Over the past year, CBD has exploded in popularity. It seems like it’s everywhere. In some states, even Walgreens and CVS are selling CBD products. CBD can be found in everything from bath salts to gummy candies, but what exactly is this stuff? As a Christ follower, is CBD something you should try?

What exactly is CBD?

CBD is the nickname of cannabidiol, a natural chemical found in cannabis plants. There is a lot of confusion about CBD and its effects, because the cannabis plant genus includes both hemp and marijuana. The big difference is that hemp-derived CBD does not get users high. In fact, to be legally grown in the United States, hemp must contain less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that marijuana contains in quantities of up to 25 or 30 percent. It’s the THC that produces the high.

Why does that matter for Christians? One thing to consider is that there are several Bible verses that explicitly instruct believers in Christ to remain sober or clear-headed. The Bible also speaks of avoiding drunkenness. While these verses do not specifically forbid getting high, they imply that God wants you to keep yourself from being mentally impaired by any substance. Timothy instructs believers in 2 Timothy 4:5 (New Living Translation): “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.”

CBD passes the litmus test of users remaining sober-minded when they use it. In fact, many users say they feel nothing at all when they take it.

How does CBD help?

So if it doesn’t get you high and you may not feel anything at all when you take it, what good is CBD? What does it do? The human body has an endocannabinoid system. That means our bodies produce natural cannabinoids, just like the cannabis plants do. Doctors and researchers are still learning about the human endocannabinoid system, but they know you have cannabinoid receptors that bind to cannabinoids and evidently keep the body in homeostasis. That means your body is in a healthy state with no inflammation.

Inflammation in any part of your body makes you sick, from breakouts of skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema to disturbances in the your brain waves that produce seizures or anxiety or insomnia.

CBD is still in the early stages of human clinical trials because of its past legal status, but the trials that have been done show that CBD causes your body’s cannabinoid receptors to activate. CBD seems to help keep you in the healthy state of homeostasis. The results of these trials showed even large doses of CBD produced very little or no adverse side effects. Trial subjects stayed sober, and their bodies were not harmed in any way.

That is great news for people who take prescription medicines with harmful side effects. Some seizure medicines, for example, will damage users’ livers in the long run. However, those medicines are necessary for preventing seizures. It’s a daily trade-off that users may be able to avoid with the use of CBD. The first CBD-based medication to be approved by the FDA is called Epidiolex, and is used to treat seizure disorder.

What about obeying authority? Is CBD legal?

The Bible instructs Christ followers to obey government and authority. Romans 13:1-7 makes it very clear: “All of you must yield to the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God. So those who are against the government are really against what God has commanded. And they will bring punishment on themselves … So you must yield to the government, not only because you might be punished, but because you know it is right.” (verses 1-3, 5, New Century Version)

CBD used to be illegal. It was classified as a controlled substance in the United States because it comes from the cannabis plant genus, and cannabis was deemed illegal under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. That changed in December 2018. President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which declassified hemp containing 0.3 percent THC or less from being a controlled substance. It is now legal to grow hemp if growers apply to their individual states for a license and follow state regulations. It is also legal under the Farm Bill to produce products from hemp, sell them, and transport them across state lines.

The sticky part is that Food and Drug Administration regulations and approvals have not caught up to the Farm Bill yet. The FDA regulates all food and beverages, medicines and supplements, and a lot of body products such as topical creams. Basically, anything you are going to put into your body on onto your skin (or into your pet’s body or onto its skin) needs FDA approval to show it has been tested for harmful side effects. FDA testing also helps ensure products contain what they say they contain – nothing more or less. The FDA recognizes that CBD has already “gone public” and is moving toward regulations and approvals. But it’s not there yet. Also, some states have not caught up with the new federal law and still classify all cannabis-derived products, even hemp-based ones, as violating state drug laws.