. We now know that the bodies of all mammals have a complex system, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), that has receptors in the body which bind to cannabinoids like CBD and can affect the immune system, nervous system, and the body’s organs in very positive ways. The ECS has been described by a leading scientist as: "one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health ."
Cannabinoids are diverse chemical compounds that interact with the human body. When they come from nature, they are referred to as "Phytocannabinoids" and they occur in various plants, but most notably in the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD and THC are the most widely known cannabinoids and they act on our cell's cannabinoid receptors. This virtually affects all parts of the body, leading to profound impacts on our physical and mental well being.
Even though the ECS was scientifically discovered in the 1990s, the effects of cannabinoids have been experienced for millenia. Now, modern scientific research methods and technology are giving us more empirical evidence on the effects that this system and taking CBD has on the body and mind. In some sense, it is eerie, the relationship that exists between these natural compounds and our bodies.
Unfortunately, laws associated with the cannabis plant have left so much more to be desired in terms of the scientific things. The good news is that this is all changing very quickly and research has exploded. In the next few decades, we will learn more and more about how it all works and why it is that we get the benefits we get.
Some of the things we now know:
Yes! The 2018 Farm Bill set a statute that legalized the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) as long as it contained no more than 0.3% of THC. Now, all parts of the hemp plant are federally legal to grow and utilize for commerce.
At the state level, federal law supersedes state law per the constitution. From a regulations perspective, these products are regulated as supplements .
Just prior the 2018 Farm Bill:
We had to spend quite some time trying to figure this out ourselves given the complexity of the question. First it is important to make the distinction between CBD derived from Hemp VS Marijuana. Under federal law, “hemp” is defined as Cannabis sativa plants with less than 0.3 percent THC. Anything with more is “marijuana.” The 2014 Farm Bill effectively made cultivation of hemp legal, but the DEA's scheduling of the plant created ambiguity. There have been further rulings, for example, a Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the DEA could not list hemp-based products under the Controlled Substances Act, thus upholding the 2014 Farm Bill legislation. The 2018 Farm Bill will officially remove Hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and eliminate any legal ambiguity.