A Brief History of CBD

Although CBD oil is getting plenty of mainstream attention, it doesn’t mean that it’s completely new. In fact, CBD has a long fascinating history. The first documented use of medicine derived from cannabis dates all the way back to 2737 BC. While the cannabis plant has been around for a long time, the recognition that it’s composed of unique compounds called cannabinoids is much more recent.  

During the rise of modern medicine, Cannabis was largely unrecognized by the medical community due to the lack of scientific evidence of how it worked or even if it worked at all. In 1839 however, an Irish physician and medical researcher named William O’ Shaughnessy published a study exploring the effects of Cannabis. He also described possible medical applications of which helped set the stage for future research.

The Discovery of Cannabinoids 

In 1940, chemist Robert Kahn identified the structure of the Cannabis plant in an individual cannabinoid called CBN. Then in 1942, American chemist Roger Adams and his colleagues successfully isolated a cannabinoid for the first time, Cannabidiol (CBD). Two years later, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was isolated for the first time.


You will likely recognize THC as a psychoactive compound of the plant that causes euphoric effects. That’s going to be important later so please keep that in mind. Now once scientists understood that there were multiple cannabinoids and were able to isolate them, research into how individual cannabinoids worked quickly grew.    

In 1946, Dr. Walters conducted tests using Cannabis on lab animals. We know that THC caused psychoactive effects on the animals while CBD did not. Then in 1963, Dr. Rafael McCullum took this research a step further and discovered the chemistry of CBD followed by the stereochemistry of THC. One year later this revealed a direct relationship between THC and the euphoric effects associated with cannabis and distanced CBD from the mind-altering compound.

Cannabis Stigma Stalls Research

Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding the Cannabis plant due to the psychoactive euphoric effects often caused by THC led to restrictions on the availability of Cannabis even for academic purposes.

It became very difficult to do research on Cannabis because possessing it even for academic purposes was prohibited for many years. Scientific research on Cannabis and CBD was held back.  While Cannabis research may have been hindered by stigma, it wouldn’t be defeated by it.

In 1978, New Mexico became the first state to pass legislation allowing the medical use of cannabis in some form. They did so through the Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Act which allowed the use of Cannabis through a research program approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Then in 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana with the passing of proposition 215. Many other states soon followed suit, and with the legalization of medical marijuana came legal access to Cannabis and that allowed researchers to dive deeper into the study of CBD.

Current State of CBD

Let’s jump ahead to the current state of CBD.  The 2018 Farm Bill laid the groundwork for the legalization of cultivating hemp and its products such as CBD. This bill outlined the rules and regulations surrounding the growing and cultivation of hemp and that by law it must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. This means CBD is federally legal as long as it is hemp-derived and contains 0.3 percent THC or less.  

With the widespread legalization of hemp-derived CBD,  has come renewed interest and CBD oil is now one of the most popular products in the health and wellness industry.  

CBD is widely available and more and more research is being done. These studies will likely lead to more recognition of how CBD can help with people’s health and lifestyles. We’re confident that for many years to come, CBD will not just be a popular supplement, but one that offers a multitude of health benefits for all types of people around the world.