Is CBD a Drug? Exploring the Facts and Debunking Myths

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, has gained significant attention for its potential therapeutic benefits, especially in the treatment of seizures and chronic pain. CBD is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant, but unlike its fellow compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce psychoactive effects or a “high.” As the popularity of CBD products has grown, there has been much debate about whether CBD should be classified as a drug, a supplement, or something else altogether.

In recent years, the legal and regulatory status of CBD has evolved in the United States and around the world. Some countries allow the use of CBD for medicinal purposes, while others view it as a controlled substance. Even within the United States, different states have varying laws and regulations regarding the use and sale of CBD products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a prescription CBD oil called Epidiolex for certain severe seizure disorders, further adding to the complexity of defining CBD’s role as a drug or supplement.

Key Takeaways

  • CBD is derived from the cannabis plant and has potential therapeutic benefits without causing a “high.”
  • Legal and regulatory status of CBD varies across different countries and states.
  • FDA has approved a prescription CBD oil for certain severe seizure disorders.

What Is CBD?

Definition and Extraction of CBD

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a natural compound found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. It is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, meaning it does not produce a “high” unlike its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 1(

Extracting CBD from the plant can be done using several methods, with the most common being:

  1. CO2 extraction
  2. Ethanol extraction
  3. Olive oil extraction

Cannabis Sativa and Hemp Plant Origins

Cannabidiol is derived from two plants within the cannabis sativa family: the marijuana and hemp plants. The primary difference between these two plants is the concentration of CBD and THC they contain; hemp plants are known for their high CBD and low THC content 2(

Hemp-derived CBD is legal in many countries, while marijuana-derived CBD may face more restrictions due to its higher THC content. The distinction is important to note for users seeking the benefits of CBD without the mind-altering effects of THC.

In summary, CBD is a natural compound found in cannabis plants, particularly in the Cannabis Sativa family. It can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants and offers potential health benefits without producing a psychoactive “high.”

CBD’s Legal and Regulatory Status

The Farm Bill and Hemp Regulation

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and removed it from the Controlled Substances Act, thus changing the landscape of CBD regulation in the United States. Hemp is defined as the Cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3% THC content. This legislation allowed for the cultivation, production, and interstate commerce of hemp-derived products, leading to the increasing availability of CBD products in the market. It’s crucial to understand that CBD’s legality depends on whether it is derived from hemp or marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD is legal on the federal level, while marijuana-derived CBD remains federally illegal due to its higher THC content.

The FDA plays a significant role in regulating CBD products. Besides maintaining the prohibition of adding CBD to food and supplements, the FDA has the authority to regulate cannabis-derived substances under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

CBD as a Controlled Substance

Although hemp-derived CBD is federally legal, it is still subject to regulation. The FDA has approved a CBD-based prescription drug, Epidiolex, for treating certain seizure disorders. As a result, CBD is classified as an active pharmaceutical ingredient, causing limitations to its use in food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics.

State laws also play a part in the legal and regulatory landscape of CBD. Some states permit marijuana and marijuana-derived CBD for medical and recreational purposes, while others maintain the prohibition of marijuana and its derivatives. It is essential to familiarize oneself with the CBD legalization policies according to individual state laws.

In conclusion, CBD’s legal status can vary depending on its source and adherence to federal and state regulations. Knowing these details is crucial for navigating the CBD industry and ensuring compliance with relevant laws.

Health Benefits and Uses of CBD

CBD in Treating Epilepsy

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in cannabis plants that has shown promise for various medical applications. One of the most significant health benefits of CBD is its potential to treat epilepsy. CBD has been proven to be effective in reducing seizures for people with certain types of drug-resistant epilepsy, specifically Dravet Syndrome. Epidiolex, a prescription CBD solution, is the first FDA-approved drug containing CBD to treat epileptic seizures.

Researchers believe that CBD may help modulate the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in controlling neural activity in the brain. This might explain its ability in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures.

Potential for Anxiety, Pain, and Beyond

Apart from epilepsy, CBD has been studied for its potential uses in treating other conditions, such as anxiety disorders, chronic pain, and inflammation. Many people are turning to CBD as a natural alternative to prescription medications and other treatments. For example, studies have found that CBD can be effective in reducing anxiety-related symptoms in people with social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Additionally, CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which may be beneficial in treating various types of pain. Some research suggests that CBD can help manage chronic pain, arthritis pain, and nerve pain, among others, by interacting with pain receptors in the body.

It’s important to note that while CBD’s potential health benefits are promising, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and mechanisms. Moreover, CBD use carries some risks and potential side effects, so it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any CBD-based treatment.

Safety Profile and Side Effects

Known Side Effects of CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is generally considered safe for usage. However, it does have some potential side effects 1. Common CBD side effects include:

  • Sleepiness and drowsiness: CBD may cause a feeling of sleepiness or drowsiness in some users2.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea has been reported as a side effect of CBD intake3.
  • Changes in appetite: Some people may experience decreased appetite while using CBD4.
  • Liver injury: Although rare, liver injury has been reported in association with CBD use5.
  • Irritability and mood changes: Some users may experience irritability and mood changes as a result of taking CBD6.
  • Interactions with medications: CBD can affect the way other medications work, which could lead to increased side effects7.

It is important to note that not all individuals will experience these side effects, and the severity of these side effects may vary.

Considerations for Special Populations

Certain populations may experience heightened risks or require extra caution when using CBD.

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: There is limited research on the safety and potential side effects of CBD use among pregnant or breastfeeding women. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before using CBD during pregnancy or breastfeeding8.
  • Individuals with liver disease: Given the potential for liver injury, individuals with liver disease should use CBD with caution and under the supervision of a healthcare provider9.
  • Male fertility: Although more research is needed, some studies have suggested that CBD may impact male fertility10. Men who are trying to conceive should discuss CBD use with a healthcare professional.

In summary, CBD is considered relatively safe but does come with potential side effects and risks. Users should consult with a healthcare professional before using CBD, particularly if they belong to a special population or are taking other medications.

Forms and Application of CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound found in cannabis plants, widely known for its potential therapeutic benefits. The market offers a variety of CBD products, and there are several ways to administer them. This section will discuss the most common forms of CBD and their methods of application.

Variety of CBD Products

There is a wide range of CBD products available, catering to different preferences and needs. Some of the most popular products include:

  • Oils and tinctures – These liquid forms of CBD can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) or added to food and beverages. They are favored for their versatility and concentrated nature.
  • Capsules and pills – Oral administration of CBD through capsules or pills is a discreet and convenient option, making consistent dosing easier.
  • Vaping – Inhaling CBD through a vaporizer allows for rapid absorption into the bloodstream, making it suitable for those seeking immediate relief.
  • Foods and beverages – CBD-infused edibles like gummies, chocolates, and drinks are popular for their accessibility and ease of consumption.
  • Cosmetics and topicals – CBD-infused lotions, balms, and creams can be applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain or inflammation.

Methods of CBD Administration

The methods of CBD administration can be tailored to individual needs and preferences, depending on the desired effects and convenience factors. The most widely used methods are:

  • Oral – Capsules, pills, and edibles are swallowed and processed through the digestive system, resulting in a slower onset of effects but a more extended period of relief.
  • Sublingual – Oils and tinctures can be absorbed under the tongue, providing a faster absorption rate than the oral method and more prolonged relief than inhalation.
  • Vaping and inhalation – Vaporizing and inhaling CBD offers the quickest absorption rates, with relief usually felt within minutes, although the effects typically last for a shorter duration than other methods.
  • Topical application – Applying CBD directly to the skin targets localized pain or inflammation without entering the bloodstream, making it suitable for specific concerns like joint pain or skin conditions.

In conclusion, CBD products come in various forms, and there are several methods of administration to suit individual preferences and needs. Exploring the different options can help users find the most suitable approach to maximize the potential benefits of CBD in their lives.


  1. Mayo Clinic: CBD: Safe and effective? 2
  2. WebMD: Cannabidiol (CBD): Safety and Side Effects 2
  3. CDC: CBD: What You Need to Know
  4. NCBI: An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of …
  5. NCBI: Cannabidiol Adverse Effects and Toxicity
  6. WebMD: Cannabidiol (CBD): Safety and Side Effects
  7. CDC: CBD: What You Need to Know
  8. NCBI: An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of …
  9. NCBI: Cannabidiol Adverse Effects and Toxicity
  10. NCBI: An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of …