Surprising History of CBD


Posted on February 24th, 2020

Right now, cannabidiol (CBD) is having a major moment: everyone is talking about this powerful cannabinoid. But did you know that CBD’s history goes back well beyond the Farm Bill of 2018? In fact, we’ve known about CBD in its current form for over half a century. Today, we’ll walk you through some of the history of CBD. But first, let’s take a closer look at our CBD definition. 

What is CBD? 

To get CBD, you have to start with a cannabis sativa L. plant. The cannabis plant is full of numerous chemical components — scientists call them cannabinoids. While we’ve identified many different cannabinoids, it’s difficult to determine an exact number of them, but most people talk about two in particular: CBD (also called cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). 

THC sometimes gets cannabis plants into trouble — it’s the only cannabinoid that gets you high. CBD, on the other hand, has no psychoactive properties. But CBD and THC do interact with a lot of the same receptors in your body. All of which gives us this CBD meaning: it’s a cannabinoid (chemical component of the cannabis plant) that produces similar effects to THC in your body, but without altering your state of mind. 

One important note: CBD was banned for years because of its association with THC. But if, like Tanasi’s, your CBD comes from industrial hemp (cannabis plants bred for non-drug use, with THC concentrations below 0.3%) you should be in the clear. Tanasi follows all of the USDA rules and regulations for hemp

So, now you know the CBD definition, let’s explore how we got to know this powerful cannabinoid. 

CBD’s Twisted History

Because of its soaring popularity, and the constant influx of CBD news, lots of people think its discovery was recent. But that’s far from the truth. Records suggest cannabis plants were used medicinally as far back as 2000 BC. And even in the 1800s, Dr. William Osler (co-founder of Johns Hopkins Hospital) went on record stating that cannabis could effectively treat migraine headaches.

Fast forward 100 years, however, and CBD history takes a turn: in 1937, the U.S. government passed the “Marijuana Tax Act”, beginning the plant’s time as a regulated substance. And in 1970, marijuana was criminalized by the “Controlled Substances Act.” Still, in the time between those two bills, scientists had a chance to study this plant. And that’s when CBD history really begins. 

In 1940, Dr. Roger Adams discovered CBD while researching the cannabis plant at the University of Illinois. It was so complex, however, that he didn’t really understand what he’d isolated—or how he could use this cannabinoid. 

Still, in 1946, Dr. Walter S. Loewe started testing CBD on lab animals, managing only to prove its lack of psychoactive properties. But there’s so much more to CBD. In fact, it’s so complex that it took until the 1960s for one scientist, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, to identify CBD’s full structure. But he also discovered THC in 1964—and the psychoactive cannabinoid dominated the cannabis research world for many years.  

Of course, scientists didn’t completely abandon CBD. In the late 60s, British pharmacologists produced the first CBD oil, meant for “therapeutic use,” without much further explanation. But the next big CBD news didn’t come until 1980, when Dr. Mechoulam isolated a specific CBD receptor in a rat’s brain. Soon, his studies showed that CBD could effectively treat epilepsy. 

In spite of these findings, CBD was still too closely tied to THC. So, its controlled substance label prevented scientists from properly exploring all its potential uses. Until two years ago, when everything changed (for the better).

The New Era of CBD

In 2018, the newly amended Farm Bill got CBD and hemp off the list of “scheduled” — i.e. outlawed — drugs. Which made hemp-derived CBD legal. And started everyone talking about this cannabinoid — again. 

Today, CBD is part of an FDA-approved epilepsy medication. And so many people explore CBD oils, salves, tinctures and more, enjoying a range of effects that positively impact their lives. 

Perhaps most importantly, when CBD regained its legal status, scientists like the ones our parent company, GreenWay Herbal Products, LLC have partnered with for Tanasi have earned the right to study CBD in depth. And, with that possibility, we expect to discover that CBD history is only just beginning, and that we are doing our part for the betterment of mankind. 

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