The History of CBD

CBD is a fairly recent discovery in our history, however cannabis-derived medicines have been used dating back thousands of years.

2737 BC was the first documented use of cannabis-derived medicine when Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung infused cannabis into tea to aid with several ailments including memory, gout, malaria and rheumatism. 

Fast forward a few thousand years to the age of Modern Medicine to 1839. A physician and medical researcher named William B. O’Shaughnessy published a very controversial study. His study investigated the therapeutic effects of the cannabis plant for among other things used as an anesthetic.

While this wasn’t specifically a study on CBD it was the beginning of important research. Research that would lead to the discovery of CBD and various compounds within the cannabis plant that would today be known as cannabinoids. 

One hundred and two years later in 1940 a chemist and Harvard university graduate named Roger Adams unknowingly succeeded in extracting CBD from the cannabis sativa plant and it was off to the races.

At this point several more doctors began researching CBD and its potential uses. Most notably in 1946 when Dr. Walter S Loewe conducted the first CBD test on lab animals and discovered that CBD has no observable affection on the behavior of mice, unlike THC. 

After Dr. Loewe’s tests, it was very clear that CBD had some beneficial properties with regards to health. However, the amount of information on CBD was still extremely limited and only being researched by a fairly small amount of physicians, scientists and researchers. 

CBD is Officially Discovered

Along comes Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in the same year of 1946 and he is able to identify CBD’s three dimensional structure. By doing so, he was and still is, often credited as the doctor who discovered CBD. He continued his research and in the 1960s finally began testing the effects on primates.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam founder of CBD

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam continued his studies for decades and in 1980 made a very important breakthrough in CBD history when he ran a study that showed that cannabidiol could be an important factor in the treatment for epilepsy. 

In that study Mechoulam gave daily doses of 300mg of CBD to a group of 8 subjects all suffering from epilepsy. Four months into the study half of the group stopped having seizures and the other half exhibited a decrease in the frequency of their seizures. Unfortunately, due to the stigmas towards cannabis during that time period in the early 80s, the study was not publicized as any type of breakthrough. 

His research worked as the catalyst for other scientists, doctors, and researchers to dive deeper into understanding the cannabinoid structure and how our network of Endocannabinoid System receptors interact with receptors found in cannabinoids. This caused an explosion of interest in research that spread across the United States. 

In 1996 California passed Proposition 215 legalizing medical marijuana. Within a couple years seven other states followed in California’s footsteps and legalized medical marijuana. Washington, Oregon and Alaska in 1998. Main in 1999 and finally Hawaii, Colorado and Nevada in 2000. 

Prop. 215 allowed researchers to have access to legal cannabis and expand their studies into the medical uses of cannabinoid. Prior to that anyone researching cannabis was breaking the law and thus posed a huge risk for anyone wanting to remain a legitimate member of the medical or scientific community.

Word of this spread across the pond and Britain began official medical trials using CBD in 1998. 

This brings us to the early 2000s and even with all of the research and study of the benefits of CBD there was (and still is) a stigma associated with it. That stigma is because of its relation to the Cannabis plant and the common misconception that everything cannabis related “gets you high”.

The Farm Bill Changes Everything

Along comes 2018 and with it the passage of the FARM BILL, CBD and hemp are completely removed from the list of “scheduled” drugs that have been outlawed by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. 

Today research of CBD has exploded, along with CBD related products available online and in stores. As of 2020 CBD is legal in all 50 states and the future looks very, very bright for various treatments and applications of CBD.  

CBD timeline infographic