Last week, hundreds of thousands of curious researchers, consumers, members of the medical community, athletes, and others attended the CBD Summit, held prior to the Natural Products Expo. During this summit, cannabidiol market experts announced their prediction for the hemp-derived CBD industry to grow to $450 million by 2020. Yet, a large percentage of the population still has never heard of CBD or fully understands what CBD is. Below we have addressed ten of the most commonly asked questions about cannabidiol and CBD products.

CBD Information You Need to Know

1) Is Hemp the same as Marijuana?

Hemp and marijuana are two types of cannabis that are genetically distinct and differ in both cultivation, chemical properties, and use. Hemp is grown and cultivated for fiber and seed to produce a variety of products including foods, oils, rope, and fabrics. Marijuana is cultivated to yield high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, concentrated heavily in the flowers and buds. Marijuana is bred to have THC levels that can exceed 20% as opposed to hemp which has less than .3% THC and no psychoactive properties.

2) What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many different compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are unique because they act on cannabinoid receptors that are part of the endocannabinoid system found throughout the body. The second most abundant compound in cannabis, CBD is not intoxicating and has none of the psychoactive properties of marijuana.

3) How is CBD made?

Nearly pure CBD is isolated from the other cannabinoids found in hemp oil. Hemp oil is extracted from the stalks and stems of cannabis using a chemical process and contains the full range of cannabinoids found in the plant. Oil may be obtained using solvents or with a non-toxic and non-flammable CO2 extraction method. Prevalent in the food industry, and “generally regarded as safe” by the FDA, CO2 extraction eliminates the risk of solvent residues in the final product.

4) Will I get High?

CBD does not have any of the psychoactive properties associated with marijuana and will not impair the user or get them “high.” Industrial hemp that has less than 0.3% THC content can yield high-quality CBD that is 99% pure.

5) Is CBD legal?

CBD companies are unable to give legal advice on the legality of CBD. This information is a third party interpretation in an effort to encourage consumers to do their research on the legality of CBD. CBD is legal in 44 states. In 28 states where medical marijuana is legal, CBD products are covered by those same medical marijuana legal protections. In recent years, 16 states have passed CBD-only laws, which legalize the possession and use of CBD products for specific conditions – but not cannabis products containing higher levels of THC. Those CBD-only laws often limit the legal possession and use of CBD products to children with epilepsy, and some nerve and muscle afflictions. Even in those states with CBD legal protections, however, the substance is considered federally illegal by the DEA. Only six states—Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia still consider every part of the cannabis plant, including CBD, to be illegal. The Controlled Substance Act does not contain the terms “Cannabidiol,” “Cannabinoids” or “Hemp.” In order for these terms to be included in the CSA and officially become law, it would take an act of Congress, passed by the House and Senate, and signed by the President. Companies who source domestic hemp products, cultivated in full compliance with the Farm Bill, under appropriate licensing from respective state departments of agriculture in Colorado and Kentucky are covered under this legislation. Furthermore, according to the continuing Appropriations Acts of 2016 and 2017, it is the expressed intent of Congress that hemp cultivated in compliance with the Farm Bill be intended for “transportation, processing, and sale.”

6) Will I pass a drug test?

Many CBD products have no THC in them at all, and all CBD products derived from industrial hemp have less than 0.3% THC. Many factors determine whether a person can pass a drug test, making them unpredictable, but the trace amounts of THC found in CBD products is very minuscule.

7) How is it Taken?

CBD can be taken orally by placing it under the tongue, allowing it to dissolve and be absorbed, or ingested in capsules and edibles. CBD can also be added to ointments and lotions for topical use or inhaled using a vaporizer. The method of ingestion plays a significant role in how quickly CBD enters the system, with vaporizing being quickest and most efficient.

7) What is the difference between Isolate and Full Spectrum?

Products that are Full Spectrum contain CBD as well as other cannabinoids, while CBD Isolate is 99% pure isolated CBD. Cannabinoids affect every individual differently and determining which product is most effective depends on personal needs and preferences.

8) Does CBD produce side effects?

Hemp and CBD are both considered safe and should not produce any adverse side effects in most people. However, everyone processes CBD and other dietary supplements differently, and it is always recommended to consult with a physician before adding any supplement to your diet.

9) Are CBD products safe?

CBD and the processes used by reputable companies enable the manufacture of a variety of safe CBD products. The CBDistillery ensures that its products are of the highest quality by consistently testing and using only non-GMO industrial hemp. All products manufactured by The CBDistillery are from hemp grown outdoors under natural sunlight with pesticide-free organic practices.

10) How much does CBD cost?

Like other diet supplements, the cost of CBD can vary due to a variety of factors including strength and quantity. For more information on CBD product and pricing click HERE.

CBD: One Doctor’s Investigation

Kevin Frey, MD, FACP


Opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not constitute medical advice.

Medical education is inundated with a systematic bias against any medication that is not mass produced in a pharmaceutical laboratory. The mere suggestion that cannabis could harbor any serious therapeutic benefits was the subject of ridicule and scorn during my clinical training.  It was long assumed that anyone taking a cannabis-derived product was likely abusing it someway and somehow.  For the longest time, I used to believe that.

Fast forward nearly a decade and I’ve seen my opinion on the matter completely change.  I now consider myself to be a staunch advocate for patient access to medical cannabis, especially cannabidiol (CBD).  But how could my opinion change so drastically in just a few short years?

I first became interested in CBD after hearing the story of one of my patients.  He was an older man, with a long-standing history of diabetes complicated by peripheral neuropathy, which is a painful condition of the legs and feet.  He started taking CBD as a supplement along with his other morning medications.  After a period of time, he noted a gradual improvement in his sense of overall well-being.

As time went on, I heard additional stories that seemed to suggest CBD was impacting lives in a positive way.  I could no longer ignore the potential therapeutic benefits that these individuals claimed to have experienced. Ultimately, this led me to undertake a thorough investigation of the medical and scientific literature to see if my patient’s experiences could be backed up by research.

What is CBD and How Does it Work?

CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid produced naturally in plants of the Cannabis genus, with the most common being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  CBD is uniquely different from THC, in that it is not psychoactive, meaning that it does not cause its user to feel intoxicated or “high.”  Additionally, according to the World Health Organization, CBD has no potential for abuse or dependence.

In order to understand how CBD works, it’s important to first understand how any pharmaceutical drug operates within the body.  For a medication to be effective, it needs to interact with systems already present within the body.  Think of the medication as kind of a key and the receptor (where the medication acts) as a kind of lock. When the “key” interacts with its “lock”, it could either activate (i.e. epinephrine boosting blood pressure) or inactivate (i.e. ibuprofen reducing inflammation) the body’s normal physiologic response.

However, the exact mechanism of how CBD exerts its effects on the body is far more complicated.  In fact, unlike many compounds, CBD has been shown to influence a multitude of potential receptors in animal models.

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a collection of cell receptors and their corresponding neurotransmitters in the human body.  This system helps to regulate sleep, appetite, mood, motor control, immune function, pleasure, pain, reproduction and fertility, memory and temperature regulation. This system is regulated by specific neurotransmitters, namely anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, that act directly on cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2).  These receptors are primarily found in neuronal synapses (the communication hub where two nerves interact with each other to transmit or modify signals going to or within the brain).

Unlike THC, which has a direct interaction with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD does not seem to have any significant direct interaction with either of these receptors. Rather, the best available evidence suggests that CBD acts as a reuptake inhibitor of the neurotransmitter anandamide. Basically, this just means that there is more anandamide available within a neuronal synapse to interact with receptors in the ECS. The more anandamide within a synapse, the greater its ultimate effect will be.

The Vanilloid Receptor (TRPV1)

Anandamide also directly acts on the TRPV1 or the vanilloid receptor.  This receptor is partly responsible for the transmission of painful stimuli to the brain from a variety of stimuli.  Capsaicin, which is responsible for the “heat” in chili peppers, also activates this receptor.  Capsaicin-based topical medications work by overstimulating this receptor, making it less effective at transmitting the pain signals.  Similarly, increased levels of anandamide within nerve synapses caused by CBD could also theoretically provide analgesia through this same mechanism, but this needs more study.

Serotonin Receptors (5-HT1a)

CBD has been shown to act directly on some serotonin receptors within the nervous system.  Serotonin helps to regulate mood, anxiety, appetite, sexual function, and even social behavior.  Many medications have been developed to influence these receptors.  Buspirone, for example, also directly acts upon the 5-HT1a receptor and is an effective treatment for anxiety.  Whether or not CBD can achieve similar results remains to be seen.


After evaluating the available research on CBD, I see great potential in how CBD could benefit the well-being of individuals.  More research will be required to further quantify the effects of CBD within the human body, how it achieves them, and whether or not these effects are clinically beneficial.

About Dr. Kevin Frey 

Dr. Kevin Frey, MD specializes in Internal Medicine in Canton, Ohio. Dr. Frey received his medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University and completed his residency at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Frey has partnered with The CBDistillery™, where his goal is to focus on educating others on the basic science behind CBD and its potential to improve well-being.

Be on the lookout for monthly blog posts from Dr. Kevin Frey on recent updates and scientific studies pertaining to CBD!

Studies referenced during my investigation.

  1. Iseger TA, Bossong MG (March 2015). “A systematic review of the antipsychotic properties of cannabidiol in humans”. Schizophrenia Research. 162 (1–3): 153–61
  2. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence 39th Meeting in Geneva. Cannabidiol- Pre-Review Report. The World Health Organization. November 2017. Accessed February 19, 2018.
  3. Ibeas et al. “Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):699-730.
  4. Deutsch, DG. “A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs).” Front Pharmacol. 2016; 7:370.
  5. Tominaga M, Caterina MJ, Malmberg AB, Rosen TA, Gilbert H, Skinner K, Raumann BE, Basbaum AI, Julius D. The cloned capsaicin receptor integrates multiple pain-producing stimuli. Neuron. 1998;21:531–543.
  6. Szallasi A, Blumberg PM. Vanilloid (Capsaicin) receptors and mechanisms. Pharmacol Rev. 1999;51:159–212.
  7. Ross, R. “Anandamide and Vanilloid TRPV1 Receptors.” Br J Pharmacol. 2003 Nov;140(5):790-801.
  8. Parks CL, Robinson PS, Sibille E, Shenk T, Toth M (1998). “Increased anxiety of mice lacking the serotonin1A receptor”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 95 (18): 10734–9.
  9. Kennett GA, Dourish CT, Curzon G (1987). “Antidepressant-like action of 5-HT1A agonists and conventional antidepressants in an animal model of depression”. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 134 (3): 265–74.
  10. De Mello Schier, A. Antidepresssant-Like and Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: A Chemical Compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS & Neurolog Disorders – Drug Targets. 2014;13(6).
  11. Prud’homme M, Cata R, Jutras-Aswad D. Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment. 2015;9:33-38
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