Is CBD legal in NZ?

CBD and some of its known positive effects

There is surely no other plant that has been associated with as many medicinal properties as cannabis, with over 104 compounds that make up its medicinal profile. Among these, cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the two most important compounds -- the other being Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of the drug. Although both are responsible for the majority of the drug's medicinal effects, THC and CBD differ wildly in the effects they produce in the body. Unlike THC, CBD does not have any mind-altering effects. That makes CBD the best option for people looking to tap into the medical benefits of marijuana without getting high.

The benefits of CBD compared to those of other compounds in cannabis. Source

In a huge number of cases, CBD has effectively provided medicinal and therapeutic effects for a wide range of health complaints. Some of these include:

  • Appetite Stimulant: According to the National Cancer Institute, CBD can help fast-track healing by stimulating a person’s appetite to furnish cells with vital nutrients needed for regeneration and recovery.
  • Analgesic: CBD has helped combat pain in patients suffering from various types of chronic pain, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, migraine, and many other conditions. CBD is also heavily associated with anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Relief for anxiety, depression: CBD has also proved effective on countless occasions in fighting anxiety, PTSD, depression, etc. And since it’s not addictive, it often presents a better alternative to over-the-counter medications that can be addictive.
  • Cancer treatment: CBD can help cancer patients manage symptoms in several ways, including through inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells, and alleviating the nausea, vomiting and pain caused by chemotherapy.
  • The treatment of neurological problems: Researchers have shown that since CBD takes effect on the endocannabinoid system, which regulates several variables that contribute to mental health, the chemical can be used to treat various neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Cardio health: Several lab experiments on CBD’s impact on the heart show the chemical has the potential to enhance heart health in numerous ways, including through normalising blood pressure and protecting cardio muscle tissues.
  • Skin health: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties and capacity to regulate sebum secretion in the sebaceous glands, CBD has the potential to address acne and many other skin complaints.



How is CBD Different to THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the primary source of the mind-altering properties of marijuana. While THC-dominant cannabis strains are ideal for recreational purposes, CBD-dominant strains are more suitable for medical use, since they deliver most of the therapeutic effects of cannabis without inducing a high. Both chemicals are produced in the same glands in the plant, and have an almost identical chemical formula. However, a slight difference in the atomic structure of THC gives it mind-altering qualities. Pure CBD is the best alternative to the whole cannabis plant for people who want the medical effects of cannabis without getting caught up in the high.

However, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect, which has been discovered in recent times, has created a new set of questions about the medicinal effects of CBD. The entourage effect is a theory that suggests CBD might produce maximum medical benefits when it is administered in combination with THC and the other compounds in the plant.



Where is the Use of CBD Legal?

Since CBD is non-psychoactive, completely natural and innocuous, it’s legal in most parts of the world where the whole plant itself is still outlawed. In the US CBD is legal by federal law, since industrial hemp, a source of CBD, became legal with the passage of the Federal Farm Bill last year. Since industrial hemp (with less than 0.2% THC) is also legal in the EU, CBD is legal across various countries in Europe, including Austria, Denmark, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Italy, and even the United Kingdom. CBD is also legal across Latin America, including in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Guatemala. In Asia, the compound is legal in China, South Korea, and Thailand. The compound was legalised by the Australian government last year. Patients can now access CBD products legally across the country through a Special Access program instituted by the government.



Would Legalising CBD Pose a Risk to NZ?

Since CBD itself is mostly innocuous, it hardly poses any risk to individuals, much less society at large. However, its continued prohibition can actually have negative effects on society, as it pushes people in desparate need of the compound to turn to unregulated black markets, where the quality of products and the consumer’s rights are not guaranteed. While many people might have negative associations with marijuana use, CBD is different to other compounds and can be taken without a “high”. This allows people to get the most from the beneficial compounds. CBD is a medically useful substance, and misinformation and mixed opinions about recreational cannabis use should not be used to determine whether or not it becomes legal.