CBD Explained

What exactly is CBD? And why are these shops suddenly popping up all over Plano?

You might have noticed that recently the letters “CBD” are popping up everywhere. There are entire stores in Plano now dedicated to oils, balms, lotions and more, all containing this mystery ingredient. But what exactly is it? What are the benefits? And is it even legal? I asked these questions to retail, medical and legal professionals. Here’s what I found out.

What is CBD?

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of several chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. This means it is present, in different quantities, in two cousins in the cannabis family: marijuana and hemp. The CBD found in most commercial products you’ll encounter derives from hemp and not marijuana.

Can it get you high?

Most of the confusion about CBD comes from its association with marijuana, and the misconception that CBD offers a similar high to marijuana. This is an easy mistake since CBD is a chemical that is present in marijuana. But, it’s not the chemical that gets people high. Tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, is what gives people a euphoric effect when they smoke or ingest marijuana. THC levels vary greatly between marijuana and hemp, as do CBD levels.

Unlike the levels of THC present in marijuana (more than 20 percent), hemp only contains 0.3 percent THC, which is just not enough to cause the more celebrated effects of marijuana use. In contrast, marijuana usually contains around 10 percent CBD, while hemp contains more than 20 percent. So when it comes down to harvesting cannabidiol, it makes more sense to harvest hemp.

What does CBD do?

Since CBD doesn’t produce a “high,” there are other reasons it has exploded in popularity.

“It makes you feel better,” claims Eric Johnson, Plano resident and partner at Spectrum CBD, a company that creates various CBD products including tinctures, sleep strips and balms. He adds, “That’s really the whole thing. We kept trying to come up with a way to explain CBD benefits, and the truth is, it just makes you feel better.”

One of the primary reasons the partners at Spectrum CBD began their business was a desire to find alternatives to opioids. They report that CBD offers relief from three consistent health and wellness assailants: stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation. Eric shared testimonials of people that claim a positive impact from CBD when dealing with chronic pain, insomnia and neurological illnesses.

Michael R. Welch, president and CEO at HEMPd, a producer of CBD-infused beverages, elaborates on how he understands CBD impacts the body. “The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a biochemical communication system in the body that is believed to help regulate everything from our mood to our sleep patterns. Receptors throughout the body appear to interact with CBD to create a sense of balance in our wellness. The ECS affects sleep, appetite, digestion, sex drive, fertility, the immune system, pain and memory.”

There’s certainly a lot of science to consider. And then there’s the question of legality.

Is CBD legal?

Many people have shied away from CBD because they aren’t sure if it’s legal. I spoke with Gail Leyko, legal advisor for Plano Police Department, to clear things up.

There’s a lot of legal language involved in answering the question of CBD’s legality, but the gist of it, according to Gail, is, “On June 10th, 2019, the governor signed HB 1325 authorizing hemp possession… As long as the THC concentration is 0.3 percent or less, then it is a legal hemp product.”

Gail also explains some of the forecasted CBD regulation that will take place. She says, “HB 1325 authorizes the Texas Department of Agriculture to develop and submit a plan to the United States Department of Agriculture to regulate the legal production, sale and transportation of hemp products, including CBD products, in Texas. It is expected to be several months before this regulatory system is in place.”

This newfound legalization accounts for the sudden proliferation of CBD shops opening in Plano.

So is it safe?

While testimonials abound, it may be too soon to know the long-term positive or negative effects of CBD. 

“There are no known addictive or habit-forming properties to CBD oil itself and, to my knowledge, it has little effect on helping to weaken cravings or addiction to other substances,” said Dr. M. Keith Schrader at Center for Executive Medicine in Plano. 

“However, high quality medical research with it is limited. Regulations from the federal government and the Drug Enforcement Administration have loosened only in the last few years, meaning there hasn’t been time to study it in great detail.”

He added that the best dose and duration to use any CBD products are not well defined at this point.  

What type of products should you look for?

Eric at Spectrum CBD goes on to explain the types of CBD found on the market: “You will find THC in small amounts in some CBD, this is what’s called full-spectrum CBD. That has .03 percent THC, which is the max amount in hemp. It won’t get you high, but it could still register on things like drug tests.” 

“At Spectrum CBD we work with the alternative for full-spectrum CBD, which is called broad-spectrum. Broad-spectrum CBD means there is absolutely no THC. A lot of people out there want the benefits of CBD but don’t want to be involved at all with THC. If that’s you, you’ll want to go with broad-spectrum.”

This differentiator is something to keep in mind. Also, the products may interact in different ways. When applied as a lotion or ointment, it has been known to assist in nerve pain. Ingested, it is said to relax anxiety and pain.

With edible snacks in all forms, including cookies and fruit snacks, topical options of all variety, tablets, breathing strips, and even coffees and teas, there is no shortage of CBD options for the consumer.

The Verdict

If you’re looking to get high, CBD is not going to do it. It might relieve your chronic pain, sleep deprivation and anxiety, and is legal when extracted from hemp.

Disclaimer: Though this author did partake in an assortment of CBD products in the spirit of Gonzo journalism made famous by Hunter S. Thompson, this is an altogether subjective piece with the opinions expressed by myself and members of the community being their own and not belonging to Plano Magazine. It is suggested to consult with your primary care physician before trying any CBD products.

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