Hemp, Cannabis, Marijuana, and CBD.

Researching the newest and most interesting things to write about to guide you, dear consumer, through the quickly growing world of CBD makes it clear two things. One, CDB does so much for so many people. I am glad it is becoming more readily accessible. The second that it should be mentioned that there is a lot of misinformation out there about the Cannabis plant. Marijuana, for example, is essentially a nickname despite what people would swear to you. The word Marijuana is simply the Mexican name for Cannabis. Like the words Taco, Salsa, or Vanilla, we simply have not bothered to Americanize it. The seedy, black market image that the word Marijuana brings up (which is distinctly different from the scientific-sounding Cannabis Sativa or Cannabidiol) is often associated with the racist ways that American people are primed to associate with Mexican products in general. The prohibition of Cannabis in the U.S. today can be traced back to an attempt to cultivate more of the product here, and cripple the then agriculture-dependent economy of our neighbor to the south. 

The word itself made its way into the American lexicon in the late 19th century, and was often spelled in the U.S. with the letter “h” where the Spanish “j” makes the same sound. Just before the depression era, social sentiment (much like it is now) deemed the influx of brown-skinned, Spanish speaking co-workers as a threat in a tightening, unique pre- and post-war economy. The impact of this sentiment embedded itself into the word, as well as the plant itself, despite its immeasurable benefits to the earth, the economy, the body as medicine, and to industry. 

Cannabis: CBD, THC, and All the Rest

Cannabis that is grown as Hemp was a huge cash crop in the Midwest throughout the 18 and 1900’s. It came complete with its own set of government subsidies for farmers who could grow the most. As any green thumb could tell you, not all plants are created equal and if there was a “very hard to accidentally kill” plant cultivation Olympics out there, Cannabis would be the one to beat, every time. As a result, it is also the plant that is responsible for so many commercially available products, not just “marijuana”. The word Hemp is essentially yet another alias for Cannabis. People often use the name Hemp when referring to cannabis that is used in industrial growth, like for the fibers from the plant’s long, strong stalk, which go into hemp-based clothing and paper products. Similar to bamboo, Cannabis grows fast, tall and sturdy, and is a favorite around the world for many of the same reasons. 

Just like beta carotene is a naturally occurring chemical in carrots that help with developing eyesight, one part of Cannabis that growers intentionally select for when breeding Cannabis is called Cannabidiol or CBD. The beneficial effects of this chemical are associated with improved sleep, relief of body pain, and many others. Another naturally occurring chemical in Cannabis plants is Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC is also what is responsible for offering the medicinal effect of being “high”, a psychoactive effect. Psychoactive, by the way, simply means affecting the mind. Most things we consume do this to some extent. “Psychoactive effects” is often what is presented as the reason parents should be concerned with children smoking pot. The actual impact of THC however, does not impair the consumer anywhere near the way that alcohol does, and there has never been any reported instance of THC related death due to chemical overdose, or impaired behavior, when isolated from drinking and other things that affect the mind. It makes you wonder why alcohol and nicotine are readily available when they are both addictive and responsible for more deaths than almost anything else, but I digress.

CBD comes from Cannabis, always.

CBD is an incredible product that is helping millions of people heal and live more productive lives. The stigma against the plant that produces it is both surprising and disappointing. Like many confusing social realities, the political implications of a changing world are often lagging behind the American majority. After all, in the U.S., we most often vote with our pocketbooks. If there is one thing that is not confusing about Cannabis, however, is that if dollar bills were ballots, this plant and all of its derivatives would be appointed Emperor of the World forever.