CBD, the legal version of cannabis to calm anxiety
CBD - say what?
CBD is both a victim of the hype around claims of its numerous virtues (such as curing or protecting from cancers, which is still far from being proven) as well as a bad reputation — that of having harmful effects, which in fact, according to our current understanding, only apply to the cannabis used for smoking big joints.
Its consumption (human and animal!) is nonetheless perfectly legal around the world. CBD (cannabidiol is its full name) is in fact not a different form of cannabis... but a molecule, exactly like THC (delta-9-tétrahydrocannabinol, or in other words, the molecule that causes the high from a smoke), that is found naturally in the cannabis plant, also called hemp -- the name cannabis in fact comes from its Latin name. We are all so well-informed it’s impressive.
TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read) :
- CBD is harmless and legal
- THC makes you high, there’s a risk of addiction and it’s illegal in most European countries and many states of the USA
- Both are naturally present in cannabis
Here is a website on which you will find an excellent explanation detailing the difference between THC and CBD. I am saving you from the long and frustrating research I have been through for you (which I did with upmost enthusiasm and good will, of course).
For which ailments do we use CBD ?
The CBD molecule was discovered in the 1960s, and ever since, we keep adding to the long list of its virtues and uses: against epilepsy, it promotes attention, calms obsessive whirlwind thinking, improves sleep, calms anxiety and other stressors (major or minor), is used against depression, for reducing pain, namely from inflammation such as arthritis, protecting from cancer, calming psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia... and even cannabis addiction!
I cannot promise that all of these effects are either true or scientifically proven -- they are not. Studies on the matter are limited, essentially because the research on the therapeutic use of cannabis is often against the law (France has just authorised it), because of the negative effects of THC and its illegal drug status. We don’t know exactly how CBD works, BUT we do know that it does work for many people where the typical therapeutic alternatives have fallen short. That, for me, is enough to warrant a try, provided that it’s legal.
I will now leave you in the hands of Yannic, who shares his experience:
I suffer from arthritis, ostheoarthritis and rhumatisms since a nasty fall in 2000. Slowly but surely, I developed depression on top of the physical pain, as is often the case. And with the depression, terrible, debilitating social anxiety.
Treated by a GP and a psychiatrist, I started piling up the medications. Opioids for the pain, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs respectively for the depression and anxiety.
I was sent pretty much everywhere to treat my pain, to no avail. The centres for pain treatment that I visited failed to produce concrete results. Only reiki and yoga helped me hang on.
When I realized that my doctor had prescribed me a pain-relief medication containing methadone, I decided I had had enough. I started a methadone detox. At the same time, I tried to find other solutions for the pain. Hypnotherapy, physical therapy, and, in the end, I heard about CBD. I had tried cannabis a few times before, but the psychoactive effects of it made this an impractical solution. It was only possible if I had nothing else to do, be that at work or at home. Impossible, for example, to drive. But it seemed to reduce the pain, so I thought CBD seemed like a good option to explore.
I first tested it in liquid form for electronic cigarettes, but the results weren’t great. Extra research led me to find a « healthy » way to consume CBD flowers; because I had stopped smoking two years previously, using CBD flowers to smoke was not possible for me. I then discovered plant vaporizers that can be used with cannabis, as well as any other plant. So I took a base model vaporizer and a few grams of CBD flowers to try it.
The experience was strange to start with. At first, it just feels like swallowing warm air. Then, when you put the vaporizer down, you realize that the pain has considerably decreased, without you even noticing. And I also realized that the days that I took CBD, I no longer had to take either pain nor anxiety medication. No need.
It took about ten days to wean myself off the methadone painkiller, but only a day or two for the anti-anxiety medication. It has now been six months that I no longer take pain meds (I only take paracetamol in case of a flare-up), and I haven’t opened my jar of anti-anxiety pills. Before, I used to get through at least a jar per month. And a 60ml jar of pain relief meds.
The major drawback of CBD is its price. I take about two « doses » per day, which adds up to about 10 grams per month. So about 150€. The pain relief and anti-anxiety medication were considerably cheaper, because they were refunded. But I don’t regret my choice, and I will continue as long as I have the means.
The second negative with CBD is that it looks like cannabis, and smells like it too. It’s best not to get oneself stopped and searched carrying a stash, or even with a vaporizer.
I haven’t, however, found any advice against it. I can drive, study (I’m not working at the moment), I look after two donkeys, do photography, join in at dinner parties (which had been impossible for me for some years), I have started cooking… And there is no dependency.
Personally, I first went to actual shops in Belgium to try it out. Since then, I’ve ordered online.
In what forms can one consume CBD?
The best form for you to consume your CBD depends on the desired effect: you can find CBD in the form of capsules to swallow, drops to put under your tongue or in a drink (nonalcoholic, of course), paste that can be eaten in one form or another (sweets, cookies), creams or gels to massage into the skin, or even e-liquid that can be smoked in an e-cigarette (remember you must be 18 or over to vape legally in France).
The capsules and drops are often recommended for sleep and anxiety, massaging creams for pain, vaping or drops for a quicker effect (in case of an anxiety attack for example). It also depends on what form might be the most practical for you in the moment: remember that many public places do not allow vaping indoors, and that CBD paste has the same taste as cannabis with THC.
In terms of dosages, they vary a lot and it’s best to refer to the indications on the products themselves.
Finally, I must reiterate that the consumption of cannabis flowers or leaves, be that directly or from a product made from the leaves or flowers, is completely illegal in France: only grains of fibres from the plant may be used, and only from certain strains authorised by French law.
If ever you experience negative effects, you should immediately stop your consumption of CBD derived products. Equally, if you take medication (antidepressants, antianxiety medication...) and you are treated by a doctor or psychiatrist, talk to them about your consumption of CBD products: it’s important that they have all the information to best help you.
Where to get CBD legally ?
I would firstly recommend a site that respects the current legislation in France, namely that the THC content in the final product must be zero, and must come from a plant specified as containing less than 0.2% THC. The CBD content itself isn’t regulated since it’s considered harmless.
You should, of course, pay attention to the websites on which you buy your CBD products: the legislation is not the same throughout Europe, and in Switzerland for example, it is perfectly legal to have a THC content above zero in the finished product (although it must be below 0.2%).
I must also remind you that these are not medications but products considered as nutritional supplements: they are not available in pharmacies (although I’m sure that will come someday, you could always ask) but rather in specialised shops. Above all, it will not be refunded by the social security (French healthcare system) or your private medical insurance if you have one.
You can get drops, capsules, massage creams and animal croquettes on on Nordic Oil, while respecting your European country's laws, provided that you select the right .com, .fr, etc., all listed in the footer of the website.
There are others that deliver to France, but be careful! They also sell flowers or products based on cannabis leaves which are illegal in France! Certain products don't give you precise information about their THC content, either, which isn't ideal... It's up to you to be careful. Here they are (French websites) anyway:
To find out more
- A journalist's account of trying CBD in various forms
- An interactive map developped by Americans for Safe Access that details, State by State, the authorizations concerning cannabis-based products in the USA
- Here's what you need to know about buying CBD products legally in Canada
- The current legislation in France, by MILDECA (Mission Interministérielle de Lutte contre les Drogues et les Conduites Addictives), in French
- A news article on the enforcement of the current legislation in France, in French
- A news article on research and current legislation in Switzerland, in French