Almost overnight, CBD oils have become an interesting combination of popular holistic medicine, miracle cure, and a natural answer to the synthetic drugs dominating modern medicine. With CBD, patients receive the promise of being in control of their own ailments, and no longer feeling at the mercy of their treating physicians. This has turned out to be a particularly powerful message. Many patients use CBD oils freely for ailments both confirmed and self-diagnosed, and the rapid innovations with CBD products have actually been quite impressive. But while new CBD products keep entering the market virtually unchecked, effective regulatory control of these products has stayed far behind. As a result, unknown risks about long-term effects remain unaddressed, especially in vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, and the chronically or terminally ill. It should be noted that this discussion goes well beyond CBD only, as new products containing additional cannabinoids like CBG, THCV, and acidic cannabinoids are following closely behind. We know even less about these compounds than about CBD, and very limited human safety data are 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.”
Recreational marijuana is not legal in New York state. What the coffee shop is selling is CBD-infused lattes; CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. Out of curiosity, I bought one. It cost $9 and tasted like a latte with that hint of marijuana herbiness you get from a weed cookie. Google research informed me I would not get high but would be calmer, less anxious, maybe a little sleepy. I have no idea if I felt anything at all. Mostly, I felt like I just spent $9 on coffee.
CBD, known scientifically as cannabidiol, is the second most commonly occurring cannabinoid within the marijuana plant, ranking in just below THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. What is unique and distinctive about CBD, unlike THC this component produces zero psychoactive effects, meaning that it does not create the typical high and euphoria that is linked with marijuana. Furthermore, it has proved to generate immense healing and a multitude of medically beneficial abilities. CBD helps pain on an anatomical level by directly targeting the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which naturally produces some cannabinoids on its own, known as endocannabinoids.
The Health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: the current state of evidence and recommendations for research. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An evidence review and research agenda. Washington, National Academies Press, 2017.