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Session 253: Common Cannabis Misconceptions

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

As cannabis consumption continues to be prevalent, it’s imperative that we understand the science behind the plant. What is cannabis and how does it interact with our minds and bodies? And, what do we need to be mindful of when using cannabis to protect ourselves and those around us? This week I was joined by Neuroscientist and Professor Dr. Yasmin Hurd. During our conversation we explored the different properties in cannabis, the difference between CBD & THC, and what new important research is being done today centered around cannabis usage.


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Session 253: Common Cannabis Misconceptions

Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 253 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get right into our conversation after a word from our sponsors.


Dr. Joy: As cannabis consumption continues to be prevalent in black communities, it's imperative that we understand the science behind the plant. What is cannabis and how does it interact with our minds and bodies? And what do we need to be mindful of when using cannabis to protect ourselves and those around us? In this week's session, I speak with neuroscientist and professor, Dr. Yasmin Hurd. During our conversation, we explored the different properties in cannabis, the difference between CBD and THC, and what new important research is being done today centered around cannabis usage.

If something resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession or join us over in the Sister Circle to talk more in depth about the episode. You can join us at Here's our conversation.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining me today, Dr. Hurd.

Dr. Hurd: Nice being here. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Joy: I was wondering if you could get us started by talking to us about the research that you conduct and how you got started in conducting research related to CBD.

Dr. Hurd: The research I conduct relates to trying to understand what everybody calls addiction and related psychiatric illnesses. I had been studying the developmental effects of cannabis for many years in addition to studying the neurobiology of heroin effects on the brain. When we looked in adults that had heroin use disorders, we tried to look at what are some risk factors. We looked at genetics of course, environment, and one thing was also looking at early exposure to cannabis, whether that be prenatal or adolescent exposure.

In our animal models, when we want to study the neurobiology, we normally use THC to look at the effects of cannabis and we would invariably see that animals, for example, would self-administer more heroin. Didn’t matter if their friends or mothers or other rats would do that. Behavioral traits made a difference but I wanted to at least say we were always saying that THC was cannabis and I said let's at least study another cannabinoid just to make sure. When we gave CBD, it was surprising, we actually saw a different effect than we saw with THC. CBD cannabidiol actually reduced the animal's heroin seeking behavior and that became my path into studying CBD.

We replicated our studies in our animal models and then I wanted to see if CBD could do the same in humans because there are a lot of animal studies for research that never really translate to the human and become therapy. When we run our clinical trials, it actually did the same thing; it reduced heroin craving in individuals who had a heroin use disorder. I became like the face of CBD, ironically, because no one was studying CBD at that time. When we started thinking that this could be a potential treatment for substance use disorders, at least for opiate use disorders, I've been trying to understand its effects on the brain ever since.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for sharing that. I am fascinated. I don't know a lot about animal studies and then how that translates to what happens with humans, but can you say a little bit more about like how often is it that something we see that works in an animal study translates to working in humans?

Dr. Hurd: It's rare, I will tell you, and that's the problem that we have. Especially for psychiatric disorders I'm talking about in particular. Animal models and so on are very important to understand the mechanisms by which certain drugs may act on the brain or understanding the biology of certain behaviors. But to translate it to developing medicine? Less than 5%. It really is that rare. When I saw the effects that it in fact replicated what we saw in our animal models, it gave me hope and that's why I started to promote that perhaps we should be studying CBD. Unfortunately, it’s gotten very complicated because now CBD is sold everywhere and it's in the water and their coffee. For me, I thought that it could be a potential medicine and that could have such huge impact.

Dr. Joy: You used another word that I want you to tell us a little bit more about. You said something about a cannabinoid, what is that?

Dr. Hurd: Thanks. The cannabis plant is extremely complex. It's made up of over 140 cannabinoids. Many people know THC–that's the cannabinoid, that's the most prominent cannabinoid in the plant and that's the cannabinoid that makes you feel the high that's associated with the euphorigenic effects of cannabis. That also is what we know is associated with the mental health challenges that we see in certain cannabis users. But cannabidiol, CBD, is another cannabinoid, it's just at a much lower concentration in the plant. At least in the original plant, and it’s even lower now in the plants that are on the street. The plants on the streets are not the original plants, they have been genetically modified to give much higher concentrations of THC. And inadvertently, they’ve reduced CBD in the plant, which actually in a way was a buffer (in one sense you could say) to THC. There are other chemicals in the plant as well, often people hear of terpenes, but THC and CBD are cannabinoids.

Dr. Joy: Got it. You mentioned you hear about CBD kind of all over the place now. But there are others and I'm guessing these are also cannabinoids–cannabis and hemp, are those also other cannabinoids?

Dr. Hurd: THC is the cannabinoid within cannabis and hemp is a cannabis strain that doesn't have much THC in it. In fact, it's the opposite, it has more CBD. Because it has like less than 0.3% THC, hemp now is legal throughout the country. But cannabis is still illegal federally and is still considered a Schedule 1 drug. Cannabis and hemp are the plants and THC and CBD are the cannabinoids within those plants.

Dr. Joy: Got it, okay. From your research, how do people typically get into cannabis use?

Dr. Hurd: The one thing about cannabis today is that it’s so pervasive in our society. But even before today, and it's not just cannabis... Many people say, oh, cannabis has been around for thousands of years. All the other drugs have also been around for thousands of years, except for the new ones that we’ve synthesized. Mostly it's in the US, there's been a long history with cannabis. Even the term marijuana (which came actually from Mexico) and the prejudice that was made in terms of, oh, marijuana and those Mexicans are crazy, and it became this negative thing of the Mexicans are bringing marijuana into our country. And then it became stop the kids in the 60s who were for peace, and then black people were smoking cannabis and, you know, the war on drugs. A lot of it came from trying to demonize cannabis.

But I think cannabis in our society, many people started using it like alcohol because it didn't lead to overdoses like opioids and it just became, you know, you have all these terms from marijuana, from weed, it just became kind of a norm. Even though it has been penalized so much, especially for black and brown people where so many people are locked up in prison because of having cannabis on their body, things like that. Now that we've come kind of full circle where everybody thinks that it should be legalized, many people think it's a benign drug, many people think it's like alcohol, and so you have now this promotion of cannabis use where you see advertisements even for CBD (and I separate cannabis from CBD). But I think that it's a drug, along with alcohol and cigarettes, that many teens would be exposed to first. This is when they start experimenting and figuring out for themselves in part and it's just become part of the norm in our society, so it's basically everywhere.

Dr. Joy: You know, the other thing that I've heard a lot, Dr. Hurd, is around cannabis being like a gateway drug. I'd love to hear from you. Is this true and what is a gateway drug?

Dr. Hurd: A gateway drug, I think the term is misused from what the initial authors of that term really had meant. Basically, is that the use of one drug will then lead you to use another drug. Usually the first drug is something more of a social, not so hard drug, and that leads you to then take a harder drug like heroin or cocaine. When you look at the pathway that many adults who have a substance use disorder, when you look at their drug history, many of them started off with cannabis. They also started with alcohol or nicotine, so that's why those drugs are considered gateway drugs in that context.

But it doesn't mean that if you use cannabis, that automatically you're going to develop a heroin use disorder or a cocaine use disorder. The epidemiological studies do say that there is a link between especially early and frequent cannabis use and subsequently developing another substance use disorder. I will say that the data shows that nearly 90% of adults with a substance use disorder started off during adolescence with substance use. That time period during adolescence is the time period of vulnerability where that gateway hypothesis stemmed. That's why I think that we do pay a lot of attention to teen use of drugs, whether it's alcohol or cannabis, just because that's the time period that it makes them more vulnerable.

Dr. Joy: It seems really interesting, because I don't know that I have heard alcohol being described as a gateway drug. But it sounds like from what you're saying, in a lot of ways they are kind of on par, so both cannabis and alcohol tend to be connected to later drug usage.

Dr. Hurd: Yeah. Cannabis, alcohol and cigarettes are considered gateway drugs. I think just because of the optics–cannabis being the illegal drug while cigarettes and alcohol are socially legal–that's why cannabis, perhaps the term gateway, people in regular society thought of it that way and promoted it that way. But all three of those drugs because these are drugs that are more accessible perhaps to teens. Even though those drugs are illegal for teens to use but if something is in society for adults, it’s going to find its way to teens. But all three of them are considered gateway drugs.

Dr. Joy: When we talk about gateway, is there something happening biologically that indicates, okay, you would need a different kind of substance to maybe get that same kind of a high, or is it more related to something else?

Dr. Hurd: That's why the research that I did tried to look at that. When you look at humans and human studies, they're very complicated to go for this gateway, on a neurobiological level. Why? Because sometimes teens who eventually do develop a disorder to cocaine or heroin use, they were around the people who were selling the drugs. Many people think that the drug dealers start them off on cannabis but then move them to go buy heroin or something, or the friends that they have, the environment that they're in. The animal models actually help us to see what is the neurobiology–irrespective of your friends, irrespective of your mother, your father. And when we do look at the animal models, we do see that early exposure in life to THC does increase the sensitivity to like opioids and psychostimulants, cocaine or something, later in life. It does change the brain to further being more sensitive to those drugs.

For example, in our animal models, the adults with actually even prenatal exposure to cannabis or adolescent exposure to cannabis, they self-administered more heroin when given a choice. We know neurobiologically that there is a sensitivity. But just like humans, not every animal will do that so we know that behavioral traits also make a difference. We also know that stress also makes a difference. The stress in combination makes this difference and that's why, again, our society and certain communities have a lot of stress in them and those combinations make it challenging for mental health. People start to self-medicate and then they find themselves going down a path that they normally wouldn't.

Dr. Joy: What does THC actually do to the brain and body?

Dr. Hurd: THC binds to our natural cannabinoid receptors in our brains and body. Actually, our cannabinoid receptor is one of the most prominent abundant receptors in our brain. And in our brain, it regulates many different systems because it's so abundant. (I'm gonna get very sciency.) From our cortex, that cognition, learning and memory, it's a part of the brain called like the hippocampus. Memory, the part of our brain that deals with motor coordination, emotional regulation. All of those things, when we have THC in our bodies, it can bind to those receptors and modulate those things. In the body, we have a lot of cannabinoid receptors as well so we know that our endogenous cannabinoid system is very critical because it's really integrated in the functioning of so many things. Not just our brain, but also other organs and our immune system.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Dr. Hurd after the break.


Dr. Joy: What happens to our cannabinoid receptors if we're not actually consuming THC or CBD or something else? Like what happens to them naturally?

Dr. Hurd: You will hear that, oh, I use cannabis but because we have natural cannabis receptors. Yes, we have these cannabinoid receptors but we have natural cannabinoid ligands in our brain and body so we naturally make these substances. But we make them at very low concentrations, and that's the difference. When we consume cannabis and THC, it actually is like this huge hammer. If you think of this little tiny pin that your natural cannabinoid ligands, the natural cannabis chemicals in your body and your brain would normally just like tap them lightly. Then now you have cannabis which is a huge hammer that then hits them very hard, those receptors.

Our natural cannabinoid chemicals in our body are critical for regulating all these systems normally. But over a certain concentration, that's where the challenge is–and that's the issue with mental health, for example. Why does high dose THC induce like psychosis? Why? And yes, definitely more in some individuals that have a genetic vulnerability. It's because cannabis, and especially the synthetic cannabis, because they bind to our natural receptors much tighter and they produce a much stronger effect. And that's what causes disruption of the cells because the cells aren't used to having this hammer hit it like that.

Dr. Joy: Got it. You are really taking us back to like science 101 today, I feel like I'm learning so much! We do know that CBD, it seems like, typically has a more calming effect on the brain and the body. How else does CBD make us feel and what can it be used for?

Dr. Hurd: CBD is a very interesting cannabinoid and I'm fascinated by it. One of the things that it’s important to know, it doesn't bind to the cannabinoid receptor like the THC does. Not in the same way. It actually even works as an antagonist to even block part of the THC effects. We're all trying to figure out how CBD acts on the brain but we do know that instead of having this hammer effect, it has small effects at many different sites. Those small effects but in multiple systems is perhaps why we don't see that CBD has really bad side effects like we see obviously with THC. And CBD, we're still again trying to figure out what does it do? We know from our studies and from other people who have replicated our studies and looked in other populations, we know that CBD reduces anxiety. We're trying to figure out how does it do that? We know other researchers and a number of groups have shown that CBD actually reduces psychosis. We're trying to figure out how does it do that? We know it can improve sleep. But again, we're all trying to figure out the dose and the timing of how CBD is doing some of these things.

There are also people trying to study CBD. We have a project starting soon with pain. I don't know if CBD is really going to be as effective for pain without having some THC there. But these are things that have to be studied in order to understand what concentration, what dose of CBD, is effective for different conditions because one dose is not going to be effective for all conditions we know that CBD might be effective for. We still have a long way to go, I think, to finding out the dosing. The only FDA approved use of CBD is for two childhood forms of epilepsy, rare forms of epilepsy. And so there, they have characterized the doses and so on but those are very high doses.

Dr. Joy: Okay. Please forgive me if I butcher the science behind this, but what I hear you saying is that CBD does not act on our cannabinoid receptors in the same way that THC does, and that it may actually be acting on other receptors in other parts of the body besides just the cannabinoid receptors.

Dr. Hurd: Exactly, you got it right.

Dr. Joy: And when I hear you say that you're studying and other people are studying, like we know that it does kind of manage anxiety or helps to decrease those symptoms, is it acting in the same way as an anti-anxiety medication would work or differently?

Dr. Hurd: There are some things that we see that it has in common. For example, our endogenous serotonin, it’s a neurotransmitter that's really linked to depression and anxiety. CBD actually works as an agonist as one of those receptors, so we know that it tweaks the serotonin system as well. That may be one of the reasons why it has certain anti-anxiety properties. As I said, the research is long in order to figure out why CBD has some of these effects. But the one thing we do know, unlike THC, it doesn't produce intoxication. It's not addictive. When I hear people tell me they got CBD and they got so high or something as teenagers would say, I know that they did not take CBD. That's one of the things that people have to be careful because they're selling CBD and putting something else in there. We have to be very careful about where you obtain your CBD from. The FDA, they have had a number of groups run many different high doses of CBD to try to see if indeed it is addictive, and even the animal models, it does not show that sign at all.

Dr. Joy: You've already mentioned a couple of times how problematic it is that we're not really even using like the original plant anymore and so who knows what kinds of things people are adding. So even when you do like your own research, how is the CBD (or whatever substance) made?

Dr. Hurd: I work with pharmaceutical companies that make what's called GMP. It's like when you go to the pharmacy and you would buy your medication, you know that every single tablet is made the same, is pure, a certain grade, and meets a certain level of it doesn't have intoxicants in there–it doesn't have lead, it doesn't have mold. We work with companies that make sure that we have high quality “medicinal” levels of CBD because that's what we want to, in the long run, develop. To really have products out there, not me, I'm not going to be making certainly the money from it, but we want companies to develop products just like any other medicine.

I always say you go into the pharmacy and you pick up a bottle of aspirin, you know exactly what the dosage is. It tells you on the label and you know when to expect, how long it would last. Aspirin came from the bark of a tree, a willow tree. We isolated the active ingredient which was aspirin. There are perhaps other things in the bark of the tree that might increase or decrease its actions, but we know exactly what the active ingredient was and that's what's in every tablet that you get. You know exactly the dose and that's what I want for CBD. If it's going to be medicine, it should have that quality that you go into a pharmacy, you know exactly what is in each of those capsules and you know what to expect. And even what side effects to expect, even just when it might alleviate your anxiety or whatever it may turn out to be beneficial for.

Dr. Joy: Dr. Hurd, are you finding that there is still stigma that exists related to CBD even though it feels like it's kind of everywhere right now?

Dr. Hurd: I think that there is in some groups and that's why there is still obviously this push for federal... Like cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug and so on because people don't realize the difference between CBD and cannabis. It's not cannabis. It may be a cannabinoid that comes from the cannabis plant or the hemp plant for those people who get it directly from hemp, but it's not cannabis and that's why I want us to call it different names. Some people think, oh, they're just trying to legalize cannabis by CBD. And some people did, don't get me wrong. I think the people who really promoted a lot of the state legalization use CBD for medicinal cannabis and for epilepsy. But I think the stigma of cannabis comes onto CBD for some groups of people who want to think that people just want to get high, and that's not the case.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Dr. Hurd after the break.


Dr. Joy: What other kinds of like mental health concerns are being explored that could be helped by CBD?

Dr. Hurd: In addition to the anxiety and our research also on opiate use disorders, other people are looking at other substance use disorders as well. For alcohol, there's some work, even nicotine. Psychosis. Now there are some really nice studies from England where they've looked at people who, in high probability, will develop schizophrenia and it's called a prodromal state. And all of us, for every disease, just like cancer, we want to try to get people early. And they've given CBD to some of these young people and shown that CBD does in fact decrease the progression to schizophrenia. Those are the things. So psychosis, there's also research being done with depression, to me it’s more of the anxiety sphere. But who knows if the dosing may make a difference for the different disorders. Those I think are the strongest mental health related indications that a lot of groups... And obviously anxiety and PTSD, it goes without saying. PTSD is a big area that a number of research studies are being conducted with.

Dr. Joy: Can CBD be harmful for anyone? Is there anyone who should be mindful of not even taking anything with CBD?

Dr. Hurd: I think most people should always be cautious. Again, this is the researcher in me and the neuroscientist, where there's not a lot of data, even though people think it's been around for thousands of years. Everything has been around for thousands of years, it's just that we haven't really studied it. What we see with CBD, the most side effects (especially with higher doses) is more your GI tract, your gastrointestinal, diarrhea, so on. It obviously can make you sleep, so no driving if you take high doses of CBD. If you have epilepsy, we do see that the liver enzyme... The drugs that we take are metabolized in our body and excreted out and your liver breaks down and metabolizes these in your kidney and gets rid of it through urine and so on. But if people have liver problems, they may not metabolize CBD in a way that you might have too much or so on, and if they have like anti-epileptic medications that also will have issues with the liver.

Another thing is that we still don't know the interaction with other medications and it comes back to the metabolism again. We all metabolize things differently due to our genetics and so on and some medications, they will overlap with the enzymes that metabolize CBD or CBD may inhibit those enzymes that metabolize your benzodiazepine, for example. People think that CBD is benign, neutral, but it's an active ingredient that is active in your body. You have to make sure, if you're taking any other medication, that it doesn't interact in how that medication is metabolized. It might help to speed up the metabolism of that drug or decrease the metabolism and people then might even increase the side effect of the other drug that they're taking. Things like that, I think, are really important for people to understand.

Dr. Joy: You've already talked earlier about how cannabis can be related to things like memory concerns. Sometimes you see some schizophrenia kinds of things or maybe psychotic kinds of symptoms. Are there other things we should be concerned about, as it relates to cannabis and our mental health?

Dr. Hurd: Cannabis and mental health is a huge, huge topic. Especially for the developing brain, and that's what I have focused on, as I mentioned in the beginning. We don't know why, but for cannabis at least, the developing brain is much more sensitive than the adult brain, that's why we see the greater sensitivity to psychosis than adults. We've done studies with prenatal exposure to cannabis. In moms, we studied moms and their kids, and our animal models, and we do see emotional differences in their kids, greater stress reactivity in their kids, and all of those things increase mental health risk. Mental health risk is exacerbated by stress and we have such high stress in our communities today that that combination (to me) to the developing brain and mental health vulnerability is really important.

Dr. Joy: You know, Dr. Hurd, as I’m listening to you talk, it often seems like when I hear people's experiences of using cannabis, they feel mostly positive about the experiences. I'm aware that unlike maybe something like alcohol where you kind of have these hangovers where you can't get to work in the morning, you're having difficulty focusing, it doesn't seem like cannabis has maybe some of those same levels of side effects. How would someone know if they're actually struggling with like cannabis addiction or that there may be some concern about the level of cannabis they're consuming?

Dr. Hurd: The same thing with alcohol, it comes back to the amount of use. What you’ve described. People periodic, they go to a party perhaps or on a weekend or so on and they have a joint or so. That's not what the issue is. The issue is with people will wake up, the first thing, the next hour, throughout the day, even before bed, and that they can't stop. When they stop, they have many negative emotional effects. And even aggression, the anger, even sometimes the sweating. Cannabis use disorder, actually, about 30% of people who use cannabis regularly will develop a cannabis use disorder–a diagnostic disorder. It's like many other drugs and finding the cannabis, consuming the cannabis, takes up a lot of their time, and this is despite that they need to go to work or it can impact on their work or so on. That they can't stop using and it's not just, like I said, the periodic use where they feel happy.

It's important also to understand that not all cannabis is the same. The cannabis that has a low THC concentration is not the major issue. We forget the 60s, 70s, 80s, even 90s, 2000s, you had like 4% THC in cannabis. Today it's 15 to 24%. And for a lot of kids, they *[inaudible 0:33:59] which gives like 70-90% THC. That is not cannabis. That's a completely different drug, so they are like knocked out. That’s one of the things why cannabis is very challenging, because indeed, you can have the “recreational” cannabis but you also have the hardcore cannabis that has very high THC. To me, when someone tries to stop, one, they have to keep using. Two, they try to stop and they're not able to stop, they have a lot of the anxiety they can’t sleep, the anger, just like any other drug withdrawal symptoms in one part. Then you know the person has a challenge with cannabis and may be developing a cannabis use disorder.

Dr. Joy: I’d also love to hear your thoughts about edibles. We know that there are all kinds of like gummies and brownies and all kinds of different ways that you can consume. Now what is typically in an edible? Is there typically cannabis, CBD or something else?

Dr. Hurd: It's usually cannabis in edibles, usually THC, but now they make CBD edibles as well. That's one of the things also with kids in Colorado when they made cannabis legal. You never had kids having problems like emergency room problems, but they would take the gummy bears and so on that their parents had and would consume it and they definitely went to emergency room and they definitely had issues. One of the things also I forgot to mention with these high potency THC, cannabis, we see this hyperemesis, that they vomit a lot. The temperature of their bodies changes a lot. We're seeing that more and more and it's because of the high THC in cannabis. But for gummies for edibles, they can be anything and it's just that because when people consume them, usually the effects then come on a little later. People then didn't feel it and so then they start taking the next brownie or the next gummy bear. And so then the combination, they get a much higher response, they have like heart palpitations, they go through a lot of the physical issues of having too high THC in their bodies. That's sometimes the issues that people face with edibles.

Dr. Joy: Got it. What tips would you give for people who maybe are interested in learning more about cannabis use? Or is there a way that you can consume cannabis safely? What kinds of safety tips would you offer for people who are interested in either using or learning more about it?

Dr. Hurd: It's really tough because, even for me, when I look up the internet and I search to try to see like what kind of information is out there, the things on the internet are so deceptive. End of the day, I do think it depends on where you purchase your cannabis because you have to be sure that it doesn't have another product and it's safe and also you know what the concentration is. Even the dispensaries, they’ve done tests of the cannabis sold in some dispensaries and seen that the THC concentrations aren't even what they’ve put on the labels. But I think still purchasing from reputable places is the first step. Like everything else, use a low dose THC and not go for these higher THC concentrations that have become so prevalent, if indeed just a mild whatever is what you know you're looking for. And I do think at the end of the day, if you have and know you have a family risk of mental illness, I think that THC or cannabis is not recommended.

Dr. Joy: Okay. Something else that I forgot to ask you that I want to make sure to go back to you. You mentioned there are concerns, especially for a not fully developed brain. At what age is the brain considered fully developed?

Dr. Hurd: I think some people will tell you never for the men! Usually, it's somehow mid-twenties that the brain starts to reach full maturity. Even though we say 18, people can go to the military and 21 to drink and so on, it's actually a little longer than that. Definitely like mid-twenties before the brain reaches that level of maturity.

Dr. Joy: That is a specific concern, I think, which is why you see like on college campuses when people are finally out of their family’s home and then they're experimenting maybe with alcohol and other drugs, that is why this could be such a big concern there. Because the brain is not fully developed, typically at that age.

Dr. Hurd: Absolutely. I tell everybody, if you want to try everything, wait till... I don’t have kids myself and I tell my nephews and I used to tell my friends’ kids, wait to at least 25 and then you can try. It was like just give your brain time to develop.

Dr. Joy: Is there a lot of funding for the kind of work that you're doing, Dr. Hurd? And what kind of resources are needed, if not?

Dr. Hurd: When I started, I will tell you there was not a lot of funding. I was even told that the research I was doing, I should look at something else because cannabis isn't important or interesting. And definitely, why am I studying the developing brain? When I started studying CBD, nobody was studying it, I couldn't even get CBD to study in humans because it wasn't available. Today, because of the changes in our society and the legislations that have gone on across the country, there's a lot more funding from the National Institute of Health and in particular the National Institute of Drug Abuse, focused on cannabis and even CBD as a potential treatment. There are a number of studies that they are supporting in that realm.

It is very difficult to get other types of funding, unfortunately. It's still very challenging but at least now, there are a lot more researchers in the field looking at cannabis for many things. From its potential impact on the developing brain to its potential as a treatment for many different disorders. And not just CBD, I’m meaning cannabis itself and trying to understand its role, and can we develop it as a safe medication for a number of different indications. We'll see, but me personally, we need more research funds but that's the nature of the world that we have in science.

Dr. Joy: Of course. Dr. Hurd, where can we stay connected with you for people who maybe want to follow your research? Like what is your website as well as any social media handles you'd like to share?

Dr. Hurd: I'm really bad with that. On Twitter it’s @HurdLab. The one thing is that people can always email. I don't know if your audience will be really interested in a lot of the deep science papers that we have, but they're all online.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Hurd. I'm so glad Dr. Hurd was able to share her expertise with us today. To learn more about her and her work, be sure to visit the show notes at And be sure to text two of your girls and ask them to check out the episode right now. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at

And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet design just for black women. You can join us at This episode was produced by Fredia Lucas and Ellice Ellis, and editing was done by Dennison Bradford. Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

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Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here