CBD oil has been in the headlines and on the shelves with regularity recently, and that’s putting things mildly. Whilst many people still associate CBD oil and its associated products with cannabis (and the shade still being cast by a hugely problematic ‘war on drugs’) it’s important to note that it contains none of those feared psychoactive properties. What’s more, an increasing amount of research suggests there are a wide variety of potential health benefits to be found in the product. With the landscape ever changing, let’s dive in; here’s the IDEAL guide to the CBD oil market in 2020.

SO, JUST WHAT IS CBD?

Let’s speak in layman’s terms here. CBD oil is derived from the hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant. There is an overlap in how CBD oil affects our bodies, but CBD has causes none of the unwelcome effects of cannabis, such as psychosis or habitual dependence. This is because it doesn’t contain THC, the most well-known chemical made by the cannabis plant, which is what causes the characteristic ‘high’ we associate with marijuana. CBD is the second-most abundant chemical produced by the cannabis plant, offering the benefits of THC (potential pain relief, anxiety alleviation and more) without the side-effects.

THE KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MARIJUANA & CBD

Marijuana has been around for a long time, with cultivation dating back thousands of years. Although it’s now legal in many US states, it remains illegal to buy marijuana in the UK – in fact, it has been illegal since 1928. There are many people who would like the drug to be decriminalised, but that doesn’t look like it’s happening anytime soon. However,  the public perception is generally that it is mostly harmless. 

That said, and it’s important to reiterate for those at the back, CBD is not the same as marijuana, and using CBD products isn’t illegal. You won’t get into trouble for taking CBD to help with chronic pain or anxiety, or just for negligible kicks, either. 

SO WHAT’S SPARKED THE RISE OF CBD?

In 2008, legislation was passed in the US that legalised hemp and removed CBD from a list of controlled substances. In the UK, CBD was never on a list of controlled substances, but it only became popular when the US market began to expand.  

The main reason why hemp was legalised in the US was to make it easier to exploit hemp as source material for textiles, paper, and even concrete. CBD was just an additional product that manufacturers could make from hemp. It has since grown into a huge industry all of its own, though evidence of genuine, concrete benefits has yet to be found.

In the US, the drive towards the legalisation of marijuana has contributed to a corresponding rise in the demand for CBD and other cannabinoid products. In the UK, marijuana is still illegal, but CBD is not – as long as it doesn’t contain THC, the active ingredient of marijuana.

Today, in the UK, the market for CBD is worth around £300 million per year. Industry experts believe it will be worth £1 billion by 2025, as CBD products further penetrate the health supplement market. 

The problem up until now has been that CBD products are largely unregulated. Some don’t contain CBD at all, and others have illegal levels (above 0.3%) of THC. Up until recently, it has been almost impossible for a consumer to know what they were buying when they clicked on a product in an online store. These risks can be minimised by buying UK hemp oil products from reputable stores like Hempura, rather than eBay sellers or stores in the Amazon marketplace, which can sometimes be erratically monitored.

WHAT CAN CBD OIL POTENTIALLY DO?

UK sellers of CBD products are not allowed to make medical claims. This is strictly forbidden under UK law. As such, many consumers rely on anecdotal claims before buying CBD products, as CBD is now inextricably linked to key medical benefits. That said, there is a growing body of evidence claiming to show how effective CBD is at treating certain conditions.

THC research has shown that it can relieve various ailments, including nausea, pain, depression and anxiety, and insomnia. However, in some people it can cause psychotic symptoms, and if used long-term, can alter brain chemistry. CBD has similar properties to THC, as it’s simply another cannabinoid from the same plant. It too has been proven to help relieve chronic pain, sickness, depression, and insomnia, yet it doesn’t make us high. Whether that’s a blessing or curse is in the eyes of the beholder.

HOW TO TAKE CBD

There are many ways to take CBD. It is available as an oil, which can be placed under the tongue. You can also smoke or vape CBD, and take it in capsule form. Some stores also sell CBD gummies and other edibles. In addition, CBD is available as patches or topic creams. 

DOES CBD WORK FOR EVERYONE?

CBD is very effective, but it won’t work for everyone. Whilst studies have shown positive results, many trials were not controlled and there is some evidence the results were caused by a ‘placebo’ effect. Approach with both an open mind and a degree of scepticism, and you might find it useful.