What is a Cannabinoid? There are three types of cannabinoids: Endocannabinoids, which are produced naturally in the body; man-made cannabinoids, which can be really dangerous; and the most popular, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, which come from the marijuana plant.
All three kinds of cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body. CB1 receptors, located primarily in the brain, are believed to control mood, memory, sleep, appetite and pain. CB2 receptors are located in parts of the body that produce blood cells, such as the spleen, and are believed to affect inflammation
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis sativa plant. (THC is the cannabinoid that gives marijuana its high.) Because of its purported health benefits, you can now find CBD in food, drinks, lotions and a whole host of other products. By definition, CBD products contain no more than a 0.3% concentration of THC – thus CBD products won’t cause a “high” feeling.
One of the biggest uses for topical CBD products is for musculoskeletal complaints. A 2019 report from the Arthritis Foundation found that 79% of the 2,600 arthritis patients surveyed had considered using CBD or had already used it. Twenty-nine percent said they currently used it for arthritis symptoms; among those using CBD, 55% used a topical product applied to the joints. In addition to arthritis, topical CBD products are geared to help people with eczema and psoriasis, says Samantha Morrison, a cannabis researcher at Glacier Wellness, a CBD company in Cedarhurst, New York.
The issue of legality comes down to how the CBD is obtained. The THC portions of the cannabis plant include the flowering tops (buds), the leaves and the resin of the plant. The remainder — the stalks and sterilized seeds — is where most CBD comes from. However, producers can also obtain it from the THC portions in which case it might yield a mixture of THC and CBD.
According to Katherine Pfaff, a spokesperson for the DEA, “If the product does cause THC to enter the human body and/or contains greater than 0.3 percent of THC, it is an illegal substance that may not be manufactured, sold or consumed in the United States. If, however, the product does not cause THC to enter the human body and contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it is a non-controlled substance that may lawfully be sold.”
The National Institutes of Health lists over 150 studies involving CBD as a treatment for various diseases. The World Health Organization concluded in a press release that CBD is not harmful. And in the sports world, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from its prohibited substances list.