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CBD (Cannabidiol): Cannabinoid Guide

Cannabidiol (CBD) Header

This post is part of a series on cannabis compounds. For more information and a listing of all other cannabinoids, see our Cannabis Compounds overview.

When it comes to the cannabis industry, there is no doubt that Cannabidiol, commonly known simply as CBD, is quickly becoming the shining star. Unlike THC, this compound is non-psychoactive meaning it does not produce the 'high' associated with marijuana use.

This rise in popularity of cannabidiol is thanks in part to a 2013 CNN documentary entitled 'Weed'. In the film, Dr. Sanjay Gupta helps tell the story of Charlotte Figi, a 3-year-old girl who utilized this powerful substance. This film brought millions to tears as it showcased the power of hemp-derived CBD oil.

This documentary helped provide contrast between recreational and medicinal cannabis while bringing CBD to light. A swell of public support followed including many positive state and federal hemp laws. As the industry progresses, the long-restricted hemp plant is slowly being lifted out of prohibition as the CBD-rich plant extract is supported by a growing body of research pointing to significant therapeutic benefits.

CBD Molecule Diagram

Activity: Non-psychoactive
Formula: C21H30O2 
Molecular Mass: 314.2246 g/mol 
Melting Point: 80 °C (176 °F) 
Boiling Point: 180 °C (356 °F) 

Synthesis of CBD

Like many other primary cannabinoids found in cannabis, including both marijuana and hemp, CBD begins its lifecycle as CBGA. This acid-form phytocannabinoid naturally occurs in cannabis. As the plant matures, CBGA is synthesized into CBDA. This 'raw' cannabinoid is the direct precursor to CBD. When exposed to heat via a process called decarboxylation, CBDA loses a carbon atom and is synthesized into CBD.

Shifting from natural biosynthesis to 'synthetic' laboratory synthesis, a 2002 patent presented methods of converting CBD to Δ 8-THC or Δ9-THC.

Where Can You Find CBD?

This cannabinoid's non-psychoactive profile and legal means of cultivation via industrial hemp make it widely available. CBD products extracted from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC are widely available online for sale and can be shipped across the USA without issue. These products have also found their way into local stores, though state-level acceptance varies.

As a consumer, you'll find a wide range of options ranging from single-molecule-CBD isolate to full-spectrum whole plant oil extract to hemp flower. The market continues to grow as new and established brands bring unique products to the market.

In addition to hemp-derived products, the medical marijuana industry has widened its focus to include significant levels of CBD in many strains. Some strains even offer ratios as high as 30:1 (CBD to THC). The result is that today CBD is widely available across the USA and throughout many parts of the world.

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