“I like to call it the super-nutrient, the super plant,” says Spike Mendelsohn, the Washington-based former “Top Chef” contestant behind fast-casual restaurants including Good Stuff Eatery. More recently, he’s a partner in the CBD-infused “wellness drink” Plnt Water, which comes in such flavors as turmeric and ginger, and matcha and mint and, for now, is available in a healthy-leaning fast-casual restaurant chain.
In terms of what’s actually legal, CBD operates in a gray area. Many Bay Area bars like Flore and Bottelón in the Castro started to offer alcoholic CBD drinks earlier this year until the laws got a little iffy this summer. Now you’re technically not allowed to put cannabis-based CBD oils and extracts into anything alcoholic due to slight traces of THC, but CBD derived from hemp is THC-free and thus OK for cocktails. At least that’s how establishments are operating for now.
What makes CBD so appealing is that it’s non-intoxicating, so it won’t get you high, though it “is technically psychoactive, because it can influence things like anxiety,” Jikomes said. Although much of the marketing blitz around CBD centers on the fact that you can take it without getting stoned, there isn’t much research looking at the effects of CBD when used in isolation, with a couple of exceptions. One is the use of CBD to treat seizures: CBD is the active ingredient in the only cannabis product that the Food and Drug Administration has signed off on — a drug called Epidiolex, which is approved for treating two rare forms of epilepsy. Animal models and a few human studies suggest that CBD can help with anxiety, but those are the only conditions with much research on CBD in isolation.
Based on reviews, smoking or vaporizing CBD vape oil seems to have less effects when compared to other methods of administering CBD, such as tinctures, capsules and sprays. On the flip side, others argue that smoking or vaporizing has less drawbacks than taking CBD orally, since ingesting CBD orally could result in inconsistent absorption and a delayed effect.
According to the federal government, specific components of the marijuana plant (THC, CBD) have medical value, but the plant itself does not have medical value. Uncle Sam’s single-molecule blinders reflect a cultural and political bias that privileges Big Pharma products. Single-molecule medicine is the predominant corporate way, the FDA-approved way, but it’s not the only way, and it’s not necessarily the optimal way to benefit from cannabis therapeutics.
Currently, the only official, FDA-approved use of CBD is as a component in a drug named Epidiolex, which will be used to treat severe forms of epilepsy in children and adults, and which will be, Carson hopes, available to patients by the end of the year. Carson says he developed an interest in CBD because parents of kids with epilepsy came to him having read about CBD’s potential benefits on the internet. “There’s lots of data now that I think really supports that CBD helps for epilepsy,” particularly in reducing the frequency of seizures, he says. Anecdotally, he noticed that the same parents reported another potential benefit associated with CBD: reduced anxiety. “I got the sense that some children did get benefits in terms of anxiety, and I think that’s where I wonder if for example CBD in coffee could potentially be helpful,” he says.
Complementing every small-batch roast is a full-spectrum CBD (Cannabidiol) extract that’s derived from organically-grown, outdoor hemp. While these extracts smelling of cherry and pepper are delicious in their own right, they can often overpower the original coffee notes. After years of experimentation and thousands of oftentimes unpleasant cups of coffee, we settled on a way to preserve the delicious coffee profile that we want to experience. It turns out it’s best to infuse hemp extracts directly into the naturally occurring oils expressed from the raw coffee beans during the roasting process.
Those warning letters aside, there’s not a lot of federal oversight right now over the claims being made or the products that are being sold. Cohen warned against buying CBD products online, because “there’s a lot of scams out there.” Yet his clinic sells CBD, and he admits, “I say ‘Don’t buy online,’ but ours is worth doing, because we know what we’re doing. We ship all over.”
Carson, too, speculates that CBD might be able to reduce some of the jitteriness associated with caffeine intake, thus complementing it rather than canceling it out. “I can’t say I’ve spent much time in New York, but when I was thinking about talking to you, I got this vision in my head of a stereotypical taxi driver drinking a huge cup of coffee and being really alert but irritable,” he says. “And now if you add in a little CBD, they’re really alert but maybe a little more calm, and not as apt to honk the horn. I think that’s a potential area where there could be something good that comes from adding CBD to the coffee.”
The only study that has tested the bioavailability of inhaled CBD is from 2014; it found a bioavailability of about 25 percent for 100 mg and 200 mg doses of CBD using a Volcano vaporizer. (The topical lotions are even less studied; there have been no clinical trials on them at all.) This is more efficient than ingesting CBD, in the same way that vaporizing THC is more efficient than eating it. To get an effect, you should ingest a different amount of CBD than you’d inhale ... but how much is that? How much is too much?
Our Editor’s Pick is the tincture from CBDistillery. This tincture is available in five strengths ranging from 250mg to 5,000mg, which accommodates a wide range of THC preferences, as well as 15 and 30 milliliter containers. The tincture has a price-point that is slightly below average, making it a good option for value seekers. The tincture, which is non-flavored, routinely undergoes third-party testing to ensure safety and high quality; the testing results are available on CBDistillery’s product pages.