The “CBD Nation,” now available on Amazon and VOD

As more and more states (and countries) legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. So has the conversation over CBD grown exponentially. CBD Nation tackles the potential therapeutic applications.  The marijuana’s non-high-producing compound from numerous angles.  While its inquiry is far from comprehensive, its detriment nonetheless.  Adding to a growing chorus of voices contending that CBD is a safe, effective and possibly revolutionary treatment for a variety of ailments.

As with last year’s Waldo on Weed, Tommy Avallone’s portrait of a Pennsylvania couple that risked imprisonment.  By procuring and giving CBD to their eye cancer-stricken infant son.  Writer/director David Jakubovic’s documentary (on Amazon and VOD) is most compelling when it focuses on real-life examples.  The magical benefits provided by the cannabidiol compound.  Which unlike THC, does not leave one stoned. Rylie Maedler threatened by a fierce bone tumor.  As horrifying facial scans illustrate was literally eating away at her skull, causing her cheeks to slouch, and her teeth to fall out. Faced with a fatal prognosis, Rylie’s mother Janie began giving Rylie CBD, and the effects were nothing short of astounding.  Eliminating the remainder of her post-surgery tumor, restoring her facial bone structure, and improving her general health and well-being.

The problem

Is that it was illegal in Delaware for Rylie to take CBD, which meant she had to sneak off school grounds each day just to pop her pills. When her regimen produced phenomenal results, she took action, convincing the Delaware state legislature to pass Rylie’s Law.  Which allows kids under the age of 18 to use medical marijuana-based oils to treat conditions such as epilepsy and dystonia. With participation from both Rylie and Janie, CBD Nation persuasively casts this story as a prime example of the upside of CBD. Rylie’s own heartbreaking commentary about her ordeal.  She breaks down in tears, while recounting how the alienated by her classmates.  For choosing to take this supposedly shady product, reinforces the impression that knee-jerk negative attitudes toward CBD only hurt those who most need it.

Key to the pro-CBD argument

Its many conceivable treatment functions for a wide swath of infirmities.  Like glaucoma and asthma to nausea, seizures, pain and appetite-related conditions.  The fact that it has no apparent side effects. In other words, at best, it’s a miracle cure, and at worst, it’s a harmless balm.  Meaning that there’s little danger in trying it out for calamitous conditions. For those in dire straits. Jaylen who experiences horrific non-stop seizures. After use of CBD the seizures subsided.  The choice is not only clear, but difficult to object to in any serious fashion. And given that Jason himself has since opened a CBD dispensary, one can assume that he truly believes in what he’s selling.

It’s unfortunate then, that CBD Nation tackles its topic in scattershot fashion. That’s felt most pressingly in a couple of anecdote driven vignettes that are at once believable, and yet inconclusive from a medical standpoint. Twentysomething Sio Rodriguez talks about how CBD alleviated her depression and anxiety.  Which wasn’t improved by Zoloft, Klonopin, Xanax, Wellbutrin and other prescribed meds.  Afghanistan war vet Colin Wells discusses how his homemade CBD oil has helped him. His fellow former soldiers, whom he meets with regularly on Southern California hikes cope with crippling PTSD. Both are no doubt being honest about their experiences. But with scant scientific evidence to back up their claims, they come across as frustratingly circumstantial.

CBD Nation also offers up a wealth of medical-professional

They make a forceful argument for investigating CBD’s prospective value, such as Dr. Sari Prutchi Sagiv, director of Tech Transfer at Israel’s Mor Research.  Details how CBD helped seriously ill patients in a clinical trial overcome their graft versus host disease.  Which materializes when transplanted bone marrow attacks its new body. Often, though, these medical professionals’ credentials are of a vague sort.  Their commentary merely reinforces the basic notion that CBD might be the answer to everything under the sun. With no contrarian figures featured, and meager definitive evidence supporting their statements.  The film sometimes feels weakest whenever one of its experts is on screen. And not helping matters is that such figures’ interviews do the analytical heavy-lifting here; few concrete statistics are employed by Jakubovic to bolster his logical, if still largely unproven, thesis.


The idea is that we’re fundamentally built to interact with cannabis, and that such a symbiotic relationship explains why CBD appears to remedy an enormous number of unrelated disorders.

That said, the director does lay out how certain government sanctioned reports, from the past half century have concluded that cannabinoids have promising medicinal uses.  As the 2017 National Academy of Science report declared the legal barriers to cannabis research are “a public health problem.” Equally informative is a passage about the biological means by which cannabinoids seamlessly interact with the human body’s receptors.  A process duplicated by the body itself, which produces almost 100 compounds that act in the same beneficial way as cannabinoids. The idea is that we’re fundamentally built to interact with cannabis.  In such a symbiotic relationship explains why CBD appears to remedy an enormous number of unrelated disorders.

By jumping around from one point of interest to another rather than providing a thorough history lesson. The current landscape, CBD Nation plays as more of a useful addendum than a definitive examination. Its haphazard nature is epitomized by director Jakubovic’s decision to preface a segment on PTSD. There’s no doubt that CBD is a booming business, and may very well be an answer to the prayers of those suffering from persistent and seemingly incurable maladies. Jakubovic’s documentary, however, is just a serviceable gateway into more in-depth inquiries into the subject.