CBD History timeline

Here is the history of CBD. While CBD may be a new term and a fairly recent addition to our vocabulary, it is not new to medicine.  The first recorded use case occurred around 2727 B.C. when Emperor Sheng Neng of China used a cannabis-based tea to help with a variety of health ailments that included poor memory, malaria, and even gout.

history of CBD

6,000 B.C.

Hemp as a herbal medicine was published in what is known to be the oldest Pharmacopoeia, “Pen Ts’ao Ching.” It is believed that hemp was being used as far back as 6000 B.C. The writings by the great medical writer, Li Shi Chen, show traditions handed down by generations. In the texts, the ancient Chinese identified that cannabis plants contain either male or female reproductive properties. This discovery was the first understanding of the difference between “hemp” and “marijuana.”

3100 B.C.

Traces of Cannabis have been found in a number of Egyptian mummies. Providing more evidence that marijuana was a regular part of ancient Egyptian culture. One of their gods, Seshat, the goddess of wisdom, is often depicted with a marijuana leaf above her head.

2737 B.C.

According to Chinese legend, the emperor Shen-Nung was the first person to discover the healing properties of Cannabis. He is known to have extracted hemp oil from the plant’s seeds for pain treatment and made topical salves for treating skin rashes and irritation.


During his reign, King Henry VIII required the cultivation of hemp in England. This was used to make clothing and building materials.


There was an indigenous, fibrous species known to Native Americans as Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum). However settlers travelling from Europe brought and cultivated the species we now know as Cannabis sativa.


Hemp was prevalent on the continent of Africa, where amongst other uses, the plant was given to pregnant women before childbirth.


William Brooke O'Shaughnessy (b. 1809) was an Irish physician famous for introducing the therapeutic use of Cannabis to Western medicine. One of his patients was Queen Victoria of England, who used CBD to manage menstrual pain. He is also well known for paving the way for the development of intravenous therapy (I.V.).


During the temperance movement, cannabis was commonly recommended as a substitute for alcohol as people knew that the effects of marijuana mitigated some of the issues caused by alcohol abuse.


The Cannabis plant, which includes Hemp and Marijuana, is banned as part of the Controlled Substances Act. Signed by Richard Nixon, it classified the plant as a Schedule I drug on the basis that it has "a high potential for abuse” and “no medicinal value.”


Mexican Revolution influences the criminalisation of cannabis in the U.S.


American organic chemist, Roger Adams, becomes the first person to isolate the CBD compound.


Raphael Mechoulam, known as the “father of cannabis” is credited with the isolation of THC as well as elucidating the entire cannabidiol structure.


President Ronald Reagan pours tens of millions of dollars into a study to prove that marijuana damages the human brain. However, the Reagan administration ends up subsidising a series of studies that culminates in the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, expanding our understanding of how cannabinoids interact with the human body.


In the United States, the Farm Bill is passed, allowing the state-sponsored cultivation of hemp – provided that it has 0.3% or less THC.

2018 September

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reschedules the epilepsy cannabidiol drug Epidiolex from Schedule I to Schedule V, setting the stage for further deregulation of Cannabis.

2018 December

The 2018 Farm Bill in the USA sets a statute that legalises the hemp plant (cannabis sativa) as long as it contains no more than 0.3% of THC. Now, all parts of the hemp plant are federally legal to grow and use commercially.

May 2019

In South Africa, Government Notice No. 756 of 2019 Medicines and Related Substances Act (101/1965) provided exclusion of certain preparations containing Cannabidiol (CBD) from operation of certain provisions of the Act. CBD preparations, which are products containing less than 20 mg per daily dose of CBD, are now allowed to be sold and are exempt from the Schedules to the Medicines Act. Products are to be labelled for General Health Maintenance, Enhancement, or the Relief of Minor Symptoms. To contain no more than 10ppm (0,001% of THC).