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5 Things You Should Know About CBD Oil

Is all the hype real?

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Jar with CBD oil being taken out by a dropper.
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Recently, I had brunch at a popular eatery in one of my favorite sections of town. As I waited for my breakfast to arrive, I noticed a sign on the table. “Put CBD in your coffee!” was in bold red letters, right next to the sugar packets and extra napkins. Though I already had ordered a Bloody Mary (hey, it was Sunday and that’s what you do at brunch, right?), I was curious.

Before that morning at brunch, I knew very little about cannabidiol (CBD), which is one of the 100 chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant, other than it seems CBD is everywhere these days. You can find CBD in everything from ice cream to vaping oils to skin cream. CBD products are even made for pets.

So, what’s all the hype about?

Here’s what you need to know:

You will not get “the munchies” from CBD oil.

Marijuana, which is also called weed, pot, dope or cannabis, is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains mind-altering compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as well as other active compounds like cannabidiol that are not mind-altering.

Most people are familiar with the compound THC with regard to marijuana. Basically, THC is the compound that causes a mind-altering marijuana high and “the munchies,” whereas CBD does not.

CBD is marketed as a product that will ostensibly help you relax without the psychotropic effects of toking a joint laced with THC. CBD products have less than 0.3 percent of THC, a barely detectible level, if at all.

You can use CBD oil for just about anything, according to the internet.

If you do a Google search for CBD oil, you will be overwhelmed with options and opinions about how CBD works on various ailments. CBD can be used for everything from natural pain relief to treating seizures in a variety of forms and products.

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a version of CBD called Epidiolex for two rare seizure disorders. However, according to the FDA website, to date, the FDA has not approved a marketing application for marijuana for any indication, including cannabidiol.

If you are thinking of adding CBD to a medication regimen or to treat a chronic illness, it’s best to discuss CBD application with your doctor.

CBD is largely unregulated at this time.

Because the FDA has not approved a marketing application for CBD in any form, it’s a safe assumption that there is no government body overseeing the production and concentration levels of CBD from vendors. Now is also a good time to discuss the fact that, since production of CBD products is largely unregulated, if you are in the market to purchase CBD, it can be difficult to know how much CBD is actually in the product you buy.

And, beware: CBD products should not contain more than 0.3 percent of THC, so screen the website or store carefully before buying. Be prepared to pay a steep price, too: CBD can run upward of $500 a month for some applications.

CBD is legal — sort of.

This is where CBD gets tricky — and try to stay with me as I explain. Most CBD oils are hemp-derived, which, by definition, means they contain less than 0.3 percent THC. (Hemp is cannabis that can’t get anyone stoned.) But the Drug Enforcement Administration still considers “marijuana (cannabis)” a Schedule I controlled substance, in the same category as heroin and meth.

According to Vox, “the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies CBD as illegal, although it doesn’t go after anyone using or possessing it, and it hasn’t said if it will reclassify CBD now that hemp is legal. The Food and Drug Administration still considers it a drug, and therefore categorizes it as illegal to be put in foods and or health products without its approval.”

Loosely translated, if cannabidiol is illegal where you live, you may not get in trouble for using it or buying a CBD product. But it is important to make sure you are up to date with regard to the laws in your area.

No one knows the long-term effects of CBD, so proceed with caution.

Marijuana and CBD laws are changing almost daily, and that’s good news for scientists who want to study CBD effects over the long term with research and clinical trials. Because laws vary from state to state, it can be difficult for researchers to legally obtain marijuana and CBD samples to study in depth.

And because CBD is such a new product, studying its effects on diseases like Alzheimer’s and anxiety will take time before any data can emerge.

Bottom line: No one really knows how safe or effective CBD products are, so make sure to do extensive research and speak with your doctor before you use CBD.