I’m not much into drugs. The only one I take on a regular basis is finasteride, otherwise known as Propecia, otherwise known as the reason my hair has been likened to, “Jared Leto, 65 years from now.” Even when I’m sick, the only cold medicine I take is Sudafed, and that’s mainly for the thrill of signing it out at the pharmacy. It’s not every day that you get to conduct a transaction where part of the assumption is that you might make meth. Buying Sudafed makes me feel dangerous. But then I take it and run through the house singing, “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so … scared!”
Nevertheless, I like to keep an open mind about things that would open my mind, so I decided to do a hard-hitting journalistic investigation into CBD oil. By which I mean, take some CBD oil and then sit on my couch trying to figure out if CBD oil does anything. Because there seems to be two distinct camps on this subject: Either this stuff is a miracle panacea for all that ails you or it’s a big bottle of nothing.
The abbreviation CBD stands for “cannabidiol” and it’s a non-psychoactive part of cannabis. Side effects can include drowsiness and diarrhea, which seems like a dangerous combination: “I’m (yawn) just gonna take a nap—oh no!” This year the FDA approved a CBD drug to treat epilepsy, but other benefits can include, well, just about everything you can think of: pain relief, anxiety reduction, getting rid of zits. I didn’t see constipation anywhere on the lists of CBD treatments, but given the side effects I’d have to assume it could work for that, too.
To procure my CBD I went to a shop-slash-dispensary that apparently doesn’t need any kind of special license, for reasons involving hemp and the 2014 Farm Bill. This place was run by a doctor whose goals seemed both noble and self-serving. One, he wanted to get pain patients off prescription opioids. Two, he wanted to sell a s—t-ton of CBD oil, much of which he was making himself in a lab. According to his explanation of his products, hemp-based CBD oil can legally contain 0.3 percent THC, which is the chemical compound in weed that makes you want to camp out in a field and listen to a 28-minute Trey Anastasio acoustic jam. It’s also the stuff that will make you fail a drug test, if that’s the kind of thing you’re worried about. But he assured me that CBD will only cause a false positive on the first test you’d take, while a more detailed follow-up would test negative. I listened to all of this while projecting what I hoped was the thoughtful and concerned expression of someone whose job is important enough to warrant drug-testing.
Then he explained how THC isn’t the main attraction in CBD oil because there are so many other compounds in there that are beneficial in ways we haven’t even begun to appreciate. In fact, some of his CBD oils didn’t have THC at all! I nodded and pretended to consider buying the oil without THC. Then I went to the counter and bought the one with maximum THC. I’m no math genius, but I think this guy said regular weed has at least two percent THC. So, if this oil has 0.3 percent and you took six doses—but that’s not the point. Of course not. I appreciate the holistic healing properties of all the cannabinoid compounds, not just the naughty awesome one.
CBD oil in hand, I went home, drew an eyedropper full of oil and put it under my tongue, as directed. Then I did another one and maybe one more just to be on the safe side. Then I waited for whatever bliss would come. Would I be sharper, more motivated and creative? Would my sore hammy loosen up while my zits melt away? I admit I had lofty expectations for my CBD experience. I sort of expected a Zen invincibility to wash over my body en route to Limitless-like mental powers. Maybe I’d be able to remember people’s names, for a change. If CBD could help with that, I’d definitely have to go back and thank Doctor Whatshisface.
What actually happened is that I just felt kind of mellow. And that’s if I really talked myself into it. The CBD effect has been described as a “body high,” and I guess that term might apply. I felt relaxed. But I feel relaxed every night when I sit on the couch. I guess I should’ve attempted an activity where I wouldn’t normally feel chilled out. Like, boy, this CBD really took the edge off my vasectomy! Or maybe not. I don’t want to be the guy who dismisses a useful treatment, but I also don’t want to be the guy who smokes a bowl of oregano and then walks around declaring how baked I am.
And right now, I’m not really sure where CBD lands on that spectrum. Is it salvation or snake oil? I honestly don’t know. But I think I’d better try it nine or 10 more times. Just until I make up my mind. ◆