CBD: History, Politics and Research
The medical benefits of cannabis date back to 2727 BC and have been documented through ancient texts and medical history in virtually every culture and civilization for its wide range of health and healing benefits. It seemed to be an accepted and respected botanical through the late 1930s when Marijuana/Hemp were denounced throughout the world, felt heavily in the US as enforced through prohibition. However medical research is now rapidly evolving, with the continued understanding and validation of the fairly recent discovery of the Endocannabinoid system (i.e. how Cannabinoids naturally occur and work within our body) as well as understanding at a cellular/molecular level how Cannabinoids mitigate disease processes and maintain homeostasis. As this huge body of research and medical evidence mounts it seems our thinking is shifting back to accepting the undeniable fact that Cannabinoids are a naturally occurring part of our physiology and are therefore vital to our health, healing and wellbeing.
Cannabis was in the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) from the 1850 through 1942, for nearly 100 years. Highly regarded companies like Eli Lilly, Parke Davis and Squibb produced many prescription drugs with cannabis as an ingredient. At one time there were over 2000 different medicines sold in the U.S. made from cannabis. With formulas for everything from pain, neuralgia, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, convulsions, gout, incontinence, menstrual disorders, GI issues, antibiotic and microbial uses and even to counteract anthrax.
Of note, Cannabis preparations are listed in the 15th Century BC Chinese Pharmacopeia and by 1 BC they recommended cannabis for more than 100 ailments including gout, rheumatism, malaria, and absentmindedness. References for Medicinal uses of Cannabis continue through medical documentation and throughout history.
George Washington’s agricultural dairy entries documented that he grew hemp with particular interest in its medicinal uses, as do Thomas Jefferson’s farm diaries. There are references to Hemp/Cannabis being associated with many of our early presidents and government. In fact in 1913, the US Department of Agriculture announced they had succeeded in growing domestic cannabis to equal quality of Indian cannabis, and by 1918 were growing 60,000 pounds annually for pharmaceutical purposes. While prohibition curtailed this for years it seems that the government has not given up on the medical potential possessed by Cannabis. The NIH in fact currently holds the US patent 6,630,507 for therapeutic use of cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Nueroprotectants.
Medical research is responsible for fueling this ongoing shift in paradigm regarding Cannabis. Although there seemed to be politicking with mostly Cons and the rare Pro for Cannabis throughout the prohibition era. The Pros became more validated in the 1960’s when Dr. Ralpheal Mechoulam was able to discover, identify and synthesize the CBD and THC molecules from Cannabis. He is thus credited with what could be considered the start of the cannibis research era. Inadvertently facilitated by the US government agencies, research gained steam again the 1980’s. When Marinol, a synthetic version of THC was developed, researched and patented by the US government. Interestingly, the project was funded by the NIH, then sold to Unimed and then became an FDA and DEA approved medication as a Schedule II medication. In 1990 Cannabinoid receptors were discovered in the brain by the National Institute of Mental Health. NIH with other government agencies continue to contribute funding and conduct and support research in this promising area of medicine.
As research mounts so does backing to pass the first medical marijuana imitative in 1991 in San Francisco. In 1992 Dr. Ralpheal Mechoulams research evolves and with Drs. Devane and Hanus, they identify the brains first endogenous cannabinoid (or endocannabinoid) aptly named anandamide (“Ananda” meaning bliss or supreme joy in Sanskrit). Research found that healthy exercise stimulates the release of our bodies own cannabinoid, giving us a sense of wellness “runners high” which is likely why exercise promotes resilience because it stimulates increased endocannabinoids which promote homeostasis and wellness. In 1996, California becomes the first to legalize medical marijuana, followed by Alaska, Oregon, Washington in 1998, with numerous others following suit. The DEA, FDA, NIH, Political, state, federal, financial, ethical, medical, legal, and personal debates continue, which fuels our need for further research to validate this beautiful botanical and make it accepted and respected again.
Much of the current research is focusing on the medical implications which show great promise in virtually every disease process. Quality medical research continues as does the understanding of our endocannabinoid system and the effects of endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids and the synthetic cannabinoids on this miraculous system in our body, which seems to prevent and mitigate the effects of disease processes, maintain balance/homeostasis and promote wellness and a sense of wellbeing. This is an evolving and exciting science with so much to still be discovered, applied, and proven. The future medical, scientific, economic, political, global and potential life changing impact of Cannabidiol (CBD) is astounding!