If CBD oil was used mainly by adult, well-informed, and reasonably healthy consumers, the impact of its widespread use would perhaps be quite acceptable and limited. However, this is not the case, as CBD is actively marketed for use by children (e.g., for Dravet syndrome, ADHD, autism), elderly people (Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease), patients suffering from complex diseases (cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain), and even pets (anxiety, appetite, sleep). Indiscriminate use of CBD may lead to various issues among these consumers. For example, CBD shows an exciting potential for treating epilepsy in children, but the long-term effects of high-dose CBD on these children’s brain functions remain unclear, while there are strong clues that the endocannabinoid system is central in the proper neuronal development of the adolescent brain . In order to halt the unchecked advertising of CBD products, health authorities in various countries have begun sending official warning letters to stop producers and sellers from making unfounded health claims [24, 25].
CBD oil derived from whole-plant marijuana has seen promising results for numerous medical treatments, including treating children with epilepsy. (In 2013, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduced the world to a child who after using CBD oil went from having 300 seizures a month to only two.) On April 19, the AP reported that an FDA panel is reviewing a a pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil made from whole-plant marijuana called Epidiolex, a possible treatment for rare forms of pediatric epilepsy. If approved, it would be the first marijuana-made medication sold on the U.S. market. A day later, on the marijuana community’s “high holiday,” April 20, New York Senator Chuck Schumer introduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level. Forecasters are predicting that legal cannabis in the U.S. will be outselling soda by 2030.
While there are producers who will tell you the difference between legal and illegal CBD comes down to whether your batch is derived from marijuana or hemp—both are plants in the cannabis family, but hemp contains very little THC compared to marijuana—the truth is that even hemp isn’t legal everywhere. In Massachusetts, for example, you’re allowed to grow marijuana at home, but it’s still a crime to grow hemp.
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They may be safe, but there's one massive problem: There's practically no scientific data to support the idea that a CBD-infused topical cream is any more effective than other topical pain relievers, like Tiger Balm, BenGay, or Icy Hot. Michelle Sexton, a San Diego-based naturopathic doctor and medical research director of the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy says that her patients do seem to have a great interest in CBD ointments, and roughly 40 percent of them have indeed tried one. However, these people are in her office now because the topicals didn’t work for them. "As a medical professional, my opinion is there’s little evidence to back up the claims being made—it’s all marketing for now," she says.
Though a CBD latte might not do much for you — at least not beyond what caffeine and the placebo effect combined can do, which isn’t nothing — it’s also probably harmless in most cases, says Carson, and may even have positive benefits we aren’t yet aware of. “I suspect there’s probably some antioxidant benefit to CBD like there is with coffee,” says Carson. “There’s tons of good things in coffee that we still don’t fully understand, and I think the marijuana plant is much the same way.”