CBD Branches into the Mainstream

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By Lewis Finney

In Manchester’s leafy suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, an area with a high volume of independent cafes, restaurants bars and pubs, lies one particular vendor whose products are purely plant based. This is no surprise these days, the popularity of veganism has been on a positive trajectory for a while now. This café though, while offering a variety of vegan options, has one particular plant playing a leading role throughout its menu – Cannabis.

Now, this isn’t a backstreet, illicit venue for people to wander in off the street in search of a high, rather a perfectly legal, charm- ing and welcoming establishment whose connec- tion to the plant is signalled in its name – ‘CBD Manchester.’

CBD, or to give it it’s scientific name – Cannabidiol, is a component found in the cannabis plant and, if you’ve been paying attention in certain establishments recently, is increasingly being offered as an additional extra to drinks, being incorporated into recipes and sold in supplement form.

Its recent rise popularity is due to its numerous medicinal properties which are said help consumers with ailments ranging from small muscle complaints to much more serious symptoms such as epileptic seizures.

In 2018, the media’s coverage of the case of Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old autistic boy who suffered from such seizures, brought CBD into mainstream debate. His mother campaigned and won the right for Billy to be the first person in the UK to receive treatment prescribed by the NHS for medi- cine derived from the cannabis plant, due to its effectiveness of treating Billy’s symptoms.

Since then people started to sit up and take notice and began to explore how CBD help them with their daily struggles.

Enter CBD Manchester.

Established in October 2018, CBD Manchester has quickly developed regular customer base. Any of their drinks can be topped up with a few drops of CBD oil as an optional extra.

Yasmin Ghani, CBD Manchester’s Business Manager, wholeheartedly advocates for its use. “All of our customers are lovely and completely unique. People come in here and feel relaxed and start interacting which is great. You wouldn’t get that in Costa,” she proudly tells us.

Other CBD products available to customers include hemp teas, oils, mints, throat lozenges, chocolates, balms, body oils and vapes.

The pièce de résistance though, the CBD Bliss Balls – truffle-esque treats made on site by the café assistant who enthusiastically runs us though the options: cacao and orange, peanut butter, coconut and cardamom and lemon and ginger, all made with hemp protein.

It’s about more than the food however, it’s about what this added ingredient is doing to improve people’s wellbeing. Ghani said: “People come back all the time and they’re telling us it works.

“People can be on antidepressants and want to find a way to come off. They hear about CBD and they come here to see if it will help and it works. Same with addictions such as alcohol or drugs. They want a way of feeling good that isn’t addictive.”

At this moment one of the café’s regular customers walks past and confirms what Ghani just told me. She tells us that she has a tea at night which helps her sleep and one in the morning that gets her ready for the day, saying it always puts her in a good mood.

There is the argument that the effects felt by consumers are something of a placebo, after all the human mind is a powerful and unpredictable thing. Ghani counteracts that argument though: “I know of people who have given it to their dogs, and they’ve seen improvement. How could a placebo work on a dog? It doesn’t understand what it’s being given.”

None of the products on offer in the café contain more than the legal limit of 0.2% THC, the chemical in cannabis that gets the user high. As well as the high though, in serious cases THC can have negative effects such as anxiety, psychosis or schizophrenia.

When cultivated correctly in a controlled environment however, CBD develops in more-or-less equal measure to THC and helps to counteract and effectively balance out some of these negative outcomes, but CBD takes longer to develop in the plant than the THC.

This, in the deregulated world in which it must exist, creates a problem: The people growing cannabis to be sold on the black market are mostly concerned with creating a product with high THC content, as per the demands of the customer. Coupled with the need to harvest their crops quickly in order to avoid detection and accumulate a quicker cashflow, the CBD is rarely given enough time to develop completely. The result
of this is that the cannabis that people consume which is procured on the streets has minimal benefits of the cannabis plant, yet all the harmful elements.

Dr Oliver Sutcliffe, Senior Lecturer in Psychopharmaceutical Chemistry at Manchester Met and Director of MANDRAKE (Manchester Drug Analysis and Knowledge Exchange) conducted a study in 2017 in which over 50 samples of cannabis from the Manchester area were gathered and tested. The results found exactly that, a dangerous imbalance in the THC/CBD ratio.

This isn’t just indicative of Manchester either: “These results were in line with what researchers had reported in other countries,” Sutcliffe told BBC Newsbeat after his studies subsequent findings.

The regulation of cannabis isn’t being debated here, but this information helps to highlight the important job CBD does where it occurs naturally.

There are a wide variety of CBD products on the market these days and Ghani believes that it’s important for people to educate themselves about them.

“People should shop around to find them best product for them. People get it from Holland & Barret and come to us saying it doesn’t do anything. That’s because the stuff you get there is quite weak. There are different strengths and people have different tolerances.”

The cannabis regulation issue to one side, CBD is here to stay and, on the evidence that I’ve seen, it is being welcomed by those who have dipped their toes in.

About the author / 


aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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