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Quick History of How CBD Was First Found

Quick History of How CBD Was First Found

Published by Programme B

The cannabis plant has come a long way, from being considered dangerous and harmful to be an increasingly popular supplement for certain health conditions. 

Nowadays, products containing Cannabinoids such as CBD oils, topical creams, edibles and CBD terpenes are readily accessible for those who need relief from conditions such as epilepsy, chronic pain, depression and anxiety. 

But the journey to legalizing and identifying the benefits of CBD didn’t take place overnight. It took years of research and experimentation to determine that isolated compounds of marijuana can have different effects on the human brain. It also took time before the use of CBD became acceptable and unprejudiced. 

The following is a quick history of how CBD was first found:


First Recorded Use of Cannabis

Emperor Sheng Neng of China was believed to be one of the first individuals to use cannabis as a form of treatment for certain illnesses, during 2727 BC. He infused cannabis into tea and used it to treat poor memory, malaria, rheumatism, and even gout. 

It is also believed that Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom used cannabis as a medication for menstrual cramps during her reign. 

Isolation of CBD from the Cannabis Plant (1940) 

The first known record of isolating CBD from the Cannabis plant can be contributed to Harvard alumni Roger Adams. He was an organic chemist at the University of Illinois, with a keen interest in the chemistry of marijuana. 

He was able to isolate the chemical compound from the plant, but didn’t know how to describe the chemical structure at the time. The confirmation of his scientific breakthrough was only later discovered by researchers upon checking his records. 


Testing of CBD on Primates (1960s)

After the success of isolating various chemical components from hemp, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made a breakthrough in understanding the effects of isolated cannabinoids by testing the compounds on primates.

This experience led to the discovery that CBD was not the cause of the euphoric sensation induced by the plant, but another component called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

The Use of Cannabis Tincture For Medical Purposes (the 1970s)

Thanks to the findings of Dr. Mechoulam regarding active cannabinoids in marijuana, the interest in the plant’s potential medicinal benefits emerged.

The British Pharmacopoeia, an annual publication of quality standards for medicinal materials in the UK, released a tincture possible containing a full-spectrum CBD for medicinal use.

Acknowledgment of Cannabis for Medical Use (1978)

The first US state to legally acknowledge cannabis as a medicinal substance was New Mexico. The Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act recognized cannabis chemicals as a potential medical solution, although it did not specifically mention CBD. Even if it was a small act towards getting CBD the medical recognition it deserved, it helped push more attention on marijuana use.

cropped view of woman holding wooden gavel near cannabis leaf and legalization lettering on wooden blocks

Legalizing Marijuana Use (1996)

Weed was first legalized in California in 1996, although at the time, there was no specific mention of CBD. The decision to recognize the potential medical benefits of the cannabis plant paved the way for public support and research. The first marijuana dispensary in the U.S to make the plant available to the public was Fairfax’s Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana. Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, Nevada and Colorado also legalized marijuana use within the next three years.

Thanks to the legalization of marijuana, researchers were able to further examine the medical benefits of cannabinoids. Research on the potential outcome of CBD use for various health conditions, such as chronic pain, epilepsy, and various neurodegenerative diseases also took flight. 

Although marijuana use has been legalized in a number of states in the U.S, the stigma towards cannabis was still very present, with two out of three Americans opposing its legalization. 

The distinction between compounds of the cannabis plant, such as THC and CBD, still fell under a very gray area and was considered unfamiliar to the general public.

America’s sentiments towards marijuana as a gateway drug led people to believe that the plant’s medical derivations were harmful, addictive, and dangerous.

Doctor writing on prescription blank and bottle with medical cannabis on table close up

CBD As An Epilepsy Medication (2013)

The misconception about CBD was seemingly unshakable until a child’s miraculous experience with it was publicized, and brought light to the potential benefits of medical marijuana. A young girl diagnosed with a rare form of chronic epilepsy called Dravet’s Syndrome, Charlotte Figi, eased her seizures with the help of a high-CBD product. From the age of three months up until she was five years old, she suffered from over 300 grand mal seizures each week, with no hope for a cure or even anything to soften her condition. 

However, all her seizures were resolved with the use of medical cannabis, and her story was broadcasted nationwide by CNN in 2013, gaining medical marijuana widespread attention. Thanks to the news about Figi’s experience, the support for CBD as a form of medical therapy was given solid ground from which to expand.

Legalization Of CBD In More US States (2014) 

More states legalized medical CBD in 2014, marking the first time when cannabinoids were legally recognized as a medical remedy to certain health conditions. Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin all legalized the use of medical marijuana. 

Availability Of CBD Products In The Market

The United States passed a law in December of 2018 to make CBD derived from the cannabis plant legal on a federal level.

Most states have imposed a variety of laws and regulations, with some requiring a prescription prior to any CBD purchase; however, for the most part, the use of CBD has generally become more acceptable across the country.

Nowadays, CBD can be purchased from online stores, groceries, and pharmacies with little to no difficulty. Most people turn to CBD to address medical conditions such as chronic pain, epilepsy seizures, or even diabetes.

In Conclusion

Although there is still a heavy stigma on cannabis and CBD products, years of research and legal action have helped to bring the benefits of CBD to light and to make it more accessible to those who may need it.

The CBD market will only increase in the years to come, and many more will discover the benefits of cannabis; however, it’s important to note that the CBD industry is still growing, and we have yet to even realize the full potential of the plant.