Now, many people are understandably flummoxed by a very active campaign to convince the public that CBD is different depending on whether it’s derived from marijuana or hemp. Hemp and marijuana are both Cannabis. Hemp is Cannabis sativa, and marijuana is either Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. Hemp is simply the common and legal term for cannabis that contains less than .3% THC, and marijuana is the common and legal term for cannabis that contains .3% and more THC.
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.
Because it does not produce psychoactive effects and hemp is not a controlled substance, hemp-based products are legal to sell, buy, and possess in all 50 states. However, the law is a bit more complex when discussing CBD oils and other hemp byproducts. According to the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp should only be grown and cultivated for academic research purposes. This means that, technically, any hemp-derived oil that is not grown for these purposes would be illegal — though this law is rarely enforced. To make matters more complex, the laws are somewhat unclear in certain states. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky recently introduced legislation that would legalize all hemp products at the federal level, but this decision is still pending.
But, uh, what is it that CBD is supposed to do? I visited a cannabis dispensary in Boulder to find out what the hype was all about. After passing an ID check, I was introduced to a “budtender” who pointed me to an impressive array of CBD products — tinctures, skin patches, drink powders, candies, salves, massage oil, lotions, “sexy time personal intimacy oil” and even vaginal suppositories to treat menstrual cramps.
CBD does not appear to have any psychotropic ("high") effects such as those caused by ∆9-THC in marijuana, but may have anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic effects. As the legal landscape and understanding about the differences in medical cannabinoids unfolds, it will be increasingly important to distinguish "medical marijuana" (with varying degrees of psychotropic effects and deficits in executive function) – from "medical CBD therapies” which would commonly present as having a reduced or non-psychoactive side effect profile.
The overall effect of the latte was both calming and energizing. The feeling of being awake and wired, but not stressed, continued even after I’d finished my latte and was on the train back to the city. Normally, crowded trains make me anxious at best and irritated at worst, but even an obnoxious manspreader couldn’t ruin my good mood. I walked back to work with a smile on my face. However, after about an hour, my good vibes were gone, and I was back to feeling just as stressed as before.
Although there are a multitude of CBD products available on the market, CBD oil tends to be the most popular product among users. CBD oil is beloved for its easy-to-use formula and high bioavailability. Touted for its many effects on the body and mind, people use CBD oil for a variety of reasons — most often to increase general health and wellbeing.
Recent testing of cannabis products from Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries showed over 90% of tested products to contain HIGHER than normal contaminants and pesticide levels, despite organic claims. (The USDA National Organic Program does not certify organic claims on marijuana, and it’s actually not a legally permitted claim on these products.- FYI, I’m an certified IOIA, Independent Organic Inspectors Association organic processing inspector.) There’s no intrinsic difference between high-THC cannabis and low-THC cannabis that somehow renders one clean and one heavy with contaminants. As with every other crop, it is a matter of soil conditions, growing conditions and horticultural inputs.
“We’ve found that an effective dose for psychological issues, like stress anxiety, generally tends to start out at 6 mg and can go up to 20 mg,” says Zachary Clancy, a horticulturist and clinical herbalist at the Alchemist’s Kitchen, which sells a wide range of CBD goods at its retail store in lower Manhattan and also sells wholesale to restaurants. (Clinical herbalists can complete any of a variety of educational programs and apprenticeships to gain that title.)
Clancy says his dose estimates are based on a book called CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis: Healing Without the High. The co-author of that book is Leonard Leinow, the founder of Synergy Wellness, which calls itself a “hand crafted artisanal CBD cannabis collective.” He is not a doctor or a scientist, but he is a sculptor of erotic bronze pieces, like a yin-yang symbol made up of two interlocking penises.
You then take your first drop of CBD oil, wait 45 minutes, then ask the questions again. If you feel no different and there’s no change in the way you answer those questions, you increase the dose by small increments until you do notice a difference. You can continue this process over several days – and at some point, you’ll find that taking more doesn’t change your scores. That is your minimum effective dose.
Cannabis has been used medicinally for centuries, as a sleep aid, a pain and nausea reducer, to relieve anxiety and other mood problems. In the mid-1960s, scientists identified the first cannabinoid. Since then, scientists have gone on to identify more than 80 individual cannabinoids and continue to investigate them for their potential symptom-relieving and disease-fighting abilities.
As a consumer, you can look at the manufacturer's website to see whether they batch-test their products, or ask them directly. You could also send a sample of your CBD oil to a testing facility yourself, something Bonn-Miller says he would do if he were trying to treat someone with a severe issue such as epilepsy. Testing can also determine whether the product contains pesticides, heavy metals, or other toxins.
In most cases (and in all cases in which the coffee shop doesn’t want to risk being sued), coffee shops can’t advertise CBD as doing much of anything, one way or another. While clinical trials attempt to determine an effective dose for a particular condition, says Esther, the growing “wellness empire” is free to leave the effects to your imagination. “People who are selling CBD don’t even have to make specific claims. The relationship between the actual amount of CBD and the effect doesn’t have to be very specific, because there is no specific effect that they’re talking about,” says Blessing. “So if I have a CBD latte, I might feel a little relaxed, or a little less neurotic, or who knows.”
While researchers are calling for more robust studies on the role of CBD on mood disorders, there is promising research that points to CBD’s role as an anxiolytic – which means it has anti-anxiety effects. Another study showed CBD to have antidepressant effects comparable to those of the prescription antidepressant Imipramine. We noted above that CBD increases levels of glutamate and serotonin – and it’s these same neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in mood regulation.
Most CBD oils are available in round-number concentrations such as 250mg, 500mg, and 1,000mg. While these strengths accommodate many CBD users, they may not be sufficient for those with preferences that fall outside round numbers. NuLeaf Naturals offers a less conventional selection of concentrations: 240mg, 725mg, 1,450mg, 2,425mg, and 4,850mg. This range ensures that most users will find a strength that works for them.