Cannabis oil has become a phenomenon in Wales.
Thousands of people use it either on its own or in products like coffee, moisturisers and even bath bombs. You can buy it on high streets across the nation.
According to a report by the World Health Organisation, CBD may help treat symptoms relating to diseases such as Parkinson's, MS, anxiety and depression.
But CBD oil not without controversy. We spoke to five people – as well as a doctor – about what they had to say about the substance.
‘It was like living in a dark hole, you think your life is going to end'
Andrew Newman, a 35-year-old from Porthcawl, suffers from PTSD and anxiety after serving in Afghanistan 11 years ago.
He served in the army for 18 months and says the sights of bombs going off and the death of civilians, made him depressed.
He said: “I wasn't in Afghanistan for ages but what I saw would stick with me. The sounds of bombs going off, and seeing civilians being killed, it was really tough.
“When I came back to Wales, little things would trigger me off, the sight of people fighting or arguing in the street was scary. It's like living in a dark hole, you think your life is going to end, you think to yourself ‘what is the point in this life?'.
“I really needed something because I've got a young family. The stats of ex-soldiers committing suicide is very high, but I needed to be stronger than that.”
Five years ago, he started taking CBD to help cure his stress and anxiety. He started taking it using an oil which is taken orally under the tongue.
He says he felt an instant relief with the pain and his PTSD became easier to control. Even his dad, who he said was initially very critical of him for taking it, has started using it.
Andrew now runs his own CBD shop in Bridgend and has also invested in his own hemp farm in the Caribbean to source his own products and lower the cost of CBD.
Everything you need to know about CBD
What is CBD?
CBD is one of the 115 chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, that are found in the cannabis plant.
It can come from two different cannabis plants, the hemp plant or the marijuana plant – which has far more THC.
Cannabis oil has been the subject of several high profile cases in recent years such as children with severe epilepsy who have been denied access to the substance to help control seizures.
What are the benefits of taking CBD?
Many users say TAKING CBD helps with a number of issues including anxiety, depression and muscle pains.
Despite the claims, researchers have not yet been able to say for certain what specific benefits it can have.
Experts also say the benefits to CBD are subjective and that it isn't a total cure.
According to the NHS, medical cannabis is a broad term for any sort of cannabis-based medicine used to relieve symptoms.
It said: “Many cannabis-based products are available to buy online, but their quality and content is not known. They may be illegal and potentially dangerous.”
Is it legal?
Cannabis itself is a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
While many of the more than 100 cannabinoids that make up cannabis are controlled, CBD is not.
This isn't a recent change, with industrial hemp long being grown in the UK. It is a strain of the cannabis plant, but contains little or no THC, but does contain CBD.
CBD is also sold across many high street retailers and with the research around it growing, the popularity for the product is also increasing.
The Home Office said it would only issue licences for the cultivation of plants from approved seed types with a THC content not exceeding 0.2%.
Will CBD make me high?
CBD will not get you. It is non -psychoactive meaning it doesn't negatively impact your mind or mental process.
‘I feel like a normal person again'.
Jemima Jones, 39, a nurse from Bridgend, suffers from fibromyalgia. She was diagnosed with it 10 years ago and has had to take time off work.
She has had to employ a cleaner at her home and says she hasn't been able to enjoy time with her kids as much as she'd have liked.
One month ago, she stopped taking the 20 tablets a day she was being prescribed and took CBD through oil form.
“You know when you have a flu? and your body feels rundown? that's how it feels living with my condition 24/7,” she said.
“I haven't been able to do normal things at home, like cleaning because of the pain I suffer. I haven't been able to take my kids to gymnastics and other sports.”
Since taking CBD, Jemima says she felt an instant pain relief in her body for at least 48 hours. She says CBD has changed her life and she isn't going to go back to taking medication for as long as possible.
She added: “Since I have been taking it, I'm taking my children out for sport, I'm working as normal again, I can't speak highly enough of it and what it's done for me.
“I feel like a normal person again.”
‘I needed something to ease my pain and relax my muscles'
Tanith Parfit, was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome two years ago but has suffered ever since she can remember.
The 25-year-old, from Cardiff, suffers from a rare inherited condition that affect connective tissues in the body. The symptoms include increased joint movement, stretchy skin and fragile skin that breaks or bruises easily.
She says she decided to try CBD a year ago as she just wanted something to “ease her pain.”
“I didn't know loads about it but I just needed something to ease my pain and relax my muscles,” she said.
“I was diagnosed two years ago but before that I didn't know why I had so much pain. I was on different medicine that I just got sick of pain killers. My body was sick of them.
“The pain gets so bad in my body sometimes. I've been on crutches and have had to take time off work because I physically can't move. My knee caps usually hurt the most but it's just something I've gotten used to as the years went on.”
Tanith says she felt like she had nothing to lose by taking CBD and started taking it through an oil form.
She says the pain slowly decreased over time but she hasn't increased her dosage.
She added: “I felt my pain slowly decrease over time and I am able to work again. I had to do something because the pain was unbearable at times.
“I would say that CBD helps me feel normal. It means that I am able to go out there and work and carry out my other day to day activities. For me, it's something I will carry on taking.
“CBD definitely isn't a cure but it's helped me out and reduced a lot of my pain.”
‘Doctors told me in five or ten years I wouldn't be able to move my arms above my head'
Nickki Perry, 28, from Bridgend was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia seven years ago. He was taking up to 24 tablets a day.
A builder by trade, he was involved in a car crash when he was younger and since has had excruciating pain in his chest.
Fibromyalgia causes widespread chronic pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. Nickki was taking up to 24 tablets a day, including Naproxen and Tramadol.
He said: “My chest would get so bad and my arms that I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. My missus would have to get me out and as a 28-year-old, that just isn't nice.
“I would have to wake up an hour before I'd have to get ready to give the drugs time to work as otherwise I'd be too high on the drugs to be able to drive. I'd then have to have three or four cups of coffee, to make sure the drugs from the night before have left my body.
“I needed something to change the pain. Doctors told me in five or ten years I wouldn't be able to move my arms above my head. That got to me and that's when I had to try something else.”
Nickki was introduced to CBD at a cannabis march in Cardiff three years ago. He says he didn't get high off it, but he felt an instant pain relief in his body and wanted to explore it further.
He now works s at Andrew Newman's CBD shop.
“Coming off Tramadol was hard. I can only liken it to a heroine addict coming off cold. But CBD changed my life, without it I'd be at home, not being able to work, and not being able to spread the message of what it does,” he said.
“It's changed my life.”
What do the experts think?
Dr Dani Gordon has treated thousands of patients using an integrative medicine approach including cannabis medicine.
She ran a cannabis medicine complex chronic disease referral practice in Canada and is now considered a leading expert in cannabis medicine.
She says one thing she is important to stress, is that CBD is not a permanent cure and there are many factors involved when taking CBD.
She said: “I think it’s important to recognise and to be clear that CBD is not a cure. It can help with symptoms of many complex chronic illnesses because it works on our endocannabinoid systems which may be hypo or under functioning in conditions like fibromyalgia.
“Taking CBD oil will not cure fibro permanently, you have to keep taking it to get the benefit and it depends on many things like the product taken, the dose and how much THC if or any the product has in it. The dose varies from person to person because everyone’s endocannabinoid system is slightly different.
“CBD is one of hundreds of active ingredients in the cannabis plant. It is one of the most well known because it is very safe for most people. It’s non toxic and you can take very large amounts of it without it doing anything bad to you as long as the product is good quality and it is not contaminated with pesticide or heavy metals.
“It’s possible for someone who has an array of chronic symptoms like anxiety, fibromyalgia, sleeping problems, mental health concerns, that they may see some subjective benefit of taking over the counter CBD oil. If you were going to treat real medical diseases using CBD you would use a medical product where you have a little bit of THC as well. That would only be by prescription.”
The CBD wellness products you see on the shelves vary in quality and potency and don’t contain any measurable THC – the other main compound in cannabis.
Dr Gordon said: “You can find CBD infused with foods and beverages but usually these have very small amounts and you won't have any clinical effect but some may claim they feel less stressed or more relaxed but its very subjective and the doses used are far far below anything used in a clinical study.
“Usually drugs from pharmaceutical companies contain a single agent and they treat a very specific pathway in the body. CBD if purchased as a full spectrum oil also contains the other minor cannabinoids that are non intoxicating. All these chemicals can affect the brain and body, contributing to things like anti inflammatory effect and anti stress effect potentially.
“It’s not more or less effective than any one drug used to cure a disease. You’re not trying to use CBD to cure things, there’s no proof yet that CBD can cure cancer, though we have some promising early results in the lab and in animal models that it has a strong anticancer effect in some specific cancer types at a very high dosage. CBD is not a cure but its a very useful supplement because it does so many things in our body in our endocannabinoid systems that are involved in our sleep wake cycles, our metabolism, our stress levels, response to fear and it even has strong anti seizure effects.
“I think perceptions towards CBD are changing. People are more open to CBD than cannabis, although they are from the same plant.”
Professor Michael Barnes, is a founder of the medical cannabis clinicians society and neurologist. He was also the first doctor to successfully negotiate prescription medicinal cannabis from the government in the famous case of Alfie Dingley.
“It is very useful as a treatment for conditions such as anxiety, pain and epilepsy in its own right and helpful as well in combination with the THC part of the plant for many other conditions including bowel problems (such as Crohns disease), appetite stimulation and fibromyalgia.
“It is very safe and very effective for the conditions above and others. It is in many ways preferable to use a simple and safe medicine rather than a pharmaceutical product with many side effects. However, it always wise to consult with a doctor before using to help with dose, etc.
“Mainly it is a medicine that helps symptoms and doesn't cure diseases. So that is important to emphasis.”