theSkimm's Guide to CBD

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April 19, 2019

The Story

You’ve already heard a million weed puns. So we’ll spare you the 4/20 jokes and tell you about something else: CBD.

I’ve seen the letters before, but what exactly is CBD?

Alright, let’s talk a little science…Marijuana and hemp...cannabis plant cousins. Marijuana gets you high. Hemp doesn’t. That’s because marijuana has a lot more…THC...aka tetrahydrocannabinol (please use this term at a party and see how it goes). It’s the naturally occurring compound in cannabis that gets you high.CBD...aka cannabidiol. Also a naturally occurring compound in cannabis. CBD can be extracted from marijuana and hemp. But it doesn’t get you high.

What’s so great about CBD then?

CBD won’t have you reaching for the potato chips to cure your munchies. But it may make you feel relaxed and zen. Think: Matthew McConaughey in “Dazed and Confused,” but more zen than burnout. CBD has helped people with things like anxiety, insomnia, pain management, acne and reducing opioid cravings. Mandy Moore uses it to help make wearing heels less painful, and Olivia Wilde has used it to help with neck pain. Plus it apparently makes for a great baby shower theme.

But why am I hearing so much about CBD recently?

There are a few reasons for that. One: the spread of legalized weed around the US. Because more states are cool with Mary Jane, they may also use it to extract CBD. Two: the rise in alternative therapies. As research on alternative methods to treat certain medical problems increases, many are going with the option that doesn’t require things like medications. Which leads to, three: Americans are increasingly more anxious and stressed, and many are turning to CBD to help. Also, the FDA has sort of jumped on the CBD bandwagon – in 2018, it approved the first cannabis-based drug (which has CBD) to treat severe forms of epilepsy in children.

So if the FDA is cool with it, does that mean it’s legal?

Not necessarily. In 2018, the federal government legalized hemp and CBD that comes from it. But the gov has maintained that weed is illegal...meaning CBD from weed is illegal. The FDA still has the authority to say whether it’s allowed in things like food or drinks. Right now, it says ‘that’s gonna be a no for us, dog,’ but it’s looking into how to regulate it for the future. States have their own laws around weed and CBD – check yours here.

Ok well is it safe?

The World Health Organization says there isn’t any evidence of health-related issues linked to pure CBD. But because there have only been a few trials on humans, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Including its long-term effects or whether you can mix it with some medications. Also, if you’re buying something with CBD in it, it could also have things like THC since the FDA isn’t regulating it. But it is making sure that companies aren’t creating false advertising around CBD. Aka claiming their CBD products cure Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Speaking of, how is that business doing?

Not too bad. Naturally, the biz world went all-in on CBD once it realized it could make a lot of money off these kinds of products. It’s reportedly a $1 billion industry – and may reach $16 billion by 2025. And ever since the gov legalized hemp, farmers have had a field day. Those that grow hemp are reportedly seeing a surge in demand and profits.

K I’m sold. Where can I get this stuff?

Pretty much anywhere. CVS stores in eight states are already selling CBD products (think: lotions and sprays), and Walgreens says it’ll do the same. There are also a ton of online stores that sell these products too. Companies are selling CBD-infused everything. To name a few examples: shampoos, beer, caramels, bath bombs, makeup, face masks, and dog treats. Yes, your dog can get chill AF too. You might also find a bar serving cocktails with CBD.


Millions of Americans use CBD products, and many praise its benefits. While it’s gotten a lot of hype and can have positive effects on some people, there’s still a lot of unknown around it. So make sure you do your research before trying something out.

Editor's Note: This article was updated on January 7, 2020.

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