CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound found in the cannabis plant. Both hemp and marijuana are a species of the cannabis plant, but that’s where much of the similarity ends. In Pennsylvania, CBD products bought over the counter that don’t require a prescription must be derived from hemp plants. They also must contain 0.3 percent or less of THC, the cannabis compound that, at much higher levels, gives marijuana users that “pot high.” That means, advocates say that you’re going to get relief from symptoms with zero psychoactive effects.
The 2014 Farm Bill, under President Barack Obama, allowed research institutions and state departments of agriculture to issue research permits for growing hemp, within limits. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp — and products such as the CBD oil which can be derived from hemp — from the Controlled Substance Act list of illegal drugs.
MARIJUANA VS. HEMP
The acronym stands for cannabidiol, a compound — or cannabinoid — found in cannabis plants. Both hemp and marijuana are species of cannabis found in the Cannabis sativa family -- but hemp and marijuana are not the same thing. They have differing levels of chemical compounds, for one thing. There are more than 100 known cannabinoids in cannabis plants. Two of the most commonly known are THC, the compound that gives marijuana users the telltale “high,” and CBD. Hemp contains a low level of THC — less than .3 percent — a level that’s set by federal and state law. Marijuana’s THC levels are much higher. Hemp does, however, contain higher levels of CBD, found mostly in the plant’s flower. And that’s the compound that CBD oil advocates tout as being helpful for conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to chronic pain.
Meanwhile, researchers have been holding off on hemp studies, because of uncertainties about whether restrictions would be reinstated. Expects more "eyes" investigating CBD as well as other cannabis compounds. Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program went into effect in April 2016. Patients who have one of the approved conditions must register with the state program, have an authorized physician certify a qualification, purchase a medical marijuana ID card, and purchase medical marijuana from a state-approved dispensary. CBD oil, however, requires none of that.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Use only CBD products that are laboratory-tested. Understand the "profile" cannabinoid listed on laboratory results; check testing to make sure the hemp plants were not grown with pesticides, and to check what kind of extraction method is used. Ethanol or carbon dioxide extraction is more expensive, she says, but preferable over brands that may use a substance like butane that can be more harmful.
Checking in with your regular physician is a good idea. CBD may have some interactions with medications you already take, increasing or reducing their effects.