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Is CBD Really the Marijuana Molecule That Cures All?

Choices, choices.

Choices, choices.

Photographer: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP
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Wonder drug or modern-day snake oil? Appearing in stores and online in the form of body lotions, capsules, tinctures, edible gummies and bottled water, CBD has exploded in popularity as a way to reap the supposed health benefits of marijuana without the high that comes with it. All this is in spite of the paucity of evidence of its merits so far.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of more than 100 molecules called cannabinoids that are found in cannabis. Unlike the nearly identical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main active ingredient in pot, CBD doesn’t produce a buzz. According to a report by the World Health Organization, it hasn’t exhibited any potential for abuse or dependence, and there is no evidence of any public health-related problems associated with its use.