Written by: Liz Carter-Health Educator, Robert Crown Center for Health Education
The cannabis plant has different strains and classifications but ones we most commonly see and hear about are hemp and marijuana. In hemp, the most prominent compound is known as CBD (cannabidiol). In marijuana, the most prominent compound is known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), but marijuana does also contain CBD. CBD is the compound associated with the medicinal qualities. THC, however, is the compound that is responsible for the mind-altering sensations that we commonly describe as “high”. Both CBD and THC can be extracted from the cannabis plant and put into different products or be left as an oil. An important thing to note is that marijuana can have varying amounts of THC while hemp contains less than 0.3% THC.
CBD is becoming increasingly popular, being sold in many places including local video stores. We see CBD portrayed as a miracle drug all over social media, with claims that it can help with Parkinson’s, inflammation, ADHD, Crohn’s and even some skin conditions. Some people are even saying that CBD is providing significant relief in a way that the medicine prescribed by their doctor did not. In other research, CBD has shown the potential ability to aid in treating anxiety and depression.
The FDA has approved one cannabis-derived and three cannabis-related drug products. These approved products are only available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. However, there are many forms of CBD that are being produced that have not had any type of testing or quality regulation. This means that there is no way for someone to know the amount of CBD or the quality of the CBD in that product. It has also been shown that in some CBD products, the THC is still present even though the label states there is “NO THC”. While CBD products may be available in stores, not knowing the quality or quantity of the THC inside can be dangerous. At this point CBD should only be used under the supervision of a medical professional.
Furthermore, the legality of products from hemp and marijuana are different. Here in Illinois, per the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp derived CBD is legal because it contains less than 0.3% THC, but the THC values in marijuana CBD are varied so marijuana CBD is illegal. There have been instances of users of both hemp and marijuana CBD products testing positive for marijuana in drug tests. Not knowing what is in a product undoubtably can cause health risks for consumers. The bottom line is that there is no regulation around CBD products so users don’t know what they are getting. Does the benefit of these products outweigh the risks?