In addition to positively affecting the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been the focus of more than 23,000 published studies about cannabinoids in relation to various medical indications including anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation, cancer and chronic pain to name few. For a more comprehensive look at these and other studies, visit our medical research and education page.
The 2014 US Farm Bill allows states that have passed their own industrial hemp legislation to grow industrial hemp for purposes of research and development. Several states — including Kentucky, Colorado, and Oregon — are already conducting hemp pilot projects. Many other states are currently pursuing similar legislation and programs. After many years of prohibition, American farmers are finally reacquainting themselves with industrial hemp.
Cannabidiol has been found to act as an antagonist of GPR55, a G protein-coupled receptor and putative cannabinoid receptor that is expressed in the caudate nucleus and putamen in the brain. It has also been found to act as an inverse agonist of GPR3, GPR6, and GPR12. Although currently classified as orphan receptors, these receptors are most closely related phylogeneticaly to the cannabinoid receptors. In addition to orphan receptors, CBD has been shown to act as a serotonin 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist, and this action may be involved in its antidepressant, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective effects. It is an allosteric modulator of the μ- and δ-opioid receptors as well. The pharmacological effects of CBD have additionally been attributed to PPARγ agonism and intracellular calcium release.
Nabiximols (Sativex), a Cannabis extract with a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD, is approved in Canada (under the Notice of Compliance with Conditions) for symptomatic relief of pain in advanced cancer and multiple sclerosis. Canada, New Zealand, and some countries in Europe also approve nabiximols for spasticity of multiple sclerosis, a common symptom that may include muscle stiffness, reduced mobility, and pain, and for which existing therapy is unsatisfactory.
According to DSM-V criteria, 9% of those who are exposed to cannabis develop cannabis use disorder, compared to 20% for cocaine, 23% for alcohol and 68% for nicotine. Cannabis abuse disorder in the DSM-V involves a combination of DSM-IV criteria for cannabis abuse and dependence, plus the addition of craving, minus the criterion related to legal troubles.
The Department has policies and procedures in place for the commonwealth's hemp research program, which can be found in the 2019 Pilot Program Parameters. Researchers from institutions of higher education or growers who would like to be considered for participation in the 2019 program must submit a 2019 PDA Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program Permit Application prior to the application deadline of December 17, 2018. Researchers who participated in the 2018 Pilot Program may submit a Permit Renewal form by December 17, 2018 to continue their projects in the 2019 growing season.
There are hundreds of compounds in marijuana, but scientists believe the one responsible for the drugs' psychoactive effects is tetrahydrocannbinol, or THC. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, and marijuana's "high" comes from THC's binding to brain regions responsible for pleasure, time perception and pain, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Industrial hemp is a versatile agricultural plant which could one day be a valuable crop option for Pennsylvania farmers. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has taken some important steps toward making that a reality. Following Governor Wolf’s signing of the Industrial Hemp Research Act, Number 92 in 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program started issuing permits for research & growth of industrial hemp in 2017. Pennsylvania’s industrial hemp legislation was sparked by the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which gave federal permission for institutions of higher education or state Departments of Agriculture to research the cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. As part of Pennsylvania’s Research Pilot Program, industrial hemp was legally grown in the Commonwealth after an 80 years hiatus. The Department of Agriculture has issued 35 research permits in the last two years to institutions of higher education and to farmers, business or individuals in contract with the Department to participate in the research of industrial hemp cultivation and marketing in Pennsylvania. In 2018, 35 research permits were issued to researchers, who cultivated industrial hemp in 25 Pennsylvania counties.
Anybody can apply to grow industrial hemp except one who has been convicted of a felony for controlled substance in the past 10 years. Anyone who has been issued a hemp license can grow on the approved growing areas indicated on their application. Licensed industrial hemp can be grown anywhere, indoor or outdoor. The research pilot program allows for any size growing area, from large acre lots to small garden sizes. There are no zoning requirements for a hemp license.
Hemp, grown under license mostly in Canada, is the most publicized “new” crop in North America. Until very recently the prohibition against drug forms of the plant prevented consideration of cultivation of fiber and oilseed cultivars in Canada. However, in the last 10 years three key developments occurred: (1) much-publicized recent advances in the legal cultivation of hemp in western Europe, especially for new value-added products; (2) enterprising farmers and farm groups became convinced of the agricultural potential of hemp in Canada, and obtained permits to conduct experimental cultivation; and (3) lobby groups convinced the government of Canada that narcotic forms of the hemp plant are distinct and distinguishable from fiber and oilseed forms. In March 1998, new regulations (under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) were provided to allow the commercial development of a hemp industry in Canada, and since then more than a thousand licenses have been issued. Hectares licensed for cultivation for 1998–2001 were respectively, 2,500, 14,200, 5,487, and 1,355, the decreasing trend due to a glut of seed produced in 1999 and pessimism over new potential regulations barring exports to the US. Information on the commercial potential of hemp in Canada is in Blade (1998), Marcus (1998), and Pinfold Consulting (1998). In the US, a substantial trade in hemp products has developed, based on imports of hemp fiber, grain, and oil. The American agricultural community has observed this, and has had success at the state level in persuading legislators of the advisability of experimental hemp cultivation as a means of evaluating the wisdom of re-establishing American hemp production. However, because of opposition by the federal government, to date there has only been a small experimental plot in Hawaii. Information on the commercial potential of hemp in the US is presented in the following.
Fig. 8. Scanning electron micrographs of the abaxial surface of a perigonal bract (which envelops the fruit). These bracts are the most intoxicating part of the plant, and may contain 20% THC, dry weight. The resin is synthesized both in stalked and sessile glands. Multicellular secretory glands (of phallic appearance), some broken stalks of these (note cellular appearance), and unicellular cystolith hairs (claw-like structures) are pictured. Fig. 9. Some important cannabinoids of cannabis resin. D9-THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chief intoxicant chemical and predominates in intoxicant strains, while the isomer D8-THC is usually present in no more than trace amounts. CBD (cannabidiol) is the chief non-intoxicant chemical, and predominates in non-intoxicant strains; it has sedative effects. The non-intoxicant CBN (cannabinol) is a frequent degradation or oxidation product. The non-intoxicant cannabichromene (CBC) is typically found in trace amounts in intoxicant strains. The non-intoxicant cannabigerol (CBG) is considered to be a precursor of the other cannbinoids (see Fig. 10).
The Spaniards brought hemp to the Americas and cultivated it in Chile starting about 1545. Similar attempts were made in Peru, Colombia, and Mexico, but only in Chile did the crop find success. In July 1605, Samuel Champlain reported the use of grass and hemp clothing by the (Wampanoag) people of Cape Cod and the (Nauset) people of Plymouth Bay told him they harvested hemp in their region where it grew wild to a height of 4 to 5 ft.  In May 1607, "hempe" was among the crops Gabriel Archer observed being cultivated by the natives at the main Powhatan village, where Richmond, Virginia is now situated; and in 1613, Samuell Argall reported wild hemp "better than that in England" growing along the shores of the upper Potomac. As early as 1619, the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to sow "both English and Indian" hemp on their plantations. The Puritans are first known to have cultivated hemp in New England in 1645.
Hemp seeds contain virtually no THC, but THC contamination results from contact of the seeds with the resin secreted by the epidermal glands on the leaves and floral parts, and also by the failure to sift away all of the bracts (which have the highest concentration of THC of any parts of the plant) that cover the seeds. This results in small levels of THC appearing in hempseed oil and foods made with the seeds. Although most of the western hemp-growing world uses 0.3% THC as a maximum concentration for authorized cultivation of hemp plants, regulations in various countries allow only a much lower level of THC in human food products manufactured from the seeds. Currently, up to 10 ppm THC is permitted in seeds and oil products used for food purposes in Canada. In Germany, more stringent limits were set for food in 2000: 5 ppm in food oil, 0.005 ppm in beverages, and 0.15 ppm in all other foods. The US Drug Enforcement Administration published new regulations on hemp in the Federal Register on October 9th 2001 that in effect 4 months later would ban the food use of hemp in the US because any amount of THC would be unacceptable in foods (follow links at www.hempreport.com/). These proposals are currently being challenged by the hemp industry. Limits have been set because of concerns about possible toxicity and interference with drug tests (Grotenhermen et al. 1998). An extensive analysis of literature dealing with the toxicity of hemp is in Orr and Starodub (1999; see Geiwitz 2001 for an analysis). Because hemp food products are considered to have great economic potential, there is considerable pressure on the hemp industry in North America to reduce THC levels.
Approximately 65% of sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural land is degraded, according to data collected in 2015, resulting in food insecurity and a declining economy in a region where the agricultural industry employs more than half of the total labor force. Hemp’s soil nutrient replenishing properties could be the key to reviving crop production, providing a novel food source (hemp seeds) and boosting the agro-based economies of South Africa and other hemp-cultivating sub-Saharan countries.