The medical benefits of CBD, a primary non-psychoactive cannabinoid in the marijuana plant, are now crystal clear. However, the federal government continues to classify the substance – as well as the rest of the plant – as a Schedule I drug as part of the Controlled Substances Act, declaring it to have no known medicinal use.
This is in complete disagreement to the many U.S. states which now have medical cannabis legislation, and many countries around the world that are utilizing CBD as medicine for severe epilepsy, chronic pain, anxiety, multiple sclerosis and more.
Now, a United Nations report detailing the medicinal qualities of CBD shows that, more than ever, it’s time for Washington to move with the times.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently been reviewing a group of substances covered by the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, of which CBD is a part. The newly-released report points to CBD possibly having “therapeutic value” with no potential for abuse. This pro-cannabis activist is in contrast to the U.S. federal government, that still classifies marijuana and its compounds alongside addictive drugs including meth and heroin.
The WHO decided to review its position of CBD due to the surge in interest that the compound has received over the past few years. Until recently, CBD was a relative unknown, with most medical marijuana research being centered around THC. Additional research into CBD has shown that there’s no justification to schedule this non-intoxicating compound. However, the WHO will convene again in May 2018 to carry out a more thorough review of CBD.
The non-psychoactive nature of CBD means that, unlike THC, users will not experience a “high” sensation after consuming the cannabinoid, whether they’re inhaling it, taking it as an edible or applying topically. In November 2017, the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), a branch of the WHO, convened in Switzerland to discuss CBD, and determined that the compound is “devoid of the ability to produce euphoria.”
The absence of psychoactive properties in CBD has made it a much more appealing treatment for cannabis sceptics than THC. Indeed, without the intrigue surrounding the cannabinoid, the WHO probably wouldn’t have bothered to review it at all.
With CBD research now more possible than at any point in recent history, studies on animals and humans have increased, giving us an increased understanding on the therapeutic qualities of the cannabis compound. CBD’s ability to treat Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and other severe, life-threatening forms of epilepsy is apparent thanks to its anticonvulsant and anti-seizure properties. The anti-psychotic qualities of CBD could also make it an effective treatment for psychosis and schizophrenia.
While THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has the potential for abuse as a psychoactive compound and perhaps may cause – at least – mental dependence, studies have shown this is not the case for CBD, according to the WHO. Next up for CBD research is to fully explore if and how the compound can be used to treat PTSD, chronic pain, inflammatory conditions and several other ailments.
The non-addictive trait of CBD makes it extremely attractive to patients currently taking addictive, opioid-based painkillers such as Oxycontin to treat their conditions. With the opioid epidemic taking over 50,000 lives in America in 2015, the demand for safe medical alternatives with little potential for abuse has never been greater.
Indeed, the WHO’s pre-review report made a note of the fact that many countries have “modified their national controls,” in order to accept CBD as legal medicine.
The situation in America varies from state to state, and in some cases retailer to retailer. Some retailers, including Lucky’s Market have opted to totally ignore federal law and stock certain CBD products in their stores across the nation. Other states that are reluctant to embrace full medical marijuana programs have enacted ‘CBD-only’ laws to at least open up access to CBD medicine for those most in need (i.e. children with medication-resistant epilepsy).
However, Indiana is one state which has cracked down on companies perceived to be flouting CBD laws, with state law enforcement seizing products from stores.
There are representatives in both the House and the Senate that are making medical marijuana arguments, but there is currently no intention for a rescheduling of the plant or CBD. In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently instructed federal prosecutors to crackdown on cannabis.
The next meeting of WHO officials in May 2018 will prove very interesting, when we will get a more comprehensive idea of how they plan to proceed with the plant. The meeting will look at THC, as well as other cannabinoids and extract products.