Laws and Regulations

The History of CBD

Written by Dianelle Bresler

Greetings readers. Today, we are excited to share with you an incredibly important article; the chronological history of CBD. Prepare for a journey through time, beginning from the initial discovery of CBD,all the way through the present day.

1940 – Initial Discovery

CBD was first discovered in 1940 by Harvard Alumni Roger Adams. At the time, Adams was an organic chemist at the University of Illinois, researching cannabis chemistry. He isolated the chemical compound from Cannabis sativa L.,but was not able todescribe its chemical structure. He did not really know what he had found (1).

1946 –Lab Tests

Even though the structure of the cannabinoid had not been fully elucidated, scientists began testing it on lab animals. Results from CBD exposure showed no observable effects, while THC caused catalepsy (induced trance) in mice.

1963 – Chemical Structure Identified

Israeli scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, mostly known for discovering the structure of THC,identified CBDs stereochemistry in his laboratory at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Late-1960’s – Physiological Effects Discovered

Mechoulam and his lab began testing cannabinoidson primates. It was soon discovered that THC—not CBD—was responsible for causing sedated, intoxicating cerebral effects associated with cannabis use.

1978 – New Mexico Acknowledges CBD

Since CBD was not mentioned in the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act in New Mexico, it became the first state to legally acknowledge CBD as a medicine.

1980 – Epilepsy Breakthrough Trials go Unnoticed

Dr. Mechoulam and a research team from Sao Paulo, Brazil conducted the first double-blind trials of CBD on patients with severe epilepsy. Results of the published study revealed that 100% of the sixteen clinical patients that were given CBD exhibited improved condition with little to no side effects.

Considered one of the most significant breakthrough in the history of clinical cannabis research, the pharmaceutical and medical industry disregarded the findings. It is believed the American Counterculture movement of 1964-72 was primarily responsible for creating a negative perception in the medical community about the potential therapeutic use of cannabis (2).

1996 – Medical Legalization Begins

The first state to legalize medical cannabis, and to pave the way for what was to come, was California. The approval of California’s Proposition 215; The Compassionate Use Act (or Medical Marijuana Initiative) legalized the possession or cultivation of cannabis with recommendation from a certified physician and exempted them from criminal law (3).

Soon after, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington legalized medical cannabis in 1998. Maine followed in 1999, then Hawaii, Nevada and Colorado in 2000.

2003 – CBD is Patented

The United States government patented CBD as a neuroprotectant under U.S. patent #6,630,507. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was issued a patent of CBD for use in neuroprotectant therapy.

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new-found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases” – Text from patent (4).

2013 – CBD Recognized as Medical Therapy

The first widespread recognition of CBD as a medicine was when Charlotte Figi, a 5-year-old girl from Colorado. She suffers from a severe and untreatable form of epilepsy called Dravey Syndrome. After exhausting all treatment options, shewas given a dose of 4 mg per pound of body weight of high-CBD cannabis oil.

Before CBD, Charlotte was having 300 seizures a week, unable to walk, talk, or eat.Now, her seizures have been reduced to 2-3 each month, mostly in her sleep. She has essentially been cured. The story went national and pushed CBD to be legalized. Now, the strain she used is successfully treating patients with epilepsy, cancer, and has been named Charlotte’s Webin her honor (5).

2014 – CBD Legalized in Non-Medicinal State

Although medicinal cannabis was still illegal in certain states, Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin passed legislation as the first states to legalize CBD where medical cannabis was illegal.

2018 – CBD on the Way to FDA Approval

On April 19th, 2018, the FDA unanimously endorsed Epidolex, a CBD medication that treats epilepsy in children.The FDA will reach a decision this June. If approved, this could be the final spark we need to reach full global CBD legalization (6).



About the author

Dianelle Bresler