The market is rife with misinformation even when CBD is sold as a relatively simple oil or supplement. When it’s squirted into a latte or baked into a cookie, CBD’s uses and effects get even more opaque. The chemical’s loudest advocates make health claims far beyond the current scientific evidence, and its harshest critics often dismiss the compound entirely as just another snake oil in America’s long tradition of health scams. Journalists are starting to get a handle on what CBD actually does and what is actually known about it, but along with researchers and regulators, we’re still playing catch-up when it comes to the people who have pushed the compound into what feels like mainstream overnight success: entrepreneurs.
Cannabinoids are divided into three groups. The first are naturally occurring 21-carbon terpenophenolic compounds found to date solely in plants of the Cannabis genus, currently termed phytocannabinoids (Pate 1994). The best known analgesic of these is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (henceforth, THC)(Figure 1), first isolated and synthesized in 1964 (Gaoni and Mechoulam 1964). In plant preparations and whole extracts, its activity is complemented by other “minor” phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) (Figure 1), cannabis terpenoids and flavonoids, as will be discussed subsequently.