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Along with its better-known counterpart, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces the marijuana high), CBD is one of more than 400 compounds found in the oils of cannabis plant species, which include marijuana and hemp. Unlike THC, CBD will not make you high. That said, this doesn’t mean CBD is not at all psychoactive, as many assert, says Jahan Marcu, Ph.D., director of experimental pharmacology and behavior at the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health in New York City: “CBD does change cognition. It affects mood, which is why people take it for anxiety. And some find that it makes them more alert.”
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Success stories like Oliver’s are everywhere, but there’s not a lot of data to back up those results. That’s because CBD comes from cannabis and, like nearly all other parts of the plant, is categorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a Schedule 1 drug—the most restrictive classification. (Others on that list: heroin, Ecstasy, and peyote.) This classification, which cannabis advocates have tried for years to change, keeps cannabis-derived products, including CBD, from being properly studied in the U.S.
George Washington also imported the Indian Hemp plant from Asia, which was used for fiber and, by some growers, for intoxicating resin production. In a letter to William Pearce who managed the plants for him Washington says, "What was done with the Indian Hemp plant from last summer? It ought, all of it, to be sown again; that not only a stock of seed sufficient for my own purposes might have been raised, but to have disseminated seed to others; as it is more valuable than common hemp."
Although cannabis can be used to make marijuana, CBD itself is non-psychoactive—meaning that it doesn’t get you high the way smoking or eating cannabis-related products containing THC (the plant's psychoactive compound) can. Still, there’s a lot doctors don’t know about CBD and its effects on the body, and a lot consumers should understand before trying it.