History of CBD in the USA: Beginning in the 1940's

by Summer Kucky on November 20, 2020

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Though Cannabidiol (CBD)  was not successfully extracted from the Cannabis Sativa until the 1940s, it has been heard that the use of CBD can be traced as early as 2727 BC in China under the rule of Emperor Sheng Neng. Roger Adams, a Harvard graduate and chemist wasn’t aware that he succeeded in extracting a chemical compound at the time, and it took years before Adams and other scientists realized what he had done and began researching the possible benefits of CBD shortly after.

This exciting discovery led to increased research into cannabinoids, and in 1946, Dr. Walter Loewe and his team began testing CBD on mice and rabbits to observe the effects. These tests proved that CBD didn't cause an altered mental state and it laid the groundwork for how cannabinoid testing should be conducted for years to come.


Hemp for Victory 

After the United States ended the “Hemp for Victory” campaign in the early 1940s, hemp crops and cannabis research in America became essentially non-existent. While the history of CBD in America was at a stand still, CBD continued to make headlines across the world. 

In 1964, Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam and his team not only separated the CBD compound, but they also defined its structure and chemical composition. This discovery prompted more research and studies to be done, starting with the effects of CBD and THC on primates. The results of these tests proved that THC was the intoxicating compound in cannabis, and more importantly, proved that CBD was a non-psychoactive and possessed beneficial properties.

While scientists and researchers in Israel were making significant progress in their studies of CBD, lawmakers in America had other plans for CBD and Hemp. Starting in the 1970s the United States Government worked to classify Hemp derived products as a “Schedule I” substance. This meant that there was reason to believe that these compounds had no potential medicinal benefits and were a high potential for abuse.


CBD In America Today 

In December of 2018, Congress finally passed The Hemp Farming Act. This Act was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, which is officially known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018

This bill removed hemp from the controlled substances list, and as a result removed it from the oversight of the DEA. Any industrial hemp product is now considered legal on a federal level nationwide. This Bill, however, gives individual states legislation when it comes to hemp products, giving the state the ability to outlaw some hemp products if deemed appropriate. We recommend that you know your state’s CBD Laws and regulations before purchasing. 


The Future of CBD 

While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp in the U.S., it also emphasized the power of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate CBD supplements. Since 2015, the agency has sent over 50 warning letters to “bad actors” in the CBD industry, particularly to those who claim their supplements can cure serious diseases.

However, the FDA still hasn’t issued policies explaining the best practices for CBD producers. With so many people using CBD and the CBD industry reaching $1 billion in sales, it’s likely that the FDA will eventually create regulations for selling safe and regulated CBD supplements.
Many organizations and countless individual hemp advocates want everyone to have access to hemp and all the beneficial compounds in it. It’s looking more and more likely that they’ll succeed.


Bridgeman, M. B., & Abazia, D. T. (2017). Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 42(3), 180–188.

Laura Pyne, L. (2020, March 09). History of CBD - A Timeline of CBD from First Recorded Case to Now. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from


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