03 April 2020

Hemp and CBD Revisited

Welcome back. Two years ago, I blogged about hemp on another website (reposted here as Industrial Hemp). Though I commented on the extraordinary number of applications of hemp’s fiber, seed and oil, I didn’t dwell on the potential therapeutic benefits of one component, cannabidiol (CBD).

Neon sign advertising CBD (from
Well, times have changed. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill) legalized CBD from hemp with certain restrictions, and CBD now seems to be available everywhere as drugs, food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, animal health products and probably more. 
CBD on sale at video store in Illinois (photo by Byron Hetzler, thesouthern.com/news/local/pain-buster-or-placebo-cbd-oil-craze-hits-southern-illinois/article_7b4fa98c-0e7b-537a-8061-9492526dc986.htm).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expressed concern that people may mistakenly believe CBD “can’t hurt.” It all suggests that I should dwell longer on CBD.

What Is CBD?
CBD is one of many cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa L., a plant better known as marijuana or hemp. The other cannabinoid of interest here is the psychoactive compound associated with marijuana highs, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Although marijuana and hemp are both cannabis plants, they differ in the concentration of THC, legal hemp having THC less than 0.3% and marijuana having much higher levels.

The arbitrary 0.3% THC limit that keeps hemp legal can be a problem, as farmers and states learned. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s interim regulations, released October 2019, required testing a sample “from the flowering material” of hemp (the part of the plant with the most cannabinoids) at a DEA-approved lab within 15 days of anticipated harvest. Delays in state sampling and testing and other triggers--especially genetics, as a Cornell University study found--caused too many farmers’ crops to exhibit higher THC and be destroyed. Adjustments are in progress.

Potential Therapeutic Uses
Notwithstanding CBD’s wide availability, research on the cannabinoid is just warming up. Studies have considered a variety of conditions--anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and many more.

2017 overview of conditions CBD might benefit
(from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0163725817300657).
To date, however, the FDA has approved only one CBD product--a prescription drug for treatment of two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. The agency relies on others to conduct the research and submit data in an application for approval.

Risks and Side Effects
The FDA reports that the limited data it has seen on CBD safety point to risks. CBD can cause liver injury. It can interact with other drugs you may be taking, with potentially serious side effects. Use of CBD with alcohol or drugs that slow brain activity (e.g., those used for anxiety, panic, stress or sleep disorders) increases the risk of sedation and drowsiness and possible injury. Studies of animals exposed to CBD have reported male reproductive toxicity. Observed side effects include changes in alertness, gastrointestinal distress and mood changes, most commonly irritability and agitation.

Legal Status
Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal at the federal level, yet states have different restrictions (e.g., CBD is illegal in South Dakota).

Although you may find different CBD products, the FDA maintains that CBD is an approved drug and is thus precluded from being added to food and beverages or included in dietary supplements. FDA enforcement has been limited to sending warning letters to manufacturers.

Wrap Up
CBD’s potential therapeutic uses are extremely promising. Still, it has to be emphasized that the FDA has not evaluated unapproved CBD products.

CBD on sale in Massachusetts
(from www.buzzardsbaybotanicals.com/).
Are they effective for the claimed effect? What is the proper dosage? What happens if you take CBD daily for long periods of time? And again, the limited data on CBD safety point to risks.

The FDA is working to answer the many unanswered questions about the science, safety and quality of products containing CBD. (My comment: Like other government agencies, the FDA is short on staff and budget, even with the reduction in compliance and enforcement actions since President Trump took office.)

Thanks for stopping by.

FDA and CBD: www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
Hemp farming regulations and problems:

No comments:

Post a Comment