For those who have been following cannabis news lately, you’ve probably heard a lot about the non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). You may wonder, “What is CBD?” or even ask yourself why it’s so big right now.
The answer is simple: CBD provides many benefits without the high commonly associated with marijuana. Companies derive the compound legally from the hemp plant. While many consumers think the compound’s new, CBD’s history goes back several decades.
Let’s look closer at the history of cannabidiol (CBD)
The phytocannabinoid is one of over 500 naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant. The cannabis plant, genus Cannabis sativa L., pertains to the Cannabaceae family and consists of three distinct varieties: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Hemp is a distinct cannabis cultivar that contains high levels of CBD and minimal, less than 0.3% THC.
The First Identified Phytocannabinoid
Cannabis sativa L plant research dates back to at least the 1800s with Sir. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy. The physician born in Ireland who worked in India and the UK wrote one of the first known scientific publications to use a hemp extract for medicinal purposes. While he didn’t differentiate between the different phytocannabinoids, O’Shaughnessy made advancements that helped further the current studies.
In the early 1930s, R.S. Cahn discovered CBN or cannabinol, a minor cannabinoid in Cannabis sativa L.
A decade later, Dr. Roger Adams in the U.S. and colleagues isolated the first phytocannabinoid from Indian hemp, CBD, in 1940.
Although not widely known, the scientist also synthesized cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) that same year. In the following decade, other researchers identified Δ9-THC and cannabidiol (CBD) as specific components in the plant responsible for its psychotropic effect. However, Dr. Adams wasn’t able to fully explain the compound.
Several studies were conducted in the 1950s by Dr. Mechoulam and various researchers he worked with throughout the years.
In 1963, Mechoulam and colleagues described CBD as a significant component of the Cannabis sativa species, and they characterized cannabidiol as one of at least 100 known compounds in the plant. A year later, the team isolated THC.
Later, in 1965, Mechoulam and colleagues isolated studied, and synthesized the chemical for the first time.
Mechoulam and his team continued their research on cannabidiol in subsequent years. As they evaluated various plant components, they realized CBD had anxiolytic effects without the side effects of many common pharmaceuticals.
During the 70s many of the same scientists conducted studies involving CBD, CBN, and THC.
The 80s saw more research, with Mechoulam publishing his first clinical tests with CBD. These studies involved cannabidiol to eight healthy people with no comorbidities and another 15 with seizure disorders. The cannabinoid was only ineffective in one of 14 patients. In an interview with NBC News, the top scientist noted it took over 30 years for anyone to take interest in his research.
An Introduction To Dr. Raphael Mechoulam
You can’t discuss CBD history without the “father of cannabinoids,” Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. The 91-year-old Israeli chemist shocked the world when he isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD, and other phytocannabinoids in the 1960s.
Mechoulam’s tireless research inspired additional investigations into cannabinoids and other cannabis-derived compounds. As a result, researchers have identified over 100 phytocannabinoids within the cannabis plant. Today, he continues to look for new components that may aid in the medical treatment of many conditions.
Mechoulam’s research has revealed that CBD has the potential to be an effective treatment for many ailments, including epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. Mechoulam’s
latest focus is on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and cannabinoids. The renowned scientist and his coworkers have made breakthroughs in all subjects related to both the ECS and phytocannabinoids.
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam’s research has yielded many success stories. He still works as an advisor to several pharmaceutical companies producing cannabinoid-based medications.
GW Pharmaceuticals & CBD
In 2019, Dr. Mechoulam signed a three-year agreement to study CBD and other phytocannabinoids with GW Pharmaceuticals. The drug company continues to research and study CBD as a potential treatment for a wide range of conditions. The company was acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals and continues to market the anticonvulsant medication Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved drug containing a purified, pharmaceutical-grade CBD solution. It’s also testing the medication for other conditions, including schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders.
The Food and Drug Administration Approves Epidiolex
After the FDA approved Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals’ stock rose, and the first shipments of the medication hit pharmacies in the U.S. in late 2018. It doesn’t appear any additional FDA-approved drugs containing CBD will be available soon. The agency takes an average of 12 years to approve a drug, which means there’s little chance of seeing anything on the horizon over the next decade.
Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved medication to contain a purified, pharmaceutical-grade CBD solution. The treatment was effective for two rare forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
The drug will only be available through a prescription from a doctor. GW Pharmaceuticals also marketed the drug in Europe and other countries, starting in early 2019. The medication hit the market with a price tag of approximately $2,708 per month. However, the company points out that insurance covers the prescription. But with today’s health coverage landscape, a patient could easily pay $3,000 or more. In the meantime, the company’s making record profit with these drugs.
The mark-up is astronomical. Quality CBD from a premium brand with a rigorous safety review procedure is a fraction of this amount. There’s little difference between the products you buy from a trusted company and Epidiolex, and both are chemically identical.
There’s one significant distinction. The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the number of CBD products available. When patients buy the FDA-approved product, they know the
research conducted to get approval from governments worldwide all came from the same formula.
The research papers many companies reference while proclaiming the benefits of CBD come from different farms, strains, and doses. However, when you have a brand you trust that you’ve used for a while that works, isn’t that the same thing?
CBD History and Legalization Worldwide
The CBD market is growing, and in 2020 the global market hit 2.8 billion USD in sales. Experts estimate a growth rate of over 21% from 2021 to 2028. GW Pharmaceuticals might be legal to use in many countries. However, it doesn’t hold much of the market because of price and access.
Global brands are available at a fraction of the cost, and they’re available in more places than just pharmacies. People can buy products in grocery stores, health food shops, and online retailers. These companies understand the value of their product and that customers want accountability and transparency. Third-party testing, GMP-certified facilities, and certificates of analysis (COA) are a vital part of each brand’s processing.
The next shift in CBD branding is CPG companies. Consumer packaged goods are items the average person uses daily, and big business is quickly moving in on the popular industry. For example, Molson-Coors introduced a non-alcoholic CBD-infused beverage for consumers ages 18 and older in early 2021. There’s no better time than now to be part of CBD history and the phytocannabinoid’s future in the wellness market. Contact CannGoods today to learn more about white and private label CBD products. Let us do the work for you.