If there’s anything we all can agree on, it’s that there’s way more to learn about CBD than can fit on one page. If you consider yourself an avid fan, user, advocate, or expert on CBD, just know that there is still much to learn about the wonder molecule. CBD is one of the most predominant of over 80 chemical compounds that grow inside the resin glands (trichomes) of the cannabis plant. It works as an “agonist,” binding to our cellular walls where the cannabinoid receptors live. If you picture these receptors as locks, then agonists are like the keys.
Overall, our body is like the Pont des Arts “love lock” bridge of Paris and cannabis has the power to interact with all of the different kinds of locks there. Some of the other receptors include Vanilloid receptors, for pain modulation; Adenosine receptors, which aid the sleep-wake cycle; and Serotonin receptors, which help with mood and stress management.
Most of what CBD affects are the cell receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Besides having many jobs—neuroprotection, stress recovery, immune balance, and homeostatic regulation—the ECS is one of the most interesting neurotransmitter systems in nature. It consists of heavily-concentrated receptors along the central nervous system while others are found around major organs—from our skin to our digestive tract. But CBD’s influence doesn’t end there. The homeostasis that CBD creates can ultimately affect things like pain perception, sleep, immune function, mood, memory, motor control, reproduction, and neurological disorders. Therefore, CBD is a polypharmacological referring to how it influences different endo-biological pathways at once. This characteristic of CBD makes it complex, exciting, and also very challenging to study.
Scientists are frustrated by the barriers they must leap over to conduct necessary studies into marijuana’s potential therapeutic benefits and risks; one of them being CBD’s legal status. Many strains of “medical marijuana” are found to have a significant variety of the ratios of CBD to THC. In the eyes of the law, it is the amount of ∆9-THC that chemically determines whether the plant is considered hemp, or marijuana. So, even though the cannabidiol found in both hemp and marijuana is the same, the legal definition of each type is not.
Remember that a bud advertised as “high-CBD” doesn’t always mean it’s THC-free. Charlotte’s Web may contain less than one percent Tetrahydrocannabinol, but that doesn’t mean that other CBD-dominant strains—Harlequin, CBD Critical Cure, Cannatonic, Sour Tsunami, and ACDC—don’t contain trace amounts. Always ask your budtender or producer for testing information about the particular strain.
Alana seeks to see cannabis from the perspective of politicians, advocates, entrepreneurs, and consumers. She got her start with a byline in the arts and culture section and crossed over into cannabis after using it medicinally. Current projects include investigations into cannabis and wellness; entrepreneurs of the Green Rush; cannabis for athletes; and the evolution of cannabis laws and culture in Canada.