Here’s what we do know: The cannabis plant contains a wide variety of chemical compounds, many of which fall under the broad category of cannabinoids. There are more than 100 — exactly how many, we’re not sure. The best-known and certainly most profitable are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both of these compounds stimulate the same receptor in the brain, called CB1, but have differing effects on the brain. Researchers aren’t totally sure why.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of dozens of non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Cannabidiol, and all the other cannabinoids, were patented by the United States Government in 2003 as neuroprotectants and antioxidants (Patent No. 6,630,507). Cannabinoids are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the body. CBD and other cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that display potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. They can promote the body’s healthy regulation of the central nervous, immune, and endocannabinoid systems.
Bushwick coffee shop Caffeine Underground made waves a few weeks ago when it came to light that they were serving CBD-infused coffee drinks. Now, it looks like others are getting on board with cannabidiol: Greenpoint’s Antidote Apothecary and Tea Bar has started selling CBD-infused coffee beans, with drinks coming soon. With a trend clearly in the works, I was intrigued enough to head to Caffeine Underground to try a CBD-infused latte for myself.
The Alchemist’s Kitchen makes it a point to tell customers everything they know, or think they know, about CBD, and to emphasize that if CBD is going to be a regular part of their lives, they should consult with a doctor to make sure they won’t have any adverse reactions. Your bodega guy, who’s selling a little jar of CBD oil right next to the Dentyne Ice gum, almost certainly isn’t doing the same.
But it’s not just that coffee shops don’t have to be specific about what CBD in a latte is supposed to do, and thus don’t — legally, they can’t. “Once anyone, outside of the one FDA-approved medication, says ‘Hey, if you drink this, it’ll cure your anxiety, or your seizures, the FDA is going to come knocking at that point,’” says Carson. When shops offer CBD-infused products, then, they are relying on the customer — and perhaps the placebo effect — to fill in the blanks.
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