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Seeking the truth about CBD

Local retailers may be all in, but there are still many questions about the safety and effectiveness of CBD.

According to the Brightfield Group, a national cannabis market research firm, the hemp-derived CBD market, which stood at nearly $600 million in 2018, could reach an astounding $22 billion by 2022.

According to the Brightfield Group, a national cannabis market research firm, the hemp-derived CBD market, which stood at nearly $600 million in 2018, could reach an astounding $22 billion by 2022.

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From the pages of In Business magazine.

A testimony to the power of CBD is that even without rigorous clinical testing or government regulations and oversight on the burgeoning industry, consumers are still flocking to the compound derived from the cannabis plant to treat any number of ailments. If it’s a fad, it’s not going to be a fast-passing one. However, it’s clear that a lot of confusion still surrounds CBD — what is it, whether it’s legal to sell and buy it, what it can treat, and perhaps most importantly, is it safe and effective?

For Greater Madison-area businesses selling CBD, separating the myths and facts for curious consumers is a daily task. Guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be appreciated but could still be years away. In March 2019, outgoing FDA director Scott Gottlieb testified to Congress that it could take up to four years for the FDA to create a regulatory pathway for the retail sale of CBD-infused food products or health-food supplements. Meanwhile, CBD sales are booming.

An estimated one in seven U.S. adults, or 14 percent, acknowledges using CBD-infused products, according to national polling data compiled by Gallup. Use is most prevalent among those between the ages of 18 to 29. Those consuming CBD products were most likely to report using them for pain (40 percent), anxiety (20 percent), or insomnia (11 percent).

And according to the Brightfield Group, a national cannabis market research firm, the hemp-derived CBD market, which stood at nearly $600 million in 2018, could reach an astounding $22 billion by 2022.

What is CBD?

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is one of over 100 distinct cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, of which the federal government recognizes two varieties: hemp and marijuana. Like other cannabinoids, CBD is most prominently found in the resinous portions of the cannabis flower rather than in other parts of the plant, such as the stalk, seeds, or leaves.

CBD should not be confused with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the compound in the cannabis plant that has psychoactive properties, or what gets a user “high.” CBD does not have any mood-altering properties of its own. Hemp contains high concentrations of CBD and low levels of THC, whereas marijuana plants are increasingly bred to contain high levels of THC and lower levels of CBD.

Did the 2018 Farm Bill change the legal status of CBD under federal law?

Provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill amended the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. The Act also broadens the definition of “hemp” (Section 297A) to include “any part of the plant, including … extracts [or] cannabinoids that do not possess greater than 0.3 percent THC on a dry-weight basis.” This language allows for the legalization under federal law of some CBD-specific products, presuming they are derived from dually state/federally licensed hemp producers who are in compliance with both state and federal regulations, and are marketed in such a way that does not violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has pledged to release guidelines and regulations for overseeing commercial hemp production prior to the 2020 planting season.

What about CBD in various products, like beverages and lotions?

For now, the FDA has said CBD is not allowed as an ingredient in food, drinks, or dietary supplements, according to an Associated Press report from earlier this year.

“In stating its position, the FDA cited a provision of the law prohibiting food makers from using active drug ingredients or those still undergoing substantial research. But the agency doesn’t have the resources to police all the CBD products that are already available, said Marc Scheineson, a former FDA official. ‘They’re not going to pull a thousand products from the market,’ he said.”

Who can sell CBD oil in Wisconsin?

According to the state Department of Justice, any retailer with a seller’s permit through the state Department of Revenue can sell CBD oil as long as it’s derived from a state-licensed hemp program and contains less than 0.3 percent THC.

Is traditional hemp a viable source for CBD?

Industrial hemp is traditionally grown for its fiber content. By contrast, cannabinoids are most prominently expressed in flowers, and to a lesser extent, in leaves. While the presence of CBD has been documented in some specific hemp strains, analytical data assessing cannabinoid content in hemp plants remains limited. This absence of data has led some experts to question the viability of traditional hemp plants as efficient sources of CBD extraction as compared to traditional cannabis plants.

Will taking CBD cause you to fail a drug test?

In clinical trials, the oral administration of CBD does not result in detectable THC blood concentrations, and most experts in the field do not believe that it shares any similarities to THC or the THC metabolite following absorption. Therefore, the administration of CBD alone should not trigger a positive drug test for the carboxy-THC metabolite.

In instances where the administration of CBD products has resulted in a positive drug test result for carboxy-THC, this result is likely because the product itself possessed trace quantities of THC.

Are there any known side effects from taking CBD?

Side effects of CBD can include nausea, fatigue, and irritability, notes Peter Grinspoon, MD, a physician and contributing editor for Harvard Health Publishing. “CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.”

Are commercially available CBD products safe and effective?

In recent years, marketers have advertised a variety of CBD-related products online and in other venues. However, third-party analytical testing of some of these products has consistently found them to be of varying quality and safety. In some instances, products have been found to contain far lower percentages of CBD than advertised. In other instances, products alleging to be THC-free have been found to possess THC as well as other psychotropic adulterants. Further, in almost all instances, commercially available CBD products contain far lower quantities of CBD than are necessary to yield therapeutic effects in clinical trials.

Safety guaranteed?

This last point was largely the basis for the FDA holding a public hearing on CBD products in May of this year.

According to the Washington Post, “During the 10 hours of testimony that followed, hemp growers, startup businesses, academic researchers, and consumer advocates argued about how FDA should regulate the already booming CBD industry. Some demanded strict oversight. Others — especially companies with millions at stake — lobbied for looser regulation.

“But the common theme among them all: FDA needs to figure out its rules sooner, rather than later.”


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