Determining risks and benefits through proper clinical trials remains highly desired, but these will take considerable time and funds. As a result, clinical data will not appear any time soon, while patients will not simply stop using the many CBD products to which they have become accustomed. Taking back regulatory control over CBD could therefore start with a more short-term and achievable approach, i.e., demanding accurate and proper labeling, reflecting in detail what each product does and does not contain, and how it was manufactured. For a clearer judgment of the potential therapeutic effects, the risks, but also the legality of a cannabis extract, it is important to know its exact composition. After all, published data from around the world has taught us that misleading labels as well as harmful contaminants are real and actual problems for CBD products. The analytical methodology and the third-party labs needed for this approach largely already exist, and could easily be optimized to quickly get a better grip on the unrestrained cannabinoid market. This approach would hold each producer strictly accountable for the quality and safety of their own products, as long as there are real legal consequences for those businesses that break the rules. Add to this a system for regular professional audits and inspections, and a crackdown on unsubstantiated health claims, and we have a reasonable system to ensure that CBD can be used responsibly by those who need it, until much needed clinical data become available.
Flower Power, which sells CBD-infused coffee to cafes like Caffeine Underground in New York City, puts 5 mg of CBD in each serving of coffee. The company, like many involved in the sale of CBD, is extremely careful about what it says regarding CBD’s effects for fear of FDA intervention. The standard language for CBD packaging and website documentation is similar to that of many supplements (think: milk thistle, echinacea, elderberry, turmeric) and is some variation on: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment.”

CBD may help reduces REM behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease. REM behavior disorder is a condition that causes people to act out physically during dreaming and REM sleep. Typically, during REM, the body is largely paralyzed, a state known as REM atonia. This immobilization keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. In REM behavior disorder, this paralysis doesn’t occur, leaving people free to move—which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. Cannabis may also work to reduce pain and improve sleep quality in people with Parkinson’s disease.

However (and this is very important), as has typically been the case with legal marijuana, the federal government mostly looks the other way while individual states decide how to treat CBD. As such, most states allow CBD products in some form, usually for medical purposes. The 30 states that have legalized medical marijuana include CBD products in that protection, while a number of other states have specific CBD laws that allow for those products in some form, so long as they also contain no more than a miniscule amount of THC. Only four states consider all cannabis-derived products, including CBD, to be illegal: Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

Cannabidiol is currently a class B1 controlled drug in New Zealand under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It is also a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act. In 2017 the rules were changed so that anyone wanting to use it could go to the Health Ministry for approval. Prior to this, the only way to obtain a prescription was to seek the personal approval of the Minister of Health.

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