Understanding Cannabis: What Is CBD?
Whether you are new to cannabis stocks or you're a seasoned trader, it is incredibly likely you have heard of CBD. As a versatile, non-psychotropic chemical compound, it is now infused into a host of foods, beverages, medicines, supplements, cosmetics, and more.
CBD is a compound found within the chemical structure of hemp and cannabis strains. Belonging to the class known as cannabinoids, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD's primary role is to support the efficiency of the ECS and promote balance through the control of enzymes and receptor activation. To harvest CBD, it needs to be extracted from cannabis using sophisticated extraction equipment. From here, CBD extract can then be added to carrier oils, lotions, or other products.
CBD does not induce any intoxicating side effects (a high); therefore, it is common to see the compound cross over between the medical cannabis market and the wellness sector. Cannabidiol is reported to be well-tolerated even in high doses, and appears to exhibit minimal side effects. The best way to describe what CBD does is to think of it as a booster to your biological systems. Unless you are following a particular treatment, general consumption appears to leave users feeling less anxious and well-rested, while supporting their immune, nervous, and digestive systems.
While this list can be used as a general reference, it is essential to note that research into the compound is ongoing, and while results are positive, the scope and potential of CBD is continually evolving.
A summary of CBD's benefits:
CBD may also be effective at treating symptoms of the following conditions:
• Multiple sclerosis (MS)
• Anxiety & depression
• Autoimmune diseases
• Crohn's and colitis
• Parkinson's disease
• Huntington's disease
As you can see from the list of debilitating diseases above, CBD is being extensively pursued in medical fields. Further information can be found here if you want to keep up-to-date with clinical trials and case reports.
Thanks to its range of effects, CBD features heavily in both recreational and medical markets. A critical difference between CBD and other forms of medical marijuana is that CBD does not require a prescription, and is purchasable by anyone who wishes to use it. In areas where cannabis is legal for recreational consumption, marijuana strains with high CBD content can also be grown and smoked, circumventing the need for specialised extraction. Given the limitations of recreational markets, the most popular legal products are CBD oils and softgel capsules.
Although support for CBD as a viable therapeutic treatment continues to grow, the compound has yet to be accepted as an approved medical device in most settings. The “exceptions” to this rule are two pharmaceutical products containing CBD: Sativex and Epidiolex. The former contains a 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC, while the latter contains only CBD and is utilised by children with two rare forms of epilepsy.
CBD is legal to buy and consume, pending some stipulations. First, CBD has to be extracted from the hemp plant, not marijuana (unless recreational use has been approved) in order to be considered legal. This is to ensure that the THC percentage falls under the threshold of 0.2–0.3% (country dependent). Hemp also has greater levels of CBD, making it a far more viable commercial option for CBD producers. A lot of the misconception surrounding CBD comes from its link to the Cannabis sativa species, and there are still instances where CBD oil is being seized or removed when individuals travel across state or international borders.
The association that CBD has with cannabis is something that regulatory bodies are currently reviewing. Campaigners are calling for CBD to be removed from the restrictive grouping given to cannabis and all its cannabinoids. Although the process is still ongoing and involves numerous global parties, an amendment to its scheduling would be a significant step forward for the CBD industry. A reclassification would also pave the way for government legislation to ensure products are tested and verified—something the industry is in desperate need of if it wishes to continue expanding.
Even with a detailed understanding of CBD, there is one final skill every investor needs before choosing CBD-focussed companies—due diligence. The lack of regulation in the industry means that differences in quality between producers is vast. Highly specialised extraction equipment is needed to isolate the correct ratios of CBD, and the margin for error is significant without the right expertise. Consumers may end up getting a product that does not feature the ratio of CBD advertised, or worse, a product that includes harmful or unwanted additives.
The onus is still on the consumer and the investor to conduct sufficient research and confirm that a company has the necessary knowledge and equipment to produce a quality product. Key attributes to look for in a producer of CBD include self-published, third-party test results, the use of organic hemp, and transparency of their extraction methods. Together, these factors will help to narrow down the choice of viable investment options.