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My husband recently mentioned to me that he is thinking of using cannabidiol (CBD) oil or pills for his back pain. He has been suffering from back pain for a while now and he’s been to numerous doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists to remedy the pain. However, it has been unsuccessful. A few people told him that CBD may help reduce inflammation and pain. It seems that CBD is widely used and you can easily find CBD products online. We have also heard about the United States legalizing hemp and Canada legalizing CBD products a little while ago. However, this doesn’t mean CBD can simply be legally included in foods, dietary supplements or therapeutic drugs. The CBD product industry is still new when it comes to regulation and we are in the process of still finding out the efficacy and side effects. My husband and I had little knowledge of what cannabidiol (CBD) is and what type of CBD products are available. Therefore, I have decided to research further. In this post, I share with you what CBD is used for, if it’s safe and what potential risks it has.
What Is Cannabidiol (CBD) And Where Does It Come From?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the 113 identified compounds called cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another major compound that is found in cannabis plants. THC causes the feeling of getting ‘high’. CBD is different from THC and does not provide the mind-altering effects of THC. Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to help relieve pain and other symptoms without the feeling you get from THC. Cannabis plants can be called both hemp or marijuana plants depending on the THC amount the cannabis plant contains. Hemp and marijuana are not referring to different species but two different names for cannabis plants. Hemp and marijuana plants are both cannabis plants but they are cultivated differently. These two plants contain different amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp is grown to produce a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content and a high CBD content. It is also grown primarily for use in industrial applications. Hemp contains 0.3 percent or less THC and marijuana contains more than 0.3 percent THC. Cannabidiol (CBD) can be derived from both hemp and marijuana plants which are both cannabis plants. However, hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD are different because hemp and marijuana plants have different THC content.
Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Legal?
CBD products that are derived from hemp which contains 0.3 percent or less THC are legal federally in the U.S. (If they are produced within the regulations defined by the law.) Since the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is not viewed as a controlled substance any more under the federal law while marijuana is treated as one.
For cultivating, processing, manufacturing, distributing, selling and/or purchasing or consuming marijuana or marijuana-derived products, they have to be permitted by the state laws. Each state has their own law when it comes to cannabidiol (CBD) and you have to follow the law of the states. There are states that do not allow marijuana-derived CBD. Some states allow marijuana-derived CBD only for medicinal use while some states allow marijuana-derived CBD also for recreational use. As of 2020, marijuana-derived CBD is legal for medicinal usage in a total of 47 states. Also, 10 states allow both marijuana and hemp for recreational and medicinal use. Please check your local legislation.
What is Cannabidiol (CBD) Used For?
Currently, FDA approved only one CBD prescription medicine called Epidiolex. Epidiolex is for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome and also for the treatment of seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex. FDA has not approved other CBD products so far. However, CBD products are often being sold as a relief for some symptoms. According to Dr. Hance Clarke (University Health Network), cannabidiol (CBD) now is widely used by people for all kinds of disease, in particular anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, depression. However, he also mentioned that although cannabidiol (CBD) is used for such medical symptoms, we don’t know if cannabidiol (CBD) is really good for these kind of diseases. There are some studies suggesting benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) in anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, inflammation due to arthritis and other symptoms. However, it seems that so far there is not enough high-quality evidence in human studies yet. According to the Harvard Health Publishing by the Harvard Medical School, we need more research about CBD’s medical claims. However, the article also mentioned that cannabidiol (CBD) may prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Here are some studies done for cannabidiol (CBD).
- A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, applying cannabidiol (CBD) on skin significantly reduced inflammation and pain in a rat. The study concluded that topical cannabidiol (CBD) application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects.
- A study showed that cannabinoids (CBD) suppresses persistent inflammatory pain in both mice and rats.
- A study revealed that cannabidiol (CBD) significantly decreased pro-inflammatory compounds in mice that trigger inflammation in the body.
- A study stated that almost 62% of cannabidiol (CBD) users reported using cannabidiol (CBD) to treat a medical condition. The top three medical conditions were pain, anxiety, and depression. Almost 36% of respondents reported that cannabidiol (CBD) treats their medical condition(s) very well by itself, while only 4.3% reported it didn’t treat their medical condition(s) very well.
- A 2019 study showed that topical treatment with CBD-enriched ointment significantly improved the skin of patients with inflammatory skin disorders.
- A 2019 study suggested that the cannabidiol (CBD) components of cannabis might be useful to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s Disease because cannabidiol (CBD) could suppress the main causal factors of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- There are also some studies that suggest cannabidiol (CBD) may help with cancer treatment. One study stated that clonogenic assay results showed substantially enhanced tumor cell killing when combining CBDs and radiotherapy (RT). Another study suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may help inhabit both cancer growth and spread. A 2020 study suggests that inclusion of cannabidiol (CBD) in conventional breast cancer chemotherapy may help with anticancer effect such as suppressing cancer cell growth and spread.
- A study showed that cannabidiol (CBD) decreased anxiety-related behaviours in mice. Another study showed CBD’s efficacy in reducing human’s anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders.
- There are also other studies about cannabidiol (CBD) may help with quitting smoking, type 1 diabetes, insomnia, acne and so on.
Are CBD Dietary Supplement And Non Prescription CBD products Legal?
Hemp-derived CDB is legal federally in the U.S. as mentioned above. However, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved only one CBD prescription medicine called Epidiolex so far. Currently, the FDA has not approved cannabidiol (CBD) dietary supplements and nonprescription CBD products. All new drugs in US and food that is not regulated by the USDA have to be approved by the FDA in the U.S. This can be confusing but simply this means while it is legal to buy or possess hemp-derived CBD in the US, it is illegal to sell cannabidiol (CBD) by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement or a drug without a FDA approval. According to the FDA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in over-the-counter products and does not consider these products safe without sufficient evidence. These products include a product sold as a dietary supplement and promoted on its label or in labeling as a treatment, prevention or cure for a specific disease or condition. The FDA stated that until they add CBD to the “generally recognized as safe” list, it will remain illegal to market and sell CBD-infused products as foods, drinks and supplements. FDA is aware of some companies selling CBD products without an approval and has warned them.
In Canada, consumers can buy CBD products such as edibles or topicals which are regulated by Health Canada. Cannabis is regulated in Canada by the Cannabis Act since Oct. 2019. Both hemp and marijuana are legal for both medical and recreational use in Canada. CBD and THC are both considered to be a controlled substance in Canada. Cannabidiol (CBD) is treated and regulated the exact same way that THC is treated. The Cannabis Act regulations do not distinguish between CBD derived from industrial hemp and CBD derived from cannabis with greater than 0.3% THC (marijuana). Cannabis plants are legal to cultivate from licensed seed or seedlings up to 4 plants per residence for personal use, possess and share up to 30 grams of legally acquired cannabis. Consumers must legally purchase cannabis from an approved, licensed provincial or territorial retailer or government-operated online stores and retail store. Adults can also make cannabis-infused food and drinks as long as organic solvents are not used to create those products. While the Cannabis Act applies to all of Canada, each province has their own laws and regulations. Therefore, procedures for retail sales and your ability to purchase cannabis may be different. Also, cannabidiol (CBD) is illegal unless it comes from a licensed producer. A licensed producer in Canada applicant must go through a screening process that is the toughest in the world for cannabis producers. There are limited licensed producers registered in Canada. CBD products that are sold at an unlicensed, unregulated retailers such as convenience stores or health food stores are illegal. If you are purchasing CBD products for medical reasons, you need a prescription from a healthcare practitioner. Health Canada’s regulations for new permitted classes of cannabis such as cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals went into effect and they became legal to sell and buy with restrictions in Canada in 2019. These products can be purchased in licensed provincial and territorial cannabis online and retail stores and federally licensed sellers of cannabis for medical purposes.
What Types Of Cannabidiol (CBD) Are There?
There are three types of cannabidiol (CBD) in the market: Full-spectrum, Broad-spectrum, Isolate. Full-spectrum contains compounds in the cannabis plant including THC (up to 0.3% THC). Broad-spectrum contains several compounds in the cannabis plant but free of THC. (Some broad-spectrum products may still have trace amounts of THC.) Isolate contains only the pure form of CBD.
What Form Does Cannabidiol (CBD) Come In?
Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Harmful?
Potential Harm and Unknowns of cannabidiol (CBD)
Currently, the FDA has not approved cannabidiol (CBD) used in food products as a dietary supplement or medical treatments except for one prescription medication. The FDA states that there are some potential harm and unknowns of CBD. They say they have seen only limited data about cannabidiol (CBD) safety and these data points to real risks that need to be considered before taking cannabidiol (CBD) for any reason. Some potential harm and unknowns of cannabidiol (CBD) include liver injury, negative interactions with alcohol, other drugs and medications, male reproductive toxicity, or damage to fertility in males or male offspring of women who have been exposed. The FDA mentions that there are also potential side effects of cannabidiol (CBD). The side effects include changes in alertness such as drowsiness or sleepiness, gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea and/or decreased appetite, changes in mood such as irritability and agitation.
It seems that the FDA is in the process of finding out effects and risks of cannabidiol (CBD) and further research is needed. For example, a 2019 study suggested that there may be links between CBD and liver damage. However, this study alone doesn’t confirm the linkage between the CBD and liver damage. Critics say this study doesn’t accurately represent human experience. This study was done with mice, not humans. Also, a mega dose was injected to the mice whereas people will normally not ingest the same amount of cannabidiol (CBD) as those mice were force-fed. A new study from Validcare, patient centered clinical research firm was conducted in response to the FDA’s requests. Clinical trials were done on 839 human participants to analyze and evaluate the impact of cannabidiol (CBD) on liver health. According to the study, CBD products do not cause liver damage when taken orally. To find out if cannabidiol (CBD) has positive effects on medical symptoms or negative effects on health, FDA can’t conclude CBD’s safety without sufficient data and they are still finding out. With limited data and the lack of regulation on CBD products, there may be some risks whether some CBD products (that are currently being sold without a FDA approval) have safe, appropriate efficacy and dosage for a medical condition or as a supplement.
Inaccurate Labeling And Potential Harmful Contamination
There is also a risk that consumers cannot be sure what the products actually contain. Most CBD products sold in U.S. is not approved by the FDA and they are being sold unregulated. They may be inaccurately labeled and their labels do not match what the products actually contain. The products can contain less or more amount of CBD than what the product claims to contain. They can be also contaminated with THC, pesticides, harmful heavy metals and so on.
According to the article by CBS, the lab tested the top-selling 240 CBD products for 300 contaminants and for truth in labeling. 70 percent of products were found highly contaminated with heavy metals like lead and arsenic, herbicides like glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp) and pesticides, BPA and toxic mold. Also, several products claimed to have cannabidiol (CBD) on the label where they found no cannabidiol (CBD) in them. There were also CBD products that contained five, six times more of cannabidiol (CBD) than their label said.
The article by the Colorado State University also stated the concerns about the possible contaminations of hemp with pesticides, heavy metals, microbial pathogens, and carcinogenic compounds during the cultivation, manufacturing, and packaging processes. In their analysis, heavy metals have been found in Cannabis plants and products made with Cannabis (e.g. tinctures and oils). The heavy metals include cadmium, lead, magnesium, copper, and mercury. The contamination is likely to come from the cultivation of Cannabis in contaminated soils. Also, their analysis stated that a study shows that 69% of 84 CBD products purchased from 31 American online retailers were inaccurately labeled for cannabidiol (CBD). 26% those CBD products were overlabeled whereas 42% were underlabeled for CBD concentration. Some exceeded the 0.3% legal limit of THC content.
When cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted, it may have pesticide residues if a pesticide was used during cultivation of hemp. In 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the pesticides for use in hemp cultivation after hemp was legalized in 2018. EPA sets the maximum amount of a pesticide residue allowed in or on a food. However, there are no specific tolerances (the maximum amount of pesticide residue that is allowed to remain on the crop) for hemp or marijuana currently. Also, the EPA cannot recognize non-hemp cannabis as a legal crop due to its prohibition under federal law and the use of pesticides on non-hemp cannabis is not regulated by the US EPA.
Interaction With Other Drugs
Another thing to caution about cannabidiol (CBD) is that it can interfere with other medications. According to the Harvard Health Publishing, cannabidiol (CBD) can increase levels of certain medications in your body the exact same way that grapefruit juice does. FDA says that grapefruit can let more of the drug enter the blood which can increase side effects. Grapefruit juice can interact and cause problems with some drugs for high blood pressure, some drugs for lowering cholesterol, some drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms, some corticosteroids, some anti-anxiety drugs, some organ-transplant rejection drugs, and some antihistamines according to the FDA. Therefore, you should consult with your doctor before taking CBD products.
World Health Organization says, “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications…there’s no known addiction potential associated with CBD.
Why Choose Organic?
Choosing an organic CBD products can be important since it can help you ensure the CBD oil you choose does not contain harmful chemical residues. Also, you can ensure that the label you see on the CBD products state what they actually contain. One way to ensure the CBD products are not contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals or other harmful substances is to look for certified organic hemp. According to the USDA, hemp may be certified organic if produced in accordance with the USDA organic regulations. For example, hemp producers have to ensure no prohibited fertilizers or pesticides have been used in the land that hemp is raised for three years. Harmful chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers can drain the soil of its natural nutrients. USDA certified organic products must be grown or produced with no synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, chemical additives, preservatives, colorings, and more.
Can I Have CBD Products Ship From Canada To U.S.?
Since CBD products are regulated in Canada, some people may want to order CBD products from Canada into the U.S. CBD products including edibles, extracts and topicals are controlled by Health Canada and the Cannabis Act. In Canada, a licensed producer applicants must go through a screening process that is the toughest in the world for cannabis producers. CBD products are only legal if purchased from authorized online or retailer. However, according to the Canada Border Service Agency, transporting cannabis across the border in any form – including any oils containing THC or cannabidiol (CBD) – without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada remains a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada. It’s illegal to transport any cannabis products across the US-Canada border. Therefore, do not carry CBD products when crossing any borders. Also, the government of Canada states that receiving or sending cannabis in any form into or out of Canada by mail or courier is also illegal. How about getting CBD products from US to Canada? Currently, U.S. hemp companies are required to meet Canada’s strict requirements for manufacturing, labeling, import permits, product registration and approval, and testing to sell U.S. hemp in Canada. Not many U.S. companies meet these requirements. Unapproved products cannot be shipped to Canada. Unauthorized purchases from outside Canada (online or other) will be confiscated at the border.
I didn’t know much about cannabidiol (CBD) before this research and I was surprised to find that most CBD products being sold online or in retail stores in the U.S. are not approved by the FDA. Although hemp-derived CBD is legal federally in U.S. and even marijuana-derived CBD is legal for medicinal or recreational use in some states, that doesn’t mean CBD products currently selling in the market are authorized to be sold. That means although it is legal for consumers to buy and possess hemp-derived CBD, consumers run the risk of buying unregulated products. There are potential risks of getting CBD products that are mislabeled or contaminated with harmful metals or pesticides. Without proper regulation, consumers can not be sure of safe, appropriate dosage and efficacy for a medical condition or as a supplement. Unregulated products can have untested formulas and inconsistent content. CBD products are getting more popular and they are often used for relief of chronic pain and other symptoms. Unauthorized CBD products are accessible to consumers from online to retail stores. Consumers should keep in mind that more research is still needed in some of the medical claims, you should consult with your doctor for CBD’s effectiveness in treating conditions, potential side effects, right dosage amounts, and potential interaction with your other medication you are taking. Also, if you decide to get CBD products, you may minimize your risks by finding CBD products derived from organic hemp and CBD products from a reliable company that may go through an independent lab testing to verify what is contained in the products.
* I tried to research and provide accurate and current information within my ability in this blog. However, the information in this blog is not legal, medical, financial or professional advice. I am not a lawyer, doctor or a professional advisor. Please do not use this information to make any decision or take any action. Please consult with your lawyer, doctor or professional advisor regarding cannabis related matters including Cannabidiol (CBD). Laws and regulation on cannabis related matters including Cannabidiol (CBD) may vary from each state in U.S. and each province in Canada. The information, laws and regulation on cannabis related matters including Cannabidiol (CBD) may change any time.
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