Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 60 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis.It is a major phytocannabinoid, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. CBD is considered to have a wider scope of medical applications than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). An orally-administered liquid containing CBD has received orphan drug status in the US, for use as a treatment for dravet syndrome under the brand name, Epidiolex.
Decades ago, selective breeding by growers in US dramatically lowered the CBD content of cannabis; their customers preferred varietals that were more mind-altering due to a higher THC, lower CBD content. To meet the demands of medical cannabis patients, growers are currently developing more CBD-rich strains.
In November 2012, Tikun Olam, an Israeli medical cannabis facility announced a new strain of the plant which has only cannabidiol as an active ingredient, and virtually no THC, providing some of the medicinal benefits of cannabis without the euphoria. The researchers said the cannabis plant, enriched with CBD, “can be used for treating diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, liver inflammation, heart disease and diabetes”. Research on CBD enhanced cannabis began in 2009, resulting in Avidekel, a cannabis strain that contains 15.8% CBD and less than 1% THC. Raphael Mechoulam, a cannabinoid researcher, said “…Avidekel is thought to be the first CBD-enriched cannabis plant with no THC to have been developed in Israel”
Legal status (as of 6/2014)
Cannabidiol is not scheduled by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Cannabidiol is a Schedule II drug in Canada.
Cannabidiol’s legal status in the United States:
While the DEA Drug Schedule classifies THC (Tetrahydrocannabinols) and marijuana as Schedule I, cannabidiol is not found on the list. Other synthetic cannabinoids such as JWH-019,073,081,122,200,203,250,398 are also listed in Schedule I, but cannabidiol is absent.
Marijuana is defined by 21 U.S.C. §802(16), which is part of the Controlled Substances Act. The mature stalks and seeds of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, as well as products derived from the mature stalks and seeds are explicitly exempt from classification as marijuana. Under this exception, what are known as industrial hemp-finished products are legally imported into the United States each year. Hemp finished products, including hemp oil high in cannabidiol, are legal in the United States for this reason.
Some cannabidiol oil is derived from marijuana and is therefore high in THC. This type of cannabidiol oil would be considered a Schedule I as a result. However, cannabidiol derived from industrial hemp is legal and unscheduled itself. In other words, cannabidiol’s legal status depends on where it is derived from, as cannabidiol itself is not scheduled.
In October 2003, U.S. patent #6630507 entitled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” was assigned to “The United States Of America As Represented By The Department Of Health And Human Services.”
The patent was filed in April 1999 and listed as the inventors: Aidan J. Hampson, Julius Axelrod, and Maurizio Grimaldi, who all held positions at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, MD, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The patent mentions cannabidiol’s ability as an antiepileptic, to lower intraocular pressure in the treatment of glaucoma, lack of toxicity or serious side effects in large acute doses, its neuroprotectant properties, its ability to prevent neurotoxicity mediated by NMDA, AMPA, or kainate receptors; its ability to attenuate glutamate toxicity, its ability to protect against cellular damage, its ability to protect brains from ischemic damage, its anxiolytic effect, and its superior antioxidant activity which can be used in the prophylaxis and treatment of oxidation associated diseases.“
“Oxidative associated diseases include, without limitation, free radical associated diseases, such as ischemia, ischemic reperfusion injury, inflammatory diseases, systemic lupus erythematosus, myocardial ischemia or infarction, cerebrovascular accidents (such as a thromboembolic or hemorrhagic stroke) that can lead to ischemia or an infarct in the brain, operative ischemia, traumatic hemorrhage (for example a hypovolemic stroke that can lead to CNS hypoxia or anoxia), spinal cord trauma, Down’s syndrome,
Crohn’s disease, autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes), cataract formation, uveitis, emphysema, gastric ulcers, oxygen toxicity, neoplasia, undesired cellular apoptosis, radiation sickness, and others. The present invention is believed to be particularly beneficial in the treatment of oxidative associated diseases of the CNS, because of the ability of the cannabinoids to cross the blood brain barrier and exert their antioxidant effects in the brain. In particular embodiments, the pharmaceutical composition of the present invention is used for preventing, arresting, or treating neurological damage in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV dementia; autoimmune neurodegeneration of the type that can occur in encephalitis, and hypoxic or anoxic neuronal damage that can result from apnea, respiratory arrest or cardiac arrest, and anoxia caused by drowning, brain surgery or trauma (such as concussion or spinal cord shock).”
On November 17, 2011, the Federal Register published that the National Institutes of Health of the United States Department of Health and Human Services was “contemplating the grant of an exclusive patent license to practice the invention embodied in U.S. Patent 6,630,507” to the company KannaLife based in New York, for the development and sale of cannabinoid and cannabidiol based therapeutics for the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy in humans