CBD Oil is Gaining Popularity, But What Do We Really Know About It?
CBD oil is one of the newest, hottest products in states where medical marijuana is legal, and Arizona is no exception. It is said to have health benefits for a wide range of people who have trouble getting relief through traditional medicine. However, a late June decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals illegalized the sale of marijuana extracts–including CBD oil – and dealt a big blow to Arizona’s $425 million medical cannabis market.
In this post, we’ll explain what CBD oil is, what its uses and effect are, what the evidence is for its medical effectiveness, and we’ll get into the court decision as well.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD, the popular term for cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant. For many years, researchers have believed CBD could have therapeutic effects, and dispensaries around the country have been stocking their shelves with oils containing CBD in varying concentrations as the extract’s popularity has exploded in recent years.
Most CBD comes from hemp. Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant, but they are two very different products.
Does CBD “Get You High?”
When most people think of marijuana, they’re thinking of the psychoactive effects of a different compound present in cannabis: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It’s the THC that when broken down by heat (such as from smoking) enters the body and leads to the feeling of being “high.”
CBD, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effects. In other words, CBD does not affect the mind of the person who uses it.
What Are the Benefits of CBD?
Proponents of CBD claim it can be used to treat a host of ailments, ranging from epilepsy to inflammatory issues to trouble sleeping. But at this point, many experts say there is just not enough evidence to support many of the claims. And, as CBD’s popularity has gained, regulations have failed to keep up. Marcel Bonn-Miller, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, says the CBD market is “the Wild West,” where almost anyone can produce and sell it, leading to some very poor quality products.
The scientific evidence hasn’t come in on most of the purported benefits of CBD, but the one exception is epilepsy.
In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of severe epilepsy. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb went out of his way to stress that the approval of Epidiolex was not an approval of marijuana in general.
[Epidiolex] is a purified form of CBD. It’s being delivered to patients in a reliable dosage form and through a reproducible route of delivery to ensure that patients derive the anticipated benefits,” Gottlieb said. “This is the approval of one specific CBD medication for a specific use.”
Speaking to NBC News in June Gottlieb warned about the promotion of unapproved marijuana medicines, including those containing CBD, and said strong scientific studies must support the approval of any further marijuana-derived treatments.
Sparse Support For Other Uses
According to Dr. Bonn-Miller, more studies need to be done before popular claims about CBD can be verified. He says a couple of human studies have been done on CBD’s ability to treat anxiety, and the results were promising, but more data is needed.
Studies about CBD’s use as an anti-inflammatory have only been done on animals, with human testing still some time out.
Finally, claims about CBD’s effectiveness in treating things like depression or narcolepsy are at this point unverifiable. There have been only one or two human studies about CBD for these conditions, and those studies did not even have a control group to compare to–in other words, there was a group who used CBD, but no group who did not use CBD, so there was no way to truly tell whether the CBD users benefitted from the drug.
CBD Technically Illegal in Arizona
In the final week of June, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that cannabis extracts–sold in the vast majority of the state’s marijuana dispensaries–are illegal. That includes CBD oil. The Phoenix New Times has an excellent breakdown of the details of the decision.
It is estimated that up to 40 percent of Arizona’s marijuana business is based on extracts, leading some to comment that the industry’s survival is threatened by this decision.
Will cannabis extracts be pulled off the shelves? Gary Smith, president of the state’s Cannabis Bar Association doesn’t think so. He says businesses could file injunctions and request stays to prevent the ruling from being enforced. However, those businesses will not be able to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Only a man named Rodney Jones, the man whose case the Court of Appeals ruled on, can make that next appeal. Jones and his attorneys appear to have made no decision as of now.