CBD Oil: The Therapeutic Side of Marijuana
Marijuana reform laws have swept the nation. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that allow patients to receive prescriptions for medical marijuana. Some states’ laws legalize cannabis for a broad variety of conditions, while others narrowly restrict medicinal marijuana usage. Seventeen states – typically those that are the most restrictive when it comes to medical cannabis – have enacted laws specific to the use of cannabidiol oil, otherwise known as CBD oil. For example, Alabama permits fewer than 100 epileptic patients to use CBD as part of a state-sponsored clinical trial. Other uses of CBD oil and medical cannabis are outlawed in that state. Iowa allows patients with conditions like AIDS/HIV, cancer, and multiple sclerosis to use CBD oil, but only if they obtain it from a neighboring state. Georgia law covers many more conditions – ranging from sickle cell disease to autism – and allows possession of up to 20 ounces of CBD oil. An outline of each state’s CBD law follows this article.
The Basics of CBD Oil
Each cannabis plant produces at least 113 cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the marijuana “high,” while CBD confers medicinal benefits without the psychoactive response. Each cannabis strain is cultivated for varying levels of CBD and THC. Those that are grown for medicinal use typically have prominent levels of CBD and low or negligible levels of THC. For example, Haley’s Hope and Charlotte’s Web are two strains that were developed to help those (specifically children) having seizures due to epilepsy or other neurological conditions.
Once the CBD-heavy plant is grown, harvested, and ground up, CBD is extracted either with other cannabinoids or by itself. The “whole plant” method captures multiple cannabinoids, while the “isolate” method delivers only CBD. The whole plant extraction process usually involves a solvent, such as ethanol, which is later removed through evaporation. The isolate method typically involves the controlled use of C02, temperature, and pressure to separate each cannabinoid. The resulting CBD oil may be diluted and offered as a liquid, capsule, tincture, edible, or topical lotion.
The Body’s Response
Cannabinoids such as CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays a critical role in homeostasis, a kind of cellular equilibrium that keeps the body humming along. The ECS consists of cannabinoid receptors, which wait for activation molecules called endocannabinoids, and enzymes that destroy endocannabinoids once they’re no longer needed. This system operates throughout the human body, including the nervous system and the immune system.
For example, when an infection occurs, inflammation is the body’s way of calling in helpers to fight off the bad guys. Once there are enough troops on the scene, endocannabinoids come to the rescue and tell them to stop. The result is that inflammation abates and the body gets back into equilibrium. When the body’s systems aren’t working properly and inflammation flares, CBD oil can activate cannabinoid receptors and do the job of endocannabinoids.
When CBD Oil Can Help
There has been extensive research into the positive impact CBD oil can have on a variety of conditions. These include:
Inflammation: Inflammation is the body’s way of defending itself, but the chronic inflammation associated with arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and cardiovascular disease dramatically lowers the sufferer’s quality of life. Researchers have found that CBD oil can considerably reduce inflammation.
Neuropathy: Neuropathic pain impacts people with a variety of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune disorders. Triggered by the activation of microglia, neuropathy can be devastatingly painful. Research has demonstrated that CBD oil can quiet down the microglia response and reduce pain.
Seizures: CBD oil has an established track record of reducing seizures in patients with seizure disorders, including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Scientific studies have demonstrated the efficacy of 99 percent CBD pharmaceuticals.
Anxiety: The activation of cannabinoid receptors in the brain has been shown to tamp down the fight-or-flight response associated with various anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Opioid Use: Because CBD oil effectively lessens pain, patients are less likely to turn to opioids for pain relief. Those who do use opioids are more likely to reduce their use of the drugs once they begin with CBD oil. More generally, research has demonstrated that those with access to medical marijuana are less likely to become addicted to opioids and to overdose on opioids.
Neurodegenerative Diseases: Research indicates that cannabinoids like CBD can slow the progression of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil
Circling back to cannabis legalization, it should be noted that not all CBD oil is created equal. The market is flooded with what is tagged as “legal in all 50 states” CDB oil. This product is made from industrial hemp and, while it may have some medicinal properties, the benefits do not mirror that of a cannabis strain specifically cultivated for CBD oil.
CBD oil products made from industrial hemp are derived from plants that do not contain more than 0.2 to 0.4 percent THC. These plants are often grown in Asia, where there are few quality controls in place, and are used for a variety of other purposes, such as auto parts, concrete, and soap. In contrast, legally grown U.S. CBD strains adhere to strict growing, harvesting, and production guidelines.
Because the medical cannabis landscape has changed so rapidly, product guidelines and regulations haven’t yet caught up. As a result, shopping for quality CBD oil can be confusing. The first thing to look for is the extraction method and the substances used. A product made from whole plant extraction, which produces an oil with multiple cannabinoids, should use an ethanol solvent like grain alcohol. Avoid products that use toxic cheaper solvents, such as butane and hexane. Even better is CBD oil that utilizes CO2 extraction to isolate and preserve the purity of cannabinoids, including the cannabidiol that is at the heart of CBD oil.
The next element to consider is where the cannabis plants were grown. The plant absorbs soil toxins and sprayed pesticides, none of which are meant to be ingested. Nevertheless, industrial hemp is often grown in non-food grade conditions and the resulting CBD oil may contain toxins like lead or mercury. Plants grown on certified organic farms – particularly those in the E.U. that have long been regulated – are a safer bet. In addition, reputable companies are transparent in publishing independent laboratory test results about the purity of their products.
Reading the label is also critical. Some manufacturers will mislead patients by listing the recommended product dosage instead of the amount of active cannabidiol in the product. For example, 100 mg capsules may contain 50 mg of CBD and 50 mg of inactive substances, even though at first glance the capsule appears to contain 100 mg. of CBD.
Finally, it’s important to note that the way CBD oil is ingested can affect its impact. The body metabolizes CBD differently if taken orally than if taken rectally. That’s because the digestive system and liver can filter out cannabidiol, lessening its bioavailability. While absorbing CBD under the tongue or rectally is optimal, oral CBD bioavailability can be increased when CBD is ingested with fat or oil.
When it comes to choosing a product to use, it is helpful to consult a medical professional and a staff member at a licensed dispensary. They can guide patients toward the proper dosage and the CBD oil delivery mechanism – topical, oral, edible, or suppository – that aligns with the patient’s medical condition and needs.
CBD Medical Marijuana Laws
While marijuana and CBD oil laws continue to evolve, here is a snapshot of state law as of April 2018.
States that allow full medicinal use of CBD oil are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
States that have CBD-specific medical marijuana laws are:
Alabama: CBD oil is legal only for patients that are part of a state-sponsored clinical trial.
Florida: Patients with cancer, muscle spams, seizures, and terminal illnesses are eligible to use CBD oil.
Georgia: Patients with a wide variety of conditions, ranging from AIDS to Crohn’s disease to neuropathy, can have access to CBD oil.
Indiana: The state restricts the use of CBD oil to certain epileptic conditions, though as of March 21, 2018, industrial hemp CBD oil can be sold to any adult.
Iowa: Patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other specified conditions can possess limited amounts of CBD oil.
Kentucky: CBD oil is accessible only to patients that are part of a state-sponsored clinical epilepsy trial.
Mississippi: Only those with intractable epilepsy are eligible to use CBD oil.
Missouri: Only those with intractable epilepsy are eligible to use CBD oil.
North Carolina: Only those with intractable epilepsy are eligible to use CBD oil.
Oklahoma: Only those with pediatric epilepsy are eligible to use CBD oil.
South Carolina: Only those with certain types of epilepsy are eligible to use CBD oil.
Tennessee: Only those with intractable seizures are eligible to use CBD oil.
Texas: Only those with intractable epilepsy are eligible to use CBD oil.
Utah: Only those with intractable epilepsy or a terminal illness are eligible to use CBD oil.
Virginia: On March 9, 2018, Virginia enacted a law expanding CBD oil eligibility from only intractable epilepsy to any condition diagnosed by a doctor.
Wisconsin: Any patient whose doctor has recommended CBD oil for a medical condition is allowed to use it.
Wyoming: Only those with intractable epilepsy are eligible to use CBD oil.