THE LATEST DOPE Why legal cannabis is the new must-have herbal remedy — with converts claiming benefits from pain relief to acne

Medical cannabis is on sale on the high street and stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Whoopi Goldberg swear by it

IT’S more commonly associated with teenagers’ bedrooms and Snoop Dogg than the shelves of a health food store or chic packaging on Insta.

But alongside the vitamin supplements and turmeric teas in your local Holland & Barrett, you’ll now find a different kind of herbal remedy: weed.

 The United States has a fast-growing legal weed industry

CORBIS
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The United States has a fast-growing legal weed industry

Since the high-street store started stocking medical cannabis oil CBD (cannabidiol) in January, it’s become one of the retail chain’s biggest sellers, and now four more CBD products will be rolled out in the coming months.

“We have been surprised at the success and popularity of CBD oil,” says a Holland & Barrett spokesperson. “We knew there were numerous trends surfacing around it, but we didn’t expect to see sales increase this dramatically.”

But it’s just one of many ways cannabis is increasingly becoming the latest must-have wellness product, infused in everything from luxury moisturisers to bottled water. We take a look at whether the herb lives up to the hype.

But is it legal?

“Cannabis contains more than 100 chemicals called cannabinoids, and the two main ones are THC and CBD,” explains Professor Mike Barnes, a neurologist who has completed a government report on medical cannabis.

Some people find the medicinal properties of CBD can help with stress and insomnia

“THC is the psychoactive component that makes recreational users high, but it also has therapeutic properties and can help with pain and muscle spasms.

CBD, however, doesn’t have a psychoactive effect, and is completely legal to buy in the UK as a nutritional supplement.

CBD also has medicinal properties – some people find it can help with anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia and pain.

Cannabis oil can contain CBD or THC or a combination of the two, but if it has any THC in it, then it becomes illegal in the UK,” Mike adds.

 Whoopi Goldberg vapes her cannabis to treat pain, stress and glaucoma

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Whoopi Goldberg vapes her cannabis to treat pain, stress and glaucoma

The law still categorises cannabis as a Class B drug that is illegal to possess in any form, and the Home Office says it has no plans to change this.

Go green

Love Hemp, which launched in 2015 and calls itself the UK’s first “lifestyle CBD brand”, sells CBD body salves, cold-pressed oils, crystals and gummy bears. In March it launched CBD-infused hemp water in Ocado, £11.99 for eight 1.5L bottles, which sold out in two days.

“Cannabidiol oil encourages the release and uptake of dopamine and serotonin and helps support the immune system,” says Tony Calamita from Love Hemp.

“Ingesting it through water means the uptake is higher, and you’re hydrating at the same time. I take CBD oil every morning with my coffee. Anyone who is health-aware should try it.”

It’s no wonder then that wellness-obsessed celebs are already on the CBD bandwagon. Gwyneth Paltrow uses drops.

Another fan of medicinal cannabis, actress Gwyneth Paltrow said CBD oil aids relaxation

“Someone gave me some CBD oil in a little drop. It doesn’t make you stoned or anything, just a little relaxed,” revealed the Goop founder in January.

And she’s not the only one – actress Olivia Wilde used it to relieve physical aches during an intense run of Broadway shows.

When it comes to the stronger stuff, cannabis is legal in California, and Whoopi Goldberg is a fan, vaping hers to treat pain, stress and glaucoma. She has even co-founded the company Maya & Whoopi, which sells cannabis edibles, tinctures and body salves.

Goldberg sells cannabis edibles through her company Maya and Whoopi

“Gone are the days of the plant’s clichéd association with Bob Marley,” says Jessica Smith, trend forecaster at The Future Laboratory.

“Now wellness brands are creating products that don’t carry the traditional tropes of cannabis and are treating CBD like an active ingredient in a luxury beauty product.”

Skinning up

With the A list jumping on this new wellness trend, it was never going to be long before the beauty industry took note, too.

Cannabidiol can reduce oil production and could help treat acne

Indeed, a new wave of hi-tech beauty brands are harnessing CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties when applied to the skin.

One study found that CBD can reduce oil production and could help treat acne*, and new research carried out by dermatologists at the University of Colorado found that cannabinoids can reduce inflammation in cases of psoriasis, eczema and allergic dermatitis.

MGC Derma is a new skincare line that uses high-quality cannabidiol in a range of serums, masks and creams. “The CBD kick-starts a biochemical reaction in the body that can change everything from sebum production to skin barrier function to moisture retention in the skin,” explains Roby Zomer, CEO of MGC Derma.

In the US, patients with acne and seborrheic dermatitis were successfully treated with a cannabis-seed-extract cream

In the Colorado study, patients with acne and seborrheic dermatitis were treated topically with a 3% cannabis-seed-extract cream, and results showed they went on to have more normal levels of skin sebum and redness.

Pain, pain, go away

If you’re worried that glugging down hemp water will leave you with a drug problem, don’t be.

According to the World Health Organisation, CBD is not addictive and may have therapeutic benefits.

The report indicated that CBD can be effective in the treatment of epilepsy and for pain relief because it is anti-inflammatory and analgesic.Medicinal marijuana is used to alleviate pain as well as to help sufferers of anxiety and depression

The WHO also found that it may help those with a range of conditions including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, pain, anxiety, depression, cancer and complications associated with diabetes, such as heart failure.

So it’s no surprise that research from Cannabis Trades Association UK shows cannabis oil use in Britain has doubled in a year, bringing the number of people using it to 300,000.

“We’re seeing CBD oil used for many conditions, the most common being fibromyalgia, epilepsy and anxiety,” says Mike Harlington, chairman of CTA UK.

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