This work will explore the known health effects of cannabidiol (CBD), with clear documentation about what evidence has been known to the United States government all throughout its prohibition. It will show that policy makers have known for nearly a century that CBD has no known intoxicative effects, yet they pushed prohibition and demonization of a substance that has well-known therapeutic effects. It will discuss the current state of the literature and what we now know to be truth. It will argue that these gross misinterpretations and propaganda surrounding the hemp plant must be recognized, with justice brought to those involved parties who have caused immeasurable damage and harm to society as a whole. This is the truth about CBD.
The modern origin for medicinal uses of the species cannabis sativa and cannabis indica is generally noted in literature to date back to the period of approximately 2737 B.C., where a description of the drug could be found in a Chinese compendium of medicines of emperor Shen-Nung. It has also been suggested, however, that the Assyrians were aware of its uses as early as the seventh or eighth century B.C.
Even during those eras, it has been argued that the social acceptance of the plant was questionable at best; “there were those who warned that the hemp plant lined the road to Hades, and those who thought it led to paradise.” This, of course, was before the application of modern mechanistic medicine, with its ability to better understand the direct pharmacological effects, with the hope of eliminating policy-making based on opinion or propaganda. It could therefore be concluded that with the advancement of mechanistic medicine, the United States government must have developed a deep understanding of cannabis sativa and the serious public health and social risks that are linked with it. But perhaps we uncover a different truth through this journey.
Credit for the first attempts to investigate a western mechanistic view of the plant found its origins in an 1839 study conducted by W.B. O'Shaughnessy, a 30-year-old physician who was stationed in India with the British troops and a professor at the medical school of Calcutta. He discussed in detail several experiments highlighting the medicinal value of the plant, and hypothesized “...in hemp the profession has gained an anti-convulsive remedy of the greatest value... and then pointing out these to the profession, to leave them to prosecute and decide on the subject of discussion...”
Indeed the following years where filled with literature examples that further explored the potential for therapeutic benefits of the hemp plant. In 1843 John Clendinning published a review of seventeen case studies, concluding that the only class of cases in which hemp was not a suitable substitute for opium were intestinal fluxes, such as diarrhea of phthisis or low fever in advanced stages, of old ulcerations of the bowels, and in dysenteric affections. In that same year, Benjamin Barrow, a friend of O'Shaughnessy treated a young woman with Dysmenorrhoea with an extract of cannabis sativa who had been treated previously with opium, and noted positive effects for a six hour duration. Michael Donovan published a work in 1845 in which he stated that hemp “possessed of a kind of energy which belongs to no other known therapeutic agent, and which is capable of effecting cures hitherto deemed nearly hopeless.” This of course is not sound scientific logic, but he was merely stating that this still unknown combination of compounds had profound effects in the case studies he explored. McMeens wrote an extensive review exploring the case studies that took place in the first half of the 19th century, of which several examples have been provided above. He concluded, “I would remark, that I regard the hemp as an excellent nervous stimulant, applicable in all diseases of a purely nervous character.”
Christison noted in 1853  that Greek physicians did not record any intoxicating effects related to the plant, where around that same time in the east (India, China, etc.) it had often been used in the context of an intoxicating substance. This would make one consider the possibility that the particular strains of the plant were different between east and west, where higher concentrations of CBD relative to THC being found in plants near Greece. Christison’s study did note highly intoxicating effects in patients. Throughout the remainder of the 19th and early 20th century, there is a large body of evidence showing various therapeutic effects related to the plant(s), including treatment for phthisis pulmonalis, local anesthetic action, dysentery, migraines, chronic opium poisoning (likely from continued exposure to heavy-metals) along with various other types of ailments. An early pharmacological study completed by Marshall showed noted benefits when comparing exposure to morphine after administration to animals.
In 1883, Wallach commented on the effects of the substance being peculiar, and surmised that results were inconsistent, with conclusions based on his own experiments. It should be noted at this point that the extracts studied in the 19th century had unknown concentrations and ratios of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cannabidiol (CBD), the former having known psychoactive effects and the latter having none. Given the noted intoxicative effects described in the work hitherto, one would likely assume that the ratio of THC : CBD was definitely not negligible in these early works. It might even be argued that the effects had more to do with THC than for CBD. This is an important note as we move forward in the historical progression, where both substances have found themselves as Schedule I drugs, with no known therapeutic effects.
While much of the early work noted therapeutic benefits for extracts of cannabis sativaand cannabis indica there was not any known mechanistic reasoning for these observations. Many individuals have surmised that the eventual prohibition pushed by the federal authorities throughout the world were the result of social hysteria and financial interests, as opposed to any understanding of the plant and its effects on human health. This research comes to the same conclusion. This is evidenced by the fact that a paper written by Bromberg in 1934 concludes that “A study of the relation between violent crime (murder, assault, rape, etc.) with marijuana showed no direct correlation. It is clear from this study that in this region the drug is a “breeder of crime” only when used by psychopathic types in whom the drug allows the emergence of aggressive, sexual or anti-social tendencies. The addiction to marijuana is not on the same deep psychological level that morphine addiction is.” It is curious then that the Marijuana Act of 1937 was passed without any mechanistic understanding of the plants or even the components that embody it. It has been argued by authors that the Act was passed primarily on the basis of financial interests, specifically influenced by Randolph Hearst because of his timber holdings (hemp competed with paper pulp) and Andrew Mellon who had significant holdings in DuPont, the company that began large-scale manufacturing of Nylon at around the same time.
The first systematic studies of the compounds found within the plants did not take place until 1940, when researchers first separated the intoxicative THC from non-intoxicative CBD. This alone heavily supports the notion that these measures were taken specifically to protect financial interests, since the work up to that point showed clear therapeutic benefits, and the government was not even aware of the differences between THC and CBD at the time of passage.
In the ensuing years (1950-1980) there emerged an extensive body of literature that discusses the effects of cannabis in the more modern pharmacological context. It shouldn’t be of much surprise that there were a number of studies that come to conclusions of a negative nature against the plant and its effects on animal subjects. However, these studies generally did not explore the differences between THC and CBD in extract preparations, and it is important to remember both of these substances dealt with prohibition. Campbell et al. concluded in a 1971 study that cannabis induced cerebral atrophy, but all of the cases involved individuals who also consumed other drugs (LSD, barbiturates, heroin, etc), and the study was conducted through self- admission of use by the patients. They made no attempt to distinguish THC from CBD in the study. Chopra et al. concluded that “clinical entity of “cannabis psychosis” does in fact exist.” Similarly, this study looked at patients with pre-existing drug use and made no clinical distinction between THC and CBD. However, Bowman et al. concluded in a paper the following year “that heavy users of this drug did not show test performances indicating impairment of psychological functioning comparable to other types of organic cerebral dysfunction, nor did they show chronic changes on dimensions responsive to immediate intoxication.” They came to the conclusion that the observed effects in other studies may be cultural effects instead of drug effects. However, they also make no distinction between THC and CBD. This could be the “cultural effects” they alluded to. The conclusion that the author reaches is that most of the early studies in pharmacology need to be discarded because they do not recognize the differences in chemical composition of the plant, with most falsely assuming that all strains can be studied in an equal light.
There were, however, numerous studies that explored of the effects of cannabidiol independent of strain specific extracts of the plant. For example, a 1973 study conducted by Carlini et al. concludes that cannabidiol (CBD) does not induce any intoxicative effects, but appears to be promising for the treatment of epilepsy. That same year, Izquierdo et al. showed that CBD significantly reduced hippocampal seizures when compared to THC. Two of the authors state in a later paper that clinical trials for CBD would be appropriate for this compound. This is more than 40 years before the first FDA approval of this treatment was explored (Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals). It was also around this same time that pharmacological studies began realizing that THC and CBD interact with one another in vivo, further invalidating much of the scientific work conducted to that point.
Beyond the beneficial effects of CBD for those patients suffering from seizures, research continued to explore and note positive therapeutic outcomes for patients suffering from a variety of ailments, including arthritis, various movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, anxiety, as well as showing how CBD can reduce the previously observed “psychosis” produced by extracts containing THC. It should be noted that there are controlled studies that do not find positive correlations between CBD and alleviation of symptoms, but these very often employ a pharmaceutically pure material instead of full plant extract. It well known that full-plant extracts exhibit a significantly different pharmacological profile than pure dosing. Studies to this day typically still do not take this knowledge into consideration, finding negative correlations while using an extremely low-dosage of pharmaceutically pure CBD.
The inconsistencies of the treatments and regime has resulted in body of literature that while clearly showing positive health outcomes, simply can not be referenced in great detail because of the lack of systematic measures to protect against these experimental deficiencies. What is clear is that studies that employ pharmaceutically pure extracts will most often find no correlation with positive health outcomes, compared with those studies that explore full-plant extracts such as the early work. These studies should therefore be considered completely invalid given that there has been an understanding of synergistic effects of the plant components for many years.
A Short History of What The Government Knows
While there was certainly media buzz over the fact that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) removed CBD from Schedule I, it is important to note that they did not remove the substance CBD or THC, only the formulation produced by GW Pharmaceuticals for the treatment of epilepsy in children. GW Pharmaceuticals intends to charge insurance companies and parents that want to help their children 32,500 USD per year of treatment for a compound that is grown in great abundance. It effectively creates a monopoly for desperate parents who want to help their children. But it is for the safety of the children, after all.
So what does the government know about the therapeutic benefits of this compound?
Many readers may be interested to know that the government has a track record that can be easily followed.
In 1999, the Department of Human Health and Services (HHS) filed a patent application recognizing that cannabinoids are in fact potent “antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” In 2001 HHS filed a patent showing that cannabinoid analogs acted as vasoconstrictors. Just as a reminder, Schedule I restriction by the DEA is defined as “drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Lawyers will most certainly say “accepted” medical use, and this patent doesn’t acknowledge an accepted medical use, but rather an experimental one. That is what you define as lawyer-speak.
This paper has shown with a high level of certainty that the measures taken by federal governments around the world demonstrate conspiracy and collusion against the hemp plant in order to protect financial interests of those parties that might be financially affected if the plant remained legal. The scientific literature is quite clear about this reality. While most individuals simply want legalization to occur, the author argues that this simply disregards the crimes that have been committed for the past century. It is especially important, as most of my work argues, to remember that the policymakers and financial interests are not powerful and scary, they are children. Only extremely immature human beings would act in this manner, with a complete disregard for other’s suffering, and only caring about their own pocketbook. This is not how adults behave, and in order to remedy this situation the public must become aware of this reality, and act accordingly. It is time to put the children in time-out.
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