Hemo-derived CBD, a THC-absent variety of cannabis sativa, had been declared legal by the industry on account of the legality of hemp itself. Confusion arose, however, when the DEA issued a statement in December 2016 stating that any derivative “from any plant of the genus Cannabis” will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances, lumping cannabis and hemp together. Its legality is unclear though, as in 2004 a Federal Court ruled that hemp was OK to traffic.
I wanted to tell people here that CBD has been very effective for my anxiety, and helps with insomnia. For me, it was a cumulative effect, after a week of one dropper of oil, I can sleep very well at night. I feel like I am not polluting my body with commercial pharmaceuticals. I wish everyone here the best, and hope it works for you as well as it has for me.
Cannabinoid therapy is connected to the part of the biological matrix where body and brain meet. Since CBD (cannabidiol) and other compounds in cannabis are so similar to the chemicals created by our own bodies, they are integrated better than many synthetic drugs. According to Bradley E. Alger, a leading scientist in the study of endocannabinoids with a PhD from Harvard in experimental psychology, “With complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system, we begin to see a mechanism that could connect brain activity and states of physical health and disease.”
Then came Reefer Madness. Marijuana, the Assassin of Youth. The Killer Weed. The Gateway Drug. For nearly 70 years the plant went into hiding, and medical research largely stopped. In 1970 the federal government made it even harder to study marijuana, classifying it as a Schedule I drug—a dangerous substance with no valid medical purpose and a high potential for abuse, in the same category as heroin. In America most people expanding knowledge about cannabis were by definition criminals.
As Kane leads me around his lab, I see the excitement on his face and on the faces of his young staff. The place feels almost like a start-up company. “So much of science is incremental,” he says, “but with this cannabis work, the science will not be incremental. It will be transformative. Transformative not just in our understanding of the plant but also of ourselves—our brains, our neurology, our psychology. Transformative in terms of the biochemistry of its compounds. Transformative in terms of its impact across several different industries, including medicine, agriculture, and biofuels. It may even transform part of our diet—hemp seed is known to be a ready source of a very healthy, protein-rich oil.”
In the United States, cannabidiol is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that production, distribution, and possession of CBD is illegal under federal law. In addition, in 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration added "marijuana extracts" to the list of Schedule I drugs, which it defined as "an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant." Previously, CBD had simply been considered "marijuana", which is a Schedule I drug.
During my visit, Penny showed me how she administers Harper’s CBD oils. We stood in her kitchen, where a window opened onto a vista of green grass and a wooden swing set out back. After carefully mixing and measuring Harper’s oils, Penny poured the liquid into a jumbo-sized plastic syringe. “We put this all online,” she told me, referring to the several YouTube videos she has made to help other parents administer hemp oil. Penny leaned down over her daughter to fit the tip of the syringe into her gastronomy tube, and I stood by silently. Harper looked at Penny, and Penny smiled back at her, and eased the plunger down.
Some individuals have been found to have mutations on the CNR1 gene, which is responsible for coding the CB1 receptor (a type of receptor in cells throughout your body that interacts with cannabinoids). Issues with the CNR1 gene can ultimately result in a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system, which is an important variable when figuring out how to use CBD oil.
Support for legalization has steadily grown over the last several years. Today, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. And even federal officials have begun to soften their stances. Last fall, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder signaled his support for removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I narcotics. “I think it’s certainly a question we need to ask ourselves, whether or not marijuana is as serious of a drug as heroin,” Holder said. This summer, Chuck Rosenberg, the acting administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, acknowledged that marijuana is not as dangerous as other Schedule I drugs and announced his agents would not be prioritizing marijuana enforcement. Still, as long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the haphazard system in which it is studied, produced, and distributed will remain, and Americans will not be able to take full advantage of its medicinal properties.
 M. H. N. Chagas, A. L. Eckeli, A. W. Zuardi, M. A. Pena-Pereira, M. A. Sobreira-Neto, E. T. Sobreira, M. R. Camilo, M. M. Bergamaschi, C. H. Schenck, J. E. C. Hallak, V. Tumas, and J. A. S. Crippa, “Cannabidiol Can Improve Complex Sleep-Related Behaviours Associated with Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder in Parkinson’s Disease Patients: A Case Series,” Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 39 (2014): 564–566. doi:10.1111/jcpt.12179.
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