Every decade has its drug. They are just as distinct as the music, fashion and cinema that we associate with different eras; often, they even come from the same roots. The 80s gave us Reaganomics, Izod shirts with the collars popped, and U2. It’s hard to imagine much of this wasn’t fueled by untold quantities of cocaine. The 90s gave us house and acid music, shiny neon tracksuits, and a concoction of acronyms such as MDMA, which made that all seem somehow acceptable. Today, it seems very few of us are raving. Given the rise of the gig economy, the decline of political discourse, and the unabashed embrace of flannel and check shirts, it’s no surprise that the signature drug of this decade is one that promises a good night’s sleep, an end to lower back pain and a little help controlling the existential angst that rises up for most of us every time we read the news.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the hip drug right now with sales poised to hit $1 billion by 2020. Chances are you’re either using it already, or you’ve heard of it online or from your friend at the gym who won’t shut up about the amazing healing powers of hemp. Sure, CBD is a cannabis-derived compound, but unlike the joints you snuck into college dorms, it won’t get you high. What it claims to do is just about everything else. From anxiety to arthritis via insomnia and indigestion, CBD has become a go-to for athletes, aging people and just about anyone who finds themselves frustrated with chronic conditions. Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound that is found in the hemp plant as well as the marijuana plant. When you consume marijuana as a whole plant, the CBD is accompanied by other cannabinoids and terpenes including its psychotropic cousin — tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC — that’s the one that gets you high. When you use CBD alone, you don’t feel high. But if you believe what you read on the internet, you might feel and perform better.