If you live in a state like Vermont, chances are people can't stop talking about "CBD-this" and "infused-that." Coffee shops, bakeries, and chocolatiers are some of the many groups who have hopped on the reefer-madness bandwagon Granted, this relatively new development in the realm of food science deserves some debunking. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) extraction technology emerged in the 1940s and was tested into the 1960s. Originally, not much was known about the cannabis sativa plant, except of course that you could smoke it and ~feel~ its psychoactive effects. This sensation was not because of the Cannabidiol compounds, but rather another cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In fact, the cannabis plant produces around one-hundred different cannabinoid compounds, many of which work synergistically with one another in the plant. The woody material of the plant itself, called hemp, can be used as an alternative for plastic packaging, plastics, and even home insulation. Agricultural science has allowed for the selective breeding of the cannabis plant based THC/CBD concentration or hemp potential. 

According to the Atlantic, industry experts expect that the CBD market will be valued at around $22B by 2022. A large portion of this market is expected to come from food; consumers are more likely to purchase supplements and CBD tonics and opt for a low-stakes shot of CBD in their latte instead. A Gallup poll has suggested that the population most likely to use CBD products include millennials and GenZ, but many older generations have turned to CBD as a pain-relieving alternative to conventional pharmaceuticals. 

So is CBD... legal? 

It's complicated. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp faming is legal: provided that the plants have a THC concentration of below 0.3%. 

CBD, however, is a little bit of a different story. Food, drinks, capsules, oils, or other forms of ingestible CBD is currently federally illegal to sell under current FDA regulations. The only potential they have to become "legal" is if the FDA adds CBD to its list of products "generally recognized as safe." In individual states, such as Colorado and California, CBD products are legal. 

So if CBD is federally illegal, why are people still continuing to sell it? In short, the benefits of selling CBD-infused products is more advantageous than letting their competition capture the market instead. Because CBD doesn't have legal backing, companies can decide if they want to market the dosage and source of their products. This opens up the floodgates for CBD-fraud. A University of Pennsylvania study suggested that nearly 70% of CBD products are mislabeled; they either contain no CBD or amounts higher than what's listed on the label. 

The Potential Health Benefits of CBD

Proponents of CBD claim that it increases mental acuity, decreases anxiety, provides relief for inflammation and discomfort, can help overcome other forms of addiction (e.g., alcoholism), improves sleep, and can prevent degenerative diseases like Atlzhemiers and even some forms of cancer.

The point at which CBD yields positive health impacts is not exactly clear, mostly because doses under 100mg haven't been tested widely yet. Like other chemicals, the dose-response relationship varies with age, weight, and sex. 

Is CBD safe? 

If you ask the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA), you will get a resounding "no." There is only one FDA-approved CBD product: a prescription-only medication for two rare forms of epilepsy. There is currently no data that exists to highlight the long-term health consequences of CBD, so health experts can't definitively say if there are no adverse impacts of CBD consumption. 

Limits to Growth

According to this article by Forbes Magazine, the growth of the CBD-infused food and beverages depends on three important factors: FDA regulations, state and local action, and potential lawsuits regarding consumer protection clauses. It is currently illegal to market CBD-infused products as a dietary supplement, so retailers are trying to find a way to market their products in a way that both encourages the industry to grow without making false promises to consumers about CBD's potential benefits. As more testing and long-term health studies are performed, we can expect to see a change in the regulatory logistics of such products. 

Want to jump on the CBD bandwagon? Here are some products to try! 

Great news for all you avocado toast lovers: CBD has the greatest effect when consumed with fatty foods like nuts, trail mix, guacamole, or yogurt. You should also consider products that offer "full-spectrum" cannibidols (except for psychoactive THC); these products contain terpenes found in the cannabis plant that work synergistically with CBD. Products can also be tested by independent labs to ensure that the level of CBD on the label matches what's in the package. 

One product you might want to consider trying are WISE bars. They contain 25mg of CBD each and come in delicious, superfood-packed flavors like Apple Pie, Tropical Blastoff, Mexican Chocolate, Peanut Butter Jam, and Lemon Cashew Ginger. Their ingredients are simple: nuts, oats, dried fruit, dates, and premium grade hemp oil. WISE is also a super sustainable company; all of their products are shipped in compostable packaging and their CBD is extracted without ethanol, butane, or carbon dioxide. 

If you're in the mood for something sweet, nothing hits the spot better than chocolate. Therapeutic Treats offers CBD bars for sale online. Their extra-stregnth chocolate bars contain 120mg of CBD per bar while their normal-stregnth bars contain 60mg per bar. Their chocolate bars come in more than just "dark" and "milk" chocolate, but rather a whole line of funky flavors like pumpkin spice & salted caramel, pomegranate & vanilla bean, cherry almond dark chocolate, and peach hazelnut. 

What about CBD ice cream? Ben & Jerry's says they're more than open to the idea, but require federal legalization before they move forward (and so you can become a little more than just "half-baked"). Experts seem to think the brand will release CBD-infused treats within the next few years. 

CBD soda and seltzer is also becoming more popular. Queen City Hemp offers 5mg servings of CBD seltzer in flavors like guava and passion fruit. If you want something a little stronger, Bimble offers 25mg cans of seltzer on their website.