The Fascinating History of CBD

CBD History

It’s a tale as old as time. For centuries, healers the world over have believed in the power of cannabis. This rich history of CBD and cannabis in general, combined with scientific advancement, has culminated in the ability to capture the potential of CBD oil and tap into its healing power. We live in an age of endless possibility, as studies begin uncovering the positive effects of CBD on stress, anxiety, inflammation, seizures, and more.

The journey here certainly hasn’t been drama-free. It involves ancient Chinese healers, nomadic horticulturists, royal doctors, and a fight for legislation. This leads us to today—the golden age of CBD. We are confident in the safety and effectiveness of CBD and have obtained the legal right to grow and distribute. Now we are itching to get this healing oil into the hands of those that need and want it.

Here’s how it all came to be:

2700 BC—Ancient Chinese Healing

Historians credit Emperor Shen Neng with being the first to take advantage of the healing benefits of cannabis. The ancient Chinese not only used the cannabis plant for its fibers (to create things like paper, clothes, and rope), they also leveraged the power of cannabis for healing and are said to have prescribed it for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

BC Era—Nomadic Journey

Nomadic people groups are responsible for spreading cannabis plants around the globe. As these groups wandered the world, they brought cannabis seeds to grow and trade. There is evidence of cannabis in ancient China, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire.

1840s—Research Begins

William Brook O’Shaughnessy, an Irish physician, is the first to formally research the healing effects of cannabis after seeing it used medicinally in Calcutta. His research indicates that until this point in history, Europeans were unaware of the psychological and medicinal effects of the plant. His case studies found such compelling evidence of its potential that they created a sensation among European physicians, who began using cannabis to treat various ailments.

1870s—Royal Medicine

The royals caught cannabis fever, and the masses took notice. Empress Elizabeth of Austria used it to help with a cough and to stimulate her appetite. Queen Victoria’s royal physician published his medical journals, revealing that he relied on cannabis to treat the Queen’s menstrual cramps. The physician’s journals also revealed that he used cannabis as a remedy for migraines and gout and even as a salve for teething infants. He stressed the importance of sourcing high-quality and expertly cultivated cannabis and administering it responsibly.

1930s to 1970s—Criminalization

As over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin became widely available, cannabis use for pain decreased. It was removed from pharmacies in the 1940s and declared a dangerous drug in the 1960s by the United Nations. In the 1970s, it was declared illegal in the United States. Because of this designation, research came to a screeching halt.

1940—CBD Compound is Isolated

Roger Adams, an American chemist, quietly made a world-changing discovery when he figured out how to isolate the compound CBD from the cannabis plant. Like THC, CBD is a cannabinoid found in cannabis. However, unlike THC, CBD does not make you high. CBD allows you to tap into the healing effects of cannabis without the psychotropic effects.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli chemist, continued the work set in motion by Adams, further studying the pharmacological potential of CBD in the 1960s. In the 1980s, he conducted research on CBD as a treatment for epilepsy.

1978—Legalized Research

In 1978, the State of New Mexico legalized cannabis use, but only for the purposes of research.


California legalized medical marijuana. The Golden State was quickly followed by Alaska, Washington and Oregon.

2012—Colorado Legalizes Marijuana

Colorado was the first state to legalize cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use. Over the next 10 years, 19 other states, Guam and the District of Columbia, followed suit.

2013—Public Demand

A CNN special highlighted Charlotte Figi, a young girl from Colorado, whose severe form of epilepsy restricted her to a wheelchair. Charlotte’s seizures dropped dramatically from several hundred a week to just a few a month after her mother began administering CBD oil to Charlotte. The story gained national attention, and people began to demand more information and access to CBD for its healing properties. Due to the demand from the public, the FDA fast-tracked clinical trials to approve CBD-based drugs.

2018—FDA Approval & CBD Legalization

The FDA approved the first CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, which is used to manage epilepsy. The same year, federal legislation made CBD legal as long as it is derived from the hemp plant and contains less than .3%THC.


Interest in CBD is exploding as word spreads about its safety and benefits. It has become a trusted option for people seeking relief. Medical research and evidence are growing daily to support CBD’s effectiveness with depression, anxiety and chronic pain, and researchers are actively seeking to confirm its effectiveness with conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and schizophrenia.

If you are ready to jump into the world of CBD after learning more about the history of CBD, the “miracle drug” is readily available and provides relief to millions of people. Take our solutions finder quiz to find the right product for you.


About Mollie & her Family

Mollie Benton is the co-founder of 101 Hemp and freelance writer for the 101 Hemp blog. She enjoys running on the beach with her two Labs, adventuring with her hubby and three kids, and devoting her life to healing the world.