Everything I learned about CBD while working in the cannabis industry
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
Cannabis can be a tool for alleviating chronic pain and mental health symptoms. I worked at a cannabis dispensary pre-legalization where the products sold were not certified or packaged by the government. Meanwhile, the second dispensary I worked at in 2019—the winter after legalization—sold legal cannabis secured in child-lock containers with labels that informed consumers about the product with info like the percentage of THC and CBD, and the primary active ingredients of a cannabis plant.
Cannabis became legalized for adults over the age of 19 in BC on October 17, 2018. This decision reduced the stigma around the once-vilified plant medicine. Now people who once shunned cannabis were entering dispensaries to ask how cannabis could alleviate their headaches, lower-back pain, and anxiety. As a salesperson, it was my job to lead them in the right direction. I first inquired how they wanted to ingest. The options varied from dried flowers to edibles, vape cartridges, and my personal favourite topicals: creams and salves.
My knowledge of cannabis previous to working in the industry was that when consumed, the plant created a psychoactive response in the brain and makes you ravenous for food (specifically junk food). As I entered my first shop, I browsed the glass shelves. To my surprise, there was a wide variety of products outside of dried cannabis, many of which were CBD-dominant. As the year went on, I got well-acquainted with cannabidiol, aka CBD, the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant. CBD has become increasingly popular for its therapeutic properties it offers people of all ages.
CBD products provide many benefits that scientists are still learning about. For example, the plant has proven to relieve the symptoms of PTSD by impacting the amygdala: the part of the brain responsible for processing memory and emotional responses. CBD also reduces anxiety in both people and pets. The shop I worked at sold CBD in bacon or seafood flavour for both cats and dogs. CBD even relieves gastrointestinal symptoms caused by irritable bowel syndrome and has been shown to reduce seizures caused by epilepsy.
A common concern customers inquire about when trying out CBD is whether or not this product will get them high. For many, it is because their goal is to find a replacement product for Advil. Thankfully, CBD does not get you high because it impacts the body more than the brain. The following question is what dosage to administer. Of course, the amount depends on the method they are using. Unlike THC, excessive CBD consumption does not cause hallucinations, dizziness, and nausea. However, CBD may make you drowsy in large quantities, which is why it is not recommended to operate heavy machinery or drive after consumption.
I advise first-time users to try out capsules to reduce the financial commitment if it doesn’t work out. The more affordable option for long-term usage is a tincture. My favourite tincture is sold by wellness company Miss Envy Botanicals and uses organic MCT as a carrier oil. The product is absorbed quickly, which is beneficial for panic attacks as the relief is instantaneous. There are several factors in how fast CBD is metabolized by the body, such as weight. When I worked at a cannabis store and first-time users came in to ask for recommendations, I encouraged them to embrace a trial-and-error approach of different doses to see what works best for their condition and desired results.
While working in the cannabis industry, I also learned that mixing CBD and THC can yield the most effective results in many cases. But that all depends on a person’s comfort levels. The scare tactics from the war on drugs has resulted in many people still holding a negative perception of THC. Meanwhile, CBD has become popular among wellness communities and people who want relief but not another daily prescription. CBD is so mainstream that you can even find CBD at some local corner stores.
Many new companies have appeared, trying to profit from the newfound glory; I recently came across a CBD lavender-infused face mask that reduces aging—and other companies are selling CBD-infused lube. Research in CBD has only just begun, but as scientists and doctors learn more about CBD, it’s a surprise that such a safe and beneficial substance was once illegal in Canada. It is estimated that the industry will be worth $20 billion in less than half a decade.