CBD Oil… Hype, Harm, or Heck Yay!

Part II: The History and a Legal Overview of Cannabis & “Weeding Out” Some Uses

The Long-History and Regulation of Cannabis and Its Compounds

In last week’s article, I began my discussion of CBD (cannabidiol) oil. I just reviewed its popularity and why it is being mass marketed on my Saratoga.com blog. Now I will review the background and timeline regarding cannabis, hemp, and CBD.

Understanding the history will help to clarify why this “craze” is more than hype. Rather, it is a longstanding query as a legitimate medical intervention. Due to its classification and proclaimed addictive properties, one cannot separate its history from the legalities; therefore, a brief overview of its regulation will also be included.

For those that are tempted to start a snooze fest from the mention of days of old, you may want to “caffeine-up.” This is because the “flavor” of this discussion will be “blended in” with its previous uses and updates on current indications briefly here and in future posts.


The History of Marijuana in the U.S.

CBD and marijuana have an extensive medicinal past, with some sources dating its use back to ancient times. Cannabis was used as a pharmaceutical botanical in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was later classified as a Schedule 1 substance in the 1970’s, deeming it’s potential for high abuse and “no medical use.” (source, source, source)

According to the book, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research:

Cannabis sativa has a long history as a medicinal plant, likely dating back more than two millennia (Russo et al., 2007). It was available as a licensed medicine in the United States for about a century before the American Medical Association removed it from the 12th edition of the U.S. Pharmacopeia (IOM, 1999). In 1985, pharmaceutical companies received approval to begin developing ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) preparations—dronabinol and nabilone—for therapeutic use, and as a result, cannabinoids were reintroduced into the armamentarium of willing health care providers (Grotenhermen and Müller-Vahl, 2012). (Excerpt from: “4 Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids” pg 86-88.doi: 10.17226/24625. 2017)


An Overview of the Use & History of Cannabis

This same source also provides an excellent summary of the history of cannabis which you can read in detail. Here are the key points:

  • In the 20th century, cannabis was used for medical rather than recreational use. It was regulated by consumer laws, including the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
  • It was banned by several states between 1911-1930, but not by the federal government.
  • Fear of cannabis grew in the 1920s and 1930s related to immigration from Mexico. In the mid-1930s the federal government endorsed state-level actions and encouraged a tax act to criminalize unregistered and untaxed production and use.
  • The Marihuana Tax of 1937 was passed by Congress to regulate production, distribution and use of cannabis. It also required cannabis to be registered and taxed by federal authorities. At this point it was not criminalized, but nonmedical supply or use was a violation.
  • Today cannabis is regulated by local, state, federal, and international laws. State laws often mirror the federal law, “the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which includes the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).” The CSA places cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. This is the most restrictive category, putting cannabis with heroin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).
  • The federal government still cites no evidence of the medical use of cannabis; yet, “pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids have been isolated and are scheduled apart from cannabis. For example, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is sold as Marinol®, available with prescription (a Schedule III drug). That THC, which is the principal active ingredient in cannabis, in its pure form is listed in Schedule III indicates that the placement of botanical or whole cannabis in Schedule 1 may be driven by the lack of recognition of medical use for the whole plant.”
  • Today, federal criminal law prohibits the supply and use of cannabis except for medical and scientific purposes.

The authors conclude:

“In summary, the legal changes in cannabis policy during the past 50 years have been characterized primarily by three types of policies, each implemented by various states, beginning with (1) decriminalization throughout the 1970s, which preceded (2) medical cannabis laws and (3) regulated and licensed recreational cannabis.”


California Paves the Way with the First Medical Cannabis Legislation

As states and the federal government remain divided on cannabis regulation, the confusion continues in relation to its legality, addictive, and medicinal properties. In 1996, the first medicinal cannabis legislation was passed by two states. This paved the way for its re-emergence in medicine and its popularity. Although Arizona later rescinded, California’s passage set precedent for other states to legalize its use, all differing in appropriate restrictions and applications.

According to the book, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research (bold emphasis mine):

At the time that this report was written, in 2016, 28 states and the District of Columbia had legalized the medical use of cannabis; 8 states had legalized both medical and recreational use of cannabis; and another 16 states had allowed limited access to low-THC/high-CBD products (i.e., products with low levels of THC and high levels of CBD) (NCSL, 2016). A recent national survey showed that among current adult users, 10.5 percent reported using cannabis solely for medical purposes, and 46.6 percent reported a mixed medical/recreational use (Schauer et al., 2016)…

Of the states that allow for some access to cannabis compounds, cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, seizures/epilepsy, and pain are among the most recognized qualifying ailments (Belendiuk et al., 2015; NCSL, 2016). There are certain states that provide more flexibility than others and that allow the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of any illness for which the drug provides relief for the individual. Given the steady liberalization of cannabis laws, the numbers of these states are likely to increase and therefore support the efforts to clarify the potential therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis on various health outcomes. (Excerpt from: “4 Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids” pg 86-88.doi: 10.17226/24625.)



As of January 2019, Medscape reports:

The list of states where medical or recreational use of marijuana and CBD is legal keeps growing. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., have passed medical marijuana laws (including 10 states and the nation’s capital where recreational and medical use is legal), says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Also, 14 states have enacted CBD-explicit medical laws.

State Medical Cannabis/Marijuana laws can be viewed here. There will be more details on legality issues in a future article.

Coming up in future posts:

  • The difference between cannabis species, its compounds including THC and CBD, and their uses.
  • What has fueled the recent popularity and re-emergence of CBD oil.
  • “Weeding out more of the details” on the legal issues around cannabis, hemp, and CBD.
  • Some of the caveats and potential dangers of CBD.
  • A review of its efficacy from various trials, including clinical ones.

Stay Tuned.


Please feel free to comment below!


This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)

Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.

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  1. Jeff Winship January 15, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Once again, GREAT complementary research to what I have also found. Looking forward to your future articles on this topic.

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