I was thrilled: this weekend, my bottle of CBD vape liquid arrived in the mail: 500mg of CBD vape juice in Blue Raspberry flavor. Before that, I’d been back and forth between gummis (not my thing), or disposable vape pens I bought from my local vape shop — which isn’t really where you want to find yourself in the middle of a goddamn pandemic. Since I’ve been stuck in isolation, my CBD pens are saving my mental health, and those disposable pens were getting pricey. CBD calms my nerves, and my nerves definitely need calming; I have, among other things, a severe anxiety disorder, and my mental health doesn’t play well with the concept of a global pandemic.
It works like this: I start to get a little worried. I displace my anxiety. I’m really freaking out because it’s the end of the world as we know it and I most emphatically do not feel fine, but I think I’m losing my mind over a stupid email. So I pick up my pen and take a few hits. About three minutes later, as long as it’s not a massive freak-out, I’m okay again.
I’ve found that, even better, I can use CBD as a preventative measure. So rather than wait to freak out, I just hit my vape pen at odd intervals, and it seems to stave off the panic and keeps me more even-keeled. I’m hitting it as I write. The CBD helps me to be sane, grounded, and pleasant, rather than a roiling ball of anxiety and misery.
No, It’s Not a Marijuana Derivative — Not Really?
The Harvard Health blog says that CBD, or cannabidiol, is “the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis.” Sound confusing? Marijuana is a kind of cannabis plant that’s bred to have high concentrations of THC, the psychoactive ingredient that makes you high, the London Botantists explain. CBD comes from the close cousin of marijuana: another kind of cannabis plant, hemp.
So basically, CBD is in all cannabis plants. You can get it from both hemp and marijuana. Project CBD explains that the 2018 Farm Bill made the growth of hemp with a less than 0.3% THC content legal. So while you can extract CBD from pot, CBD is not psychoactive. I’m not typing stoned, nor do I walk around the house in a perpetual pot-induced haze.
Because it won’t give you “reefer madness,” it’s legal to grow, and it has varying legality throughout the country. It happens to be legal in both my state and municipality (CBD is only fully illegal in Iowa, Idaho, and South Dakota), so I gave it a try. When it worked at calming me down quickly, I started using it — first as a kind of rescue remedy, then regularly. And as Project CBD assures those of you out there who still think I’m succumbing to something dangerously habit-forming, CBD is non-addictive — and Addiction Resource agrees.
I’m Not Alone Here
According to Quartz, 85% of Americans have heard of CBD, and one in five of those people have tried it. Most of those who have tried it have used it for the same reason I do: relaxation (55%), stress and anxiety relief (50%), and better sleep (45%). Unfortunately, Quartz says, because of the complications of various studies, it’s not clear whether or not it’s effective (though I think it is). There’s a little bit of evidence it works on anxiety in humans, but more testing is needed. Hello, pharmaceutical companies! I volunteer as tribute.
It seems that CBD helps to reduce “stress, anxiety, and pain,” says Quartz; therefore, it could help you relax. It definitely helps me relax. And another 55% of people who use it seem to agree.
How CBD Works
You’ve got this thing in your body called the endocannabinoid system. According to UCLA Health, its main function is to “maintain homeostasis.” It’s present in all vertebrates, and looks to have evolved over 500 million years ago. Endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout your body — from your skin to your organs to your fat to your muscles — and the endocannabinoid system is involved in “pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, and reproductive function.”
We make little endocannabinoids in our body. When we imbibe CDB, scientists hypothesize, the cannabinoids stimulates the same receptors. There’s some evidence, UCLA Health says, based on animal and limited human trials, that they can have “antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, anti-tumor, anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and sleep modulating effects.”
This is why I’m hitting a vape pen like a shady teenager. And this is why it’s actually calming my anxiety-prone ass in the middle of a global pandemic, when the world’s tumbling down over my head and I don’t even know if we’ll manage trick-or-treating this year.
This Is Me on CBD
I have a cute little blue vape pen. I hit it at random intervals throughout the day, or when I feel anxiety brewing. In a few minutes, it’s faded into the background, and I can function (mostly) normally. Because it’s blue raspberry flavored, the smoke tastes good; it doesn’t leave me with bad breath (as long as I keep drinking water). I don’t blow vape smoke in my kids’ faces. But I don’t freak out about second-hand smoke the way I would if I were smoking cigarettes, and I certainly don’t worry about third-hand smoke. I do mostly confine my vaping to the outside or the bedroom.
It’s not going to get you stoned. It’s also not going to replace your hardcore anti-anxiety meds (believe me, I still take all of mine). But it stops me from taking that emergency klonopin dose mid-afternoon that I’m allowed. CBD has simply become another part of my pharmaceutical regime. It works well. It helps me. It gets me through.
And during this time in world history, if it gets us through, that’s all that matters.