Wait a Minute! Is CBD Even Legal?
CBD- or cannabidiol- is beginning to make a name for itself across the globe. Found in significant quantities within the cannabis Sativa plant (commonly known as hemp), CBD has incited a wide range of discussion; it has also invoked a wider range of debate and controversy around its legality.
When we look at how the media and politicians have labelled the recreational use of marijuana as something which could cause psychological downfall or as an addictive, harmful and, subsequently, illegal substance, it doesn't take a genius to figure out why so many people are wary of cannabis (and all its associated components). Even in countries where cannabis (or CBD) is legal, public unrest concerning safety and health is still a concern.
To cut a long point short, cannabis is illegal, and CBD is legal in most countries around the world. While recreational use of cannabis is illegal around the EU, many countries have decriminalised use of cannabis, even recreationally. The few countries (worldwide) who have legalised cannabis (certain states in the USA, Canada, Uruguay, South Africa, and so forth) still vary in terms of legalities concerning the commercial sale of cannabis.
Narrowing our gaze on the EU, general regulations govern punishment and restrictions on CBD in most countries. You might be aware of the Netherlands, where cannabis is legalised (especially for consumption in coffee shops) but that's pretty much it for the EU and recreational cannabis use. Further policing of CBD specifically is regulated from country to country.
Some countries require CBD to be taken on a prescription-only basis. Some countries ban full-spectrum CBD products (these are CBD products with small/trace amounts of THC- the psychoactive ingredient which induces the 'high' associated with smoking cannabis). Some countries have completely banned the sale and consumption of any cannabis product, including CBD products: Slovakia, Russia, Iceland, Bosnia and Albania are examples of places which have banned all cannabis products.
The Popularity of CBD
Despite the diverse range of laws and opinions, CBD has become a gripping global trend, easily streaming into lifestyles and daily routines like a gushing wealth of water. From international celebrities like Kim Kardashian to articles highlighting its potential as an agent of balance and a way to recenter our lives around what really matters.
The social curiosity and fascination around CBD has also manifested in more global google searches. From 2014, CBD has been on the upward trend for google searches (with a slight fall in 2019, during which there was a federal intervention- now proven to be misidentified- around the safety of the hemp plant). Padding up with more solidifying statistics, it is also estimated that 2.5% of the global population consumes marijuana, with 60% of the American population desiring legalisation in 2016. This high percentage most likely stems from the discovery of CBD as a balancing agent, with 81% of respondents in the Quinnipiac University poll favouring the legalisation of cannabis.
Public opinion is one thing, however. Hesitations and questions around CBD and its relationship with the law are pretty standard. And, with the amount of changing research in the past few years, seemingly disputing everything the collective 'we' grew up believing about the terms' cannabis' and 'marijuana', even the most forward-thinking brains can become confused. As it stands, the varying opinions around CBD's safety status in different countries make the legalities of CBD itself challenging to pin down.
THC and The Legalities of Cannabis
We've discussed the legalities surrounding CBD. But what about the hundreds of other components in the cannabis Sativa plant? We must consider the effects of these cannabinoids and their impact on the legalities concerning CBD and cannabis.
The cannabis Sativa plant contains these main chemical compounds:
Out of a wealth of cannabinoids found in cannabis Sativa, there is one genuinely controversial compound that stands out. The famously psychoactive component, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is the reason why cannabis has been labelled as a 'drug'. THC is the main reason for all the controversy, the chemical responsible for giving cannabis its real psychoactive quality, and the reason why cannabis has such a bad rapport with society. It should come as no surprise, then, that THC has a much rockier relationship with the law than CBD.
In the EU, for example, many countries do not sell broad-spectrum CBD oil due to it containing trace amounts of THC (UK law, for example, only allows broad-spectrum oil with under 0.2% THC content). Although the THC quantity in most commercial broad-spectrum oils has too little THC to impact the body in any way significantly, many countries simply do not condone THC in any product or in any form.
The Effects of THC
The science behind the psychoactive effects of THC relies on the fact that THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors to a higher degree than usual. As a consequence, THC can influence pleasure, thoughts, memory, and concentration to a disruptive degree.
Science has also determined that THC usage can change the way the hippocampus functions, which is responsible for concentration, focus, and formation of memory. THC inhibits a person's capability to complete basic tasks. This tricky little psychoactive chemical is also responsible for disrupting the functions of the cerebellum and basal ganglia; responsible for coordination and reaction time, thus slowing down reflexes and making you feel like you're moving underwater.
The 'high' aspect? THC is also responsible for the release of dopamine, causing feelings of pleasure. This is the reason why smoking or ingesting cannabis can be addictive. Research shows us that these feelings of pleasure- or reward- can be habit-forming, inciting dependence on the chemical to release dopamine and trigger the reward system in the brain.
We can undoubtedly lay claim that THC's ostentatious impact has somewhat doused CBD's fire. Yet, as recent and renewed interest in wellness, balancing and centring the body and mind has grown to a fever pitch, CBD is compelling people to look up and listen to what it has to say.
The Effects of CBD
Unlike THC, CBD has no hallucinogenic effects on the brain. This is, partially, the reason why countries are allowing it to be a legal product.
CBD has no real claims to help anyone, medically. However, CBD has been shown to have a balancing effect, which can improve and assist a daily lifestyle. CBD can be applied topically, vaped, or ingested.
When it comes to applying the product topically, CBD has been shown to have some anti-acne benefits, as well as this, CBD is rich in antioxidants and anti-ageing properties (perfect for smoother, glowing skin) and soothe any flare-ups, such as redness or rashes.
But what CBD carries about all, is the potential to be an antioxidant powerhouse with deeply nourishing, hydrating effects on the skin. Keep an eye out for MANTLE’s CBD-skincare, coming soon to allow your skin to reap the balance CBD can bring.
More businesses, with wellness at their core, are looking at CBD to bring more balance into their lives and skin. New information about CBD's role in helping to balance and centre is being released as we speak. CBD's position as a balancing agent has opened it up to a new level of legality in some countries.
Part of this research relies on the break-down of the cannabis Sativa plant; the subsequent separation and analysis of each compound and its uses.
But, as stated, this research is pretty new-found. It is research which requires letting go of a lot of previously held beliefs; releasing the tight fist which has for so long clutched the words' cannabis' and 'crime', in its stronghold.
The History and Crime of Cannabis
In ancient Asia, cannabis was grown and cultivated for its wellness potential; way before we, at MANTLE, grabbed onto the idea that CBD could be used for a wide range of purposes, people in 6000 BC were indulging in it. The Middle East, in the 1200s, found pleasure in the smoking of hashish (cannabis with a much higher THC level than in your general day-to-day strain of marijuana). To this day, a centuries-old cannabis-infused drink (known as Bhang) is ingested in India. Circling to the West, the cultivation of hemp for textiles and rope came to the attention of colonisers. A lot of the slave-trade was built off a Western desire for hemp.
Cannabis's historical roots don't stop there. In the 20th century, the drug dropped in status. Cannabis wasn't known as marijuana until the 1900s, when the Mexican Revolution occurred, causing an influx of Mexican immigrants to travel to the USA. From then on, the Latin word 'cannabis' became more commonly referred to by its Spanish translation, 'marijuana'. Not surprisingly, the connection between this 'low-status' drug and disenfranchised Mexican immigrants became forcibly jammed together like two odd puzzle pieces. The violence resulting from was not accidental.
Hatred was not only reserved for Mexicans. By the early 1900s Marijuana also grew to become a drug associated with African Americans. In the 1930s, heavily politicised anti-marijuana spiel was being used to directly condemn people of colour, with heavy suggestions that they were responsible for using, and dealing, marijuana. Non-white communities were monitored for drug use; this resulted in higher incarceration rates for Black and Mexican people.
It is essential to see how this slow but insidious series of events have seeped into the modern-day. The Clinton's 1990 'War on Drugs' found poorer communities of colour being incarcerated at shocking rates for low-level crimes, with statistics showing that Black people have been arrested at 3.7 times the rate of white people in the US alone. The suspicion and uncertainty around cannabis- and all its related chemicals and compounds- is undeniably rooted in its strong political (and racist) reputation. It is hard to shed the weight of the social injustices associated with cannabis. It is also hard to ignore the heavily racialised history associated with the action of criminalising cannabis.
Therefore, it is no wonder that CBD still floats on murky legal waters; many of its associations can be traced back to peaks of unfair accusations, structural racism, and mass incarcerations of minority groups.
The Research-Based History
Cannabis's dark political past doesn't quite make it to the research side of its history.
In 1839, William B. O'Shaughnessy, a medical researcher, worked with cannabis. This was before the discovery of individual cannabinoids, but we know, now, the truths behind his conclusions were really about CBD. His study invited later research into the therapeutic possibilities of the cannabis plant.
It was not till a century later, when British Chemist, Robert S. Cahn reported a structure of cannabidiol. CBD was discovered, as its own full compound, in 1940.
In 1963, Dr Raphael Mechoulam made the breakthrough discovery towards understanding the effect of THC. Mechoulam's keynote speech focused on the history of cannabis, in which he acknowledged that the ancient Syrians had used cannabis for its balancing properties, before delving into his main speech. His speech lingered on all the properties of the two compounds CBD and THC, before explaining the benefits of the 'entourage effect' in detail.
It was not until 1978, when the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act was passed, until CBD was fully ‘discovered’.
CBD and Regulation
In terms of the FDA, the agency has acknowledged the recent interest in CBD (as a lifestyle supplement) as viable.
It should be noted that the FDA's disapproval centres around the potential for miscommunication, rather than specifically at the compound itself.
If you haven't already gathered, the regulations around laws concerning CBD are, at best, chaotic. It was only in February 2019 that European Parliament recommended a coordinated regulation of cannabis products across the EU. Before this, a lot of dupes and unreliable CBD products were being sold.
While this set CBD back a few steps in terms of public trust, ever-changing regulations have allowed for CBD to be sold by far more trustworthy sellers. In addition, there are ways to tell if your CBD product is high quality. In the instance of CBD oil, here are some methods to check if your product is reputable.
Transparent Test Results
Usually, a reliable CBD oil will have been tested, the details of which should be written on the label. As most high-quality CBD companies will have no problem showing off their (positive) test results. A cursory scan over the labelling of your CBD product should show you reputability, and if not, it is always worth getting in touch with the company you bought from. Any reputable CBD company will be happy to provide you with the COA for your product.
Transparent Labelling in General
The label should include the CBD concentration. Usually, an effective CBD oil contains 300-1000mg per 30ml bottle.
Extracted Using Alcohol or Carbon Dioxide
These are safe solvents involved in helping to extract CBD. If the extraction method for the CBD isn't safe, this usually means that there are additives or additional chemicals in your product. Not so good!
CBD Grown In Areas Which Require Soil-Testing
An underrated, but necessary, point: your product is best when it's been grown under exemplary conditions. It's important to get to the root of your product; that is, the origins of your cannabis plant have to be great for you to have a great quality product at the end of the refining process. Hemp absorbs everything from its soil (it's what is known as a hyperaccumulator), and therefore the soil must be regulated, often in an accredited lab, under optimum conditions.
The best soil should contain the right concentration of vitamins and minerals; with no heavy metals, pesticides, fungus, bacteria, solvent residue, or anything else.
Your product should also detail where the hemp is grown.
'Whole Plant' Extracts
A good quality CBD product is made up of a broad-spectrum (or full-spectrum, if that's legal where you are). This means it doesn't just contain CBD, it has other cannabis compounds within it (such as terpenes, flavonoids, and phytocannabinoids), working synergistically, to give an enhanced balancing effect. The best CBD products contain many cannabinoids, instead of just CBD isolate on its own.
No Outrageous Claims/Prices
Any crazy claims (think: this product will solve your marital problems) or super cheap (or expensive) product is probably going to be scammy snake oil. Shopping around for a clearer sense of pricing- as well as reviewing different brands- is a great way to ensure you are in the clear.
Is CBD For You?
It is always important, when undertaking research around a new product, to delve into the history, science, and legality surrounding the product. A clearer sense of the legitimacy of CBD should allow you to move forward with confidence and clarity. Should you choose to progress with your research into CBD, it is always best you pick reliable research sources, and buy from reputable websites.
At Mantle, we are happy to educate you further on our range of products. Should you find yourself hungry for more information, our editorial section is brimming with fresh and honest CBD features.
The world of CBD is as fascinating as it is controversial, with its strong ties to history, politics and the law. It is not so much a rabbit-hole subject as it is a long, complicated root, sprouting branch after branch. And if there is one thing we can ensure, it's that each branch will surprise you with its depth.