Cannabinoids are divided into three groups. The first are naturally occurring 21-carbon terpenophenolic compounds found to date solely in plants of the Cannabis genus, currently termed phytocannabinoids (Pate 1994). The best known analgesic of these is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (henceforth, THC)(Figure 1), first isolated and synthesized in 1964 (Gaoni and Mechoulam 1964). In plant preparations and whole extracts, its activity is complemented by other “minor” phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) (Figure 1), cannabis terpenoids and flavonoids, as will be discussed subsequently.
Despite advanced analytical techniques, much of the cannabis used recreationally is inaccurately classified. One laboratory at the University of British Columbia found that Jamaican Lamb's Bread, claimed to be 100% sativa, was in fact almost 100% indica (the opposite strain). Legalization of cannabis in Canada (as of October 17, 2018) may help spur private-sector research, especially in terms of diversification of strains. It should also improve classification accuracy for cannabis used recreationally. Legalization coupled with Canadian government (Health Canada) oversight of production and labelling will likely result in more—and more accurate—testing to determine exact strains and content. Furthermore, the rise of craft cannabis growers in Canada should ensure quality, experimentation/research, and diversification of strains among private-sector producers.
Some manufacturers ship CBD products nationally, an illegal action which the FDA has not enforced in 2018, with CBD remaining the subject of an FDA investigational new drug evaluation, and is not considered legal as a dietary supplement or food ingredient as of December 2018. Federal illegality has made it difficult historically to conduct research on CBD. CBD is openly sold in head shops and health food stores in some states where such sales have not been explicitly legalized.
There are approximately 60 unique cannabinoids in cannabis plants, which can be classified as hemp plants or marijuana plants (there’s a difference!). CBD is one of them and is the second-most prevalent cannabinoid found in the plant; THC is another. This distinction is absolutely critical to understand because THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the “high” produced by traditional marijuana; it’s where the negative connotations and associations generally begin.
My husband considers CBD essential to his treatment plan. He suffers from TBI caused by HSE, dystonia (right side, plus neck and face), ankylosing spondylitis, spinal bone spurs and nerve impingement, CFS/ME, lifelong insomnia, and plain old arthritis; he’s convinced that CBD has been the key for being able to reduce (with the goal of eventually eliminating) his Klonopin as quickly as he has, and for managing the reduction of his pain script.