On a sunny but unseasonably freezing April afternoon in New York, I walked the 10 or so minutes from the L train to Caffeine Underground, a coffee shop in Bushwick that triples as an art gallery and community center. The open-concept space serves lattes and espressos and a variety of milks (oat, almond, macadamia) and plenty of “wellness” options (Kava tea, Bulletproof-style coffee, activated charcoal add-ins). But there’s one totally unique item: Cannabidiol-infused (CBD) coffee.
Given the degree to which marijuana and cannabinoid derivative use has been stigmatized in the past, their Schedule I classification as illegal substances, and lack of FDA approval, valid medical research on the effects of CBD isn’t as plentiful as it should be. Much of the anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that CBD’s neuro- protective, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects with regard to topical applications are promising.2
While CBD oil, a non-psychedelic extract of industrial hemp, seems to offer healing benefits when ingested almost any way, for some types of chronic pain, skin conditions, and other localized problems, topical applications allow users to go right to the source. Topical CBD can also work faster, since it doesn’t have to travel through the digestive system first.
"Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia.
Remember: Do not ingest CBD topicals. They should be used externally only. If your skin symptoms have appeared suddenly or if they are very strong and painful, you should first consult your physician before using any supplements or salves. Don't use salves on open, bleeding wounds. Also, do not apply CBD topicals if you are pregnant, lactating, or suffering from a serious illness.
In the United States, non-FDA approved CBD products are classified as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that production, distribution, and possession of non-FDA approved CBD products is illegal under federal law. In addition, in 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration added "marijuana extracts" to the list of Schedule I drugs, which it defined as "an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant." Previously, CBD had simply been considered "marijuana", which is a Schedule I drug.
Cannabidiol is currently a class B1 controlled drug in New Zealand under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It is also a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act. In 2017 the rules were changed so that anyone wanting to use it could go to the Health Ministry for approval. Prior to this, the only way to obtain a prescription was to seek the personal approval of the Minister of Health.