Cannabidiol (a.k.a. CBD) is proving to be one of the breakout stars of the flourishing international cannabis industry. It's used by many to treat pain, depression, insomnia, and anxiety, and the FDA even recently approved a CBD-based drug to treat some forms of epilepsy. The compound, which doesn't have any of the psychotropic effects of THC, is starting to be regarded as a sort of panacea.
In California, where weed is somehow even more common now that it's legal recreationally, CBD is trickling its way into an enormous edible and drinkable market already teeming with THC-infused products. As I saw more and more CBD foodstuffs lining my local dispensary’s shelves, it got me wondering: What would happen if I spent a week eating and drinking only CBD-infused meals? If CBD is so good for you, wouldn't nothing but CBD be great for you? To make sure I wasn’t about to inadvertently dose myself into history’s mellowest coma, I consulted with Allan Frankel, a doctor and the founder of Greenbridge Medical Services and an expert on medical cannabis, to go over the potential downsides of an all-CBD diet. “There’s really no risk there at all,” Frankel assured me when I informed him of my plans. “You just don’t want to get hemp products from China and Slovenia because they have heavy metals in them.”
Fortunately, I was sourcing my CBD products for the week via my contacts in the surprisingly vast world of cannabis public relations, so I wasn’t too concerned about the purity levels in the veritable cornucopia of US-grown and -processed sundries they sent to aid my journey.
I began the first morning of my experiment as I would any other: Skipping a healthy breakfast in favor of slamming down a number of highly-caffeinated beverages that would carry me to lunch. This time, however, my usual coffee or battery-acid energy drink was replaced with pomegranate acai Cannabis Quencher Sips, CBD-filled boosters that are sort of like 5-Hour Energys. Ignoring the packaging instructions that these bottles were for sipping, I pounded two back like shots and waited to see whether the upper or downer within this cocktail would reign supreme. In the end, I didn’t feel much of anything other than slightly less tired. I was pretty sure this is how I always felt around this hour of the day, though, so… success?
For my first meal, I used a tincture from La Vida Verde to squeeze droplets of CBD oil onto the avocado toast lunch I’d prepared for myself like a good millennial. As there aren’t enough non-snack CBD products on the market that would allow me to hit my required daily calories, let alone create a well-balanced diet, this DIY approach to infusing accounted for the lion’s share of my intake of the extract. And when oil didn’t suit the food I was dosing, or I felt like mixing things up, I subbed in the powdered CBD that had been provided by Mondo Meds, sprinkling it over my meals to the same effect. Throughout the day I periodically rehydrated with good old-fashioned H2O that had been infused with CBD by Root Origins. I continued having a hard time separating my natural sleepy state from the possible effects of the product.
To reward myself for a fastidious first day, and because I had yet to really feel any discernible effects, I decided to eat half a CBD chocolate bar by Blank Brand as a late dessert/early sleep aid. Unlike the other products, this had some THC in it as well, but only enough to complement the CBD, not overpower it. At least that’s what I’d been assured by colleagues and friends more familiar with that one-two punch of the cannabinoids. After my cookie, I went to bed feeling relatively normal but proceeded to get absurdly high while I slept. I was so high that in the middle of a dream, I went through stages of increasing lucidity where I first figured out I was dreaming, then assessed that I was high while dreaming, then remembered why, and finally wondered if lucid dreaming was a side effect of CBD that I was one of the first to tap into, all while still asleep. I woke up the next morning less rested than I’d have liked, but happy to have finally felt something from my experiment.
The next three days were similar to the first, oiling or powdering my sustenance-providing food ferried in from the sober world with ever-increasing dosages of CBD. When feeling peckish, I’d indulge in some CBD soda by Sprig or a Fruit Roll-Up-ish “Fruit Slab.” As nice as these and all the other products tasted, they were beginning to feel like a drag, particularly in the light of the fact that I’d yet to notice any real uptick in my overall wellness. I realized I’d have to take a more drastic approach if I were to ever reach CBD glory.
On my fourth day, on top of my normal routine, I started carrying a tube of Botanika CBD spray in my pocket that I’d periodically spritz into my mouth like a Binaca canister. It didn’t have quite the same breath-freshening effects, but it tingled my mouth a bit. I knew in my heart, however, that this was a superficial effect. I began to get worried. My results were, thus far, inconclusive at best.
Deciding that perhaps my infusion methodology was the problem, I decided to seek outside help on the fifth day of my CBD week. I went to Moon Juice, one of LA’s most crystal-filled new-age wellness shops, to get one of their $10 juices with a $6 shot of CBD dumped in. Sadly, I felt no difference between this bougie CBDrink and my homemade mixtures beyond the dent it put in my wallet. Ironically, my growing worry about the experiment being a failure was starting to give me anxiety.
I reverted back to my normal self-administered dosages on an equally uneventful day six. I realized I’d have to pull out all the stops for the finale, even if that meant behaving in ways that Dr. Frankel and the companies behind these products wouldn’t approve of. I was going to feel something or die trying.
I dropped all pretense on the last day and ate my food untainted, instead simply dumping spoonfuls of CBD powder directly onto my tongue for each meal. When that still failed to make me feel more than a bit groggy, I went for the nuclear option and chugged a whole tincture of oil. At long last my superhuman tolerance was subverted and the drug hit me hard. My head became heavy, my stomach burbled angrily, and I began to feel a deep dysphoria that lasted long after the mega nap I soon indulged in. Success?
Despite this ultimately anticlimactic outcome of my week, I’m not willing to jump on the “CBD is snake oil” bandwagon. After all, I hadn't been trying to treat any symptoms. Obviously, people have reported plenty of positive effects from CBD—but when it came to me, the compound didn't do much for my "wellness." Its cousin THC, on the other hand, remains in my good graces.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Mondo Meds as Mondo Goods.
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