Is CBD a drug?

No and Yes.  

Cannabidiol, CBD, is one of dozens of non-intoxicating cannabinoids which are compounds naturally found in cannabis leaves, flowers and stalks.  When cannabis has less than 0.3% THC (the intoxicating cannabinoid), it is considered to be “hemp” and is then federally legal in the United States per the 2018 US Farm Bill.  Cannabis with intoxicating THC levels above 0.3% are considered to be “Marijuana” and is governed under individual state-level cannabis regulations. 

Demonstrating their potential to both support people as a dietary supplement and as a pharmaceutical drug, the United States Department of Health patented “cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” in 2003 (patent 6630507).  CBD later became famous after CNN featured the miraculous impact a natural CBD oil had on a little girl’s life and it has now grown into a world-wide health craze that is helping to change the perception of cannabis itself. 

The reality that CBD does not yield psychoactive side-effects makes it an interesting potential cannabinoid for drug experimentation.  While comprehensive FDA approved research is currently limited for CBD, GW Pharmaceuticals was awarded official drug status for its epilepsy / anti-seizure CBD drug, Epidiolex.  To clarify, FDA approved drugs must always be isolated compounds so the FDA has approved “CBD Isolate” as a drug for epilepsy.  

While CBD is also now being further researched as an anti-inflammatory agent as well as to determine if it has potential to deliver relief from anxiety, pain and several other conditions, the FDA does not currently recognize CBD oils containing other cannabinoids, flavonoids, etc. as dietary supplements.   The FDA’s view is that an isolated compound (CBD) cannot exist as both a pharmaceutical drug and as a dietary supplement, even though the dietary supplement version contains CBD along with many other cannabinoids, flavonoids, etc.   To illustrate this situation, it’s as if the FDA is saying “Vitamin C is now a drug, so orange juice can no longer label it’s Vitamin C content.”  This FDA drug reality is why many companies choose to label their products as being “Hemp Extract” instead of as being “CBD”; the theory being that “Hemp Extract” is potentially a more FDA-friendly label solution given the inconsistencies in governmental regulation. 

Given all of this, it’s nearly certain that CBD will be further researched and that the FDA will eventually consider CBD for anxiety, CBD for pain, CBD for Inflammation, etc. in many other future drug applications.  However, given that CBD is also naturally highly concentrated in a plant that can now be legally grown in one’s own garden, CBD will also continue to exist as part of “hemp extract” oils that contain CBD along with other cannabinoids, flavonoids, etc. and the FDA will eventually be forced to clarify it’s status.

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