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What is CBD oil? Does it work?

CBD oil comes from the marijuana plant. But how does it work, and is it even legal? Here's what we found out.

You’ve likely heard someone you know raving about the effects of CBD oil. We set out to learn more about the derivative of the marijuana plant and were surprised to find out just how many people use it for a variety of reasons. To start you off, it is legal. But does it work, and do you know what you’re buying? Those are good questions.

We interviewed two people that have used CBD for pain and anxiety. They had very different results. We’ll get to that in a moment. First, what exactly is CBD?

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Yes, it comes from the marijuana plant. No, it won’t get you high. CBD or cannabidiol is extracted from hemp but doesn’t contain THC. THC, of course, is the psychoactive compound in marijuana. It’s the part of weed that gets you high. Because there is no THC, that makes it legal, in all 50 states. Research is showing promise in a wide range of conditions from arthritis to PTSD, to epilepsy and even alcoholism. You can smoke it, eat it, rub it on as a lotion, whatever works for you. But, that’s where this gets tricky. Will it work for you? Our two interviews had different outcomes.

Peter Campbell runs an awesome pizza joint in Minneapolis called Red Wagon. He also has a disease called ankylosing spondylitis, a painful deformation of his spine. He’s tried everything for the pain.

Opioids worked, but he doesn’t want to use them, so he tried CBD, in every form he could find.

"I think the level of pain that I was going through wasn't as successful and different varieties had different effectiveness,” Campbell said.

Amanda Swanson had a different outcome. She started using CBD to help with anxiety.

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“I don't know how to turn my brain off at night and really get the sleep I need," she said. "And I found that when I take it before bed and then again in the morning before I go to work it just really helps me feel calm about my day and then I can focus on the tasks at hand rather than my anxiety getting in the way of that."

Why does it work for one and not the other? Well, there’s a lot of reasons for that, but the biggest is that CBD is essentially an unregulated industry. The only requirement is that the formula contain less than .3 percent THC, but there is no requirement of how much CBD must be in the bottle you buy. In other words, you have no idea if you’re buying a bottle of olive oil, because quality is not regulated by the government.

“There's no information out there. It's whatever you can find on the internet and we all you can prove or disprove anything you want with the internet,” Campbell said.

Knowing where to start can be half the battle.

“It's extremely overwhelming. I feel like there are so many product choices that you almost have to narrow it down to a few that feel right to you and then make a gut judgment off it,” Swanson said.

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