Does it seem to you as if cannabidiol products, better known as CBD, are suddenly everywhere?
You might be right: the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp, which is any species of cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC, the compound that causes the mental and physical ‘highs’ associated with cannabis.
So hemp lacks significant psychoactive qualities but has high amounts of CBD, which is known for its potential healing properties. With its newly legal status, hemp-derived products are now available to consumers outside of the legal cannabis shops.
One note about CBD, though: the FDA does not permit CBD to be sold as a dietary supplement, and it is not allowed in food that crosses state lines. But this hasn’t prevented some CBD products from advertising healthy supplement claims, and there are certainly foods and other products being transported to retailers around the country.
If market forces hold sway, expect some changes to these rules, or else the FDA is going to have some enforcement issues. Research firm Brightfield Group says the market for hemp-derived CBD products was approximately $591 million in 2018, and may swell to a whopping $22 billion by 2022.
That’s a heck of a lot of chill.
The market has become so normalized that even Walgreens and CVS stores have recently announced they’re selling CBD sprays, creams, and patches at hundreds of their stores around the country.
Though there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that CBD could provide relief for a huge range of conditions, such as anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, chronic pain, and arthritis, there’s not a lot of actual research or randomized clinical trials to show if CBD actually does what the products claim.
If you see a product saying that it cures cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune diseases, or opioid-use disorder, you might consider those red flags regarding whether the product can be trusted – and know that the FDA may be sending the producers a warning letter as soon as they catch wind).
But since CBD is considered relatively safe, people with conditions for which CBD may provide some relief may not think there’s much to risk. The World Health Organization has said that CBD doesn’t “appear to have abuse potential or cause harm,” which is one reason the recent legalization of hemp is long overdue, according to some.
However, since hemp-derived CBD has very little oversight, proceed with caution: hucksters and grafters may try to jump in on the market, and who knows what they’re selling you.
If you are in the market for CBD products, consider following a few guidelines to prevent purchases that are erroneously labeled or simply snake-oil in a new bottle:
- If you visit a licensed cannabis retailer, talk to a budtender. Washington shops remain a highly-regulated outlet for both CBD and THC purchases, so their products tend to be under more scrutiny. Budtenders are trained in what the “good stuff” is based on their experiences and customer comments. If you’re buying CBD products from a coffee shop, antique store, mini-market or other outlet, ask questions of the people who work there. If they don’t know the answers to your questions, consider making your purchase elsewhere.
- Read up on the company that makes the product you might purchase. Check out their website, if they have one, and look for “About” pages that give information about farms and where the plant itself is grown.
- Products containing CBD should list the exact amount of CBD contained, as well as a complete breakdown of any other ingredients. Look for companies that verify the purity of their products through an independent lab. If they also provide a certificate of analysis breaking down the results, that’s a good sign.
There are a ton of CBD products out there right now – vapes, joints, chewables, chocolate, tinctures, mints, face masks, bath bombs, popcorn, coffee … and this, honestly, is just scratching the surface of what could be coming.
If you’re interested in the benefits of CBD, you’re probably best-served with some mindful experimentation with an eye toward what works for you rather than what seems en vogue.