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  • D.H Reily

Questions Remain About Unregulated CBD

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Yet another reminder of the value of using safe, regulated medical marijuana hit the news this week, underscoring just how risky it can be to treat qualifying conditions with untested, knock-off cannabis products.

WDTV, north-central West Virginia’s CBS affiliate, ran a story recently on the proliferation of CBD products and the wild, unsubstantiated claims they make. They also talked about the danger these products could pose to uninformed consumers because of how unregulated and unmonitored the CBD industry is.

All told, it’s yet another reminder that when you want to harness the healing potential of cannabis, medical marijuana is the only truly proven, truly safe way to do so.

What Is CBD, and How Is It Different From Medical Marijuana?

Before going any further, we should probably define CBD, as many consumers don’t really understand what it is or how it’s related to medical marijuana.

CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, a chemical that occurs naturally in marijuana and in hemp, marijuana’s low-THC cousin.

In 2018, Congress reclassified hemp so that it was no longer a controlled substance and tasked the Food and Drug Administration with the responsibility to regulate it. This action more or less legalized all hemp products with less than .3% THC content, which meant CBD derived from hemp was largely legalized as well.

Legalization of hemp meant a product derived from it, CBD, was legal, and therefore ripe for commercial sales. Thus the deluge of CBD products that arrived in stores since 2018.

“CBD doesn’t contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes you feel high,” Dr. Ebonie M. Vázquez told Kaiser Permanente. CBD manufacturers market their products as having the medical properties of marijuana without the high, which makes those products seem safer to people who still buy into the harmful stereotypes about cannabis.

CBD Manufacturers Make Bold Claims, But Offer No Proof

WDTV noted that because CBD is unregulated, manufacturers can and do make all kinds of seemingly outrageous complaints about its medicinal value. In reality, however, there is little to no research to back up these claims.

Public health researcher Theodore Caputi told Kaiser Permanente that CBD manufacturers often focus on users’ reviews in their marketing and advertising. That’s hardly a scientific method for establishing the medical value of CBD, given the possibility of a placebo effect.

“People have been led to believe all sorts of [health effects] that CBD might have but that aren’t founded in scientific evidence,” Caputi said.

But perhaps even more alarming than unfounded claims is that the unregulated nature of the CBD market means that consumers can’t even be entirely sure what’s in the CBD products they are putting in their bodies.

CBD Products Often Mislabeled Due to Lack of Oversight

Health news site HealthDay recently reported on another aspect of the CBD industry that may be more disturbing than manufacturers’ tendency to make unfounded claims: their habit of misinforming consumers about the content of their products.

According to HealthDay, the scholarly journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence recently published a study that found that about 60% of CBD products also contain THC.

Getting a surprise dose of THC with your CBD purchase may seem like a plus to many patients, but when you purchase a supplement or medicine, you should be getting that supplement or medicine. What you should not be getting is an unwanted or unexpected high, or a surprise ingredient that might not mix well with your other medications.

In fact, unexpected THC in your CDB products could land you in hot water at work. According to HealthDay, most of the offending products that tested positive for THC had only trace amounts of the substance. However, as lead researcher Shanna Babalonis explained to the site, these trace amounts could be enough to accumulate in patients’ systems and cause them to fail a drug test.

She explained that “Military personnel, professional and amateur athletes, and people in legal disputes like child custody cases could wind up in trouble through no fault of their own, just by using an over-the-counter CBD product.”

Pat Aussem, of the Partnership to End Addiction in New York City, told the HealthDay that “If a person does not have a tolerance for THC, these trace amounts -- which can accumulate in one's fat cells as the product is used over time -- can have an effect on a person.”

Babalonis agreed with Aussem that mislabeled CBD products that contain THC can be dangerous for patients who are unaware of what’s in their supplements. “If you're buying a drink at the grocery store, you would expect when it says there's no alcohol in it, that there's no alcohol in it,” Babalonis said. “You wouldn't drink it expecting to feel some alcohol effects or maybe blow positive on a Breathalyzer. This is the same thing.”

“If we're being a little bit cynical, we could think that if people feel an effect from something -- if they feel a subjective effect -- they might think that the product is working,” Babalonis said. “Whereas if you don't necessarily feel any effects from something, you may tend to think it doesn't work.”

So Babalonis said it was possible some unscrupulous, unregulated manufacturers are deliberately mislabeling their CBD products, knowing consumers will feel more relief from their symptoms if they use THC, and thus will be more likely to become repeat customers.

Medical Marijuana Contains CBD, and It’s More Effective

CBD companies lack scientific evidence to back their claims, and their products are often dangerously mislabeled. Need one more reason to favor medical marijuana over CBD products? No problem, we’ve got you covered, because medical marijuana is also much more effective than CBD.

CBD is an ingredient in medical marijuana, just one of many chemicals called cannabinoids that allow cannabis to bind with receptors in your body and deliver its healing effects.

But research indicates that the various cannabinoids, like CBD, are most effective when a patient takes them all together, like when someone uses medical marijuana. Instead of getting the limited, untested healing power of just one of medical marijuana’s ingredients like CBD users do, people who get a West Virginia Marijuana Card are getting the full healing power of the entire range of cannabinoids.

It’s a phenomenon known as the entourage effect, and it seems to be what makes medical marijuana so effective at treating so many qualifying conditions.

Why Bother With CBD When You Can Have Medical Marijuana?

To summarize, CBD lacks the scientific evidence of its efficacy that medical marijuana can offer, it’s often mislabeled (perhaps deliberately), and it isn’t as medically potent as medical marijuana.

So why even bother with it? Why not just get your West Virginia Marijuana Card and enjoy the safe, natural, tested, and safely regulated healing power of medical marijuana?

Book an evaluation online today, and we’ll make an appointment for you with one of our knowledgeable, experienced marijuana doctors. You’ll use your computer or smartphone to discuss your condition and learn if you qualify for a West Virginia Marijuana Card, all without leaving the comfort and safety of your own home. And if your doctor finds that you don’t qualify for a card, you’ll pay only a low, nominal fee for your evaluation!


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

West Virginia Marijuana Card’s mission is to help everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana.

Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

If you have any questions, call us at 877-303-8424, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out West Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in West Virginia.


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